More Snow and Some Good Books

Dashed hopes of an early spring as we get walloped by another snow storm. Good thing I have my wall of ‘books-to-be read’ in place – a dam against the winter doldrums. Thanks to my sister for alerting me to Claire Keegan’s short story in last week’s New Yorker. She warned me that I would not be able to read it with dry eyes and of course, she was right. I’m talking sobs.  The next day I searched for more Keegan at the bookstore (yes, it’s nice to work in the proverbial candyshop!) and scooped up a collection of short stories, Walk the Blue Fields.  Not a sentence that doesn’t sing. Her writing is powerfully poignant without being manipulative. Familiar characters for anyone who grew up with an emotionally unavailable father. Publishers will have to go back and print more of her books because there were none available to order when I checked – lucky I found one on the shelf. If you’d like to read the story:…/100215fi_fiction_keegan

Shadow Tag, Louise Erdrich’s newest book also held me in an emotional headlock for the two days. I have so far to go as a writer – whew – each of Erdrich’s sentences are perfect and not one to spare.  An almost frightening thread of passions (love and hate) runs through the book, woven through gorgeous images of a frigid, winter.  But there is no reprieve when the thaw comes. Such smart and poetic writing and a compelling, painful story – very close to the bone.  Although I felt an all-too-familiar sense of dread throughout the telling of this doomed marriage, I could not tear myself away.

I am also reading an Advance Reader Copy of a book due out in March: If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous.  A young American woman goes to Japan to teach English not long after her father commits suicide. It reads a bit like a memoir – or maybe I think that just because I read everything with a comparative eye to my own book and wondering how to tell the story, weighing the pros and cons of telling a tale in fiction vs. non-fiction.  Watrous tells a good story.  She brilliantly captures the life of an expatriate in Japan and what a perfect setting for the shocking and strange, sad limbo land of being a survivor of a loved one’s suicide. Read this and you’ll fall in love with each of the strange and wonderful characters in this tiny Japanese village where the main character – Marina – finds for herself and brings to others, healing and hope.  A good read that I’ll look forward to hand-selling in the store.

What next?  I guess I could get back to the WordPress for Dummies book to try and figure out how to make this site a little more interesting…zzzzzzzzz.

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