Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book of the Week: "A Land More Kind Than Home"

A Land More Kind Than Home, the debut novel from Wiley Cash, fills me with hope for the future of the Southern gothic genre. Cash's story of a boy navigating a series of terrible events is rich in Southern themes- religion and family drama in particular- but it also stays true to the gothic style and deftly blends in the more modern genre of literary thriller. A Land More Kind Than Home is subtly terrifying and heartbreakingly stark. It was another book that I didn't want to end and when it did, every other book I picked up afterwards seemed dull in comparison. There is a spark burning throughout this novel; it starts out as an ember, igniting the story from the very first words and blazes into a wildfire by the final pages. For fans of Southern fiction, or well-written fiction, or absorbing, stay-up-late-until-early-in-the-morning-to-read-one-more-chapter fiction- A Land More Kind Than Home was written for you.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Best News Ever... and Writing

I am thrilled, stoked, ecstatic, pee-my-pants, over-the-moon, beyond belief excited to announce:

I have just been signed by Pandamoon Publshing for my latest novel A Tree Born Crooked! Please check out my author announcement at https://www.facebook.com/PandamoonPublishing to read more about the story, the characters and the Southern, literary thriller style I'm bringing to light in this work. Working with Pandamoon Publishing has already been a fantastic experience and I feel so blessed to be a part of this new family. Please support them and the other Pandamoon authors as well.

Thanks so much to Ryan Holt, Janet Sokolay, Phillip Sokolay, and everyone else who have supported me, encouraged me, pushed me, put up with me and always, always believed in me. Thank you.

 
Yeah, I'm pretty happy right about now...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Recommendation: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

First of all, I'd like to apologize- it's been a while since I've reviewed a book here. Part of the reason for this is that I've been incredibly busy and distracted, but another reason is that I've gone through a string of disappointing books (I plan to write about this later). Fortunately, Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks broke the "bad book cycle" and reassured me that yes, there are still mind-blowing books to be read.

Skloot's book is a carefully researched work of non-fiction that reads like a page-turning novel. It is the story of the infamous HeLa cells and their contribution to modern science, but it is also a family drama, an ethics debate and an enthralling biography of one of the most interesting and important personas in science. Skloot is dogged in her search for the truth behind Henrietta Lacks and open and honest about the trials and conflicts she dealt with during the many years she perused this story. From the first page, I was engaged in Skloot's search for Henrietta and, although I couldn't put the book down, I desperately wanted to slow down in my reading so that I could stretch out the experience longer. This was a story I didn't want to end, and if that isn't a hallmark of riveting writing then I don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vacations and Writing (or not...)

I just got back from a few days vacation in Key West. It was wonderful: I went to the Hemingway house (and his favorite bar), sat out on the second story porch of the old guesthouse we stayed at and read Faulkner while the breeze rustled through the overhanging palm and mango trees, and walked up and down Duval St. in the evenings, weaving through packs of drag queens, small children hyped up on key lime flavored ice cream and tourists from the Midwest who clearly had never experienced giant fruity margaritas in blinking, neon fishbowl-sized glasses. I ignored my Twitter account, abstained from Facebook and did not respond to emails. And...

I did not write.

And yes, there were times when I felt guilty, even anxious, about this. When I gazed in wonder and awe (and not a little jealously) at Hemingway's writing cottage, I thought about the essence of writing. When I saw parents desperately trying to compromise with their sweaty, sticky-fingered kids, I thought about an interesting scene. When I observed very drunk, middle-aged and overly tanned women who had stuffed themselves into cut-off denim shorts and neon tube tops, but were still walking, though sometimes stumbling, in their strappy high heels, I thought about character sketches. And when I watched the sun dip ever lower toward the horizon, painting stretched shadows across the brilliant white buildings, I dreamed of settings. But I did not write a word.

Sometimes writers need to write. And sometimes they need to put the pen down and push the keyboard away. Sometimes writers need to be still, and absorb the world unfolding around them and know that the words will be there another day, but the actuality of what they are trying so hard to capture is, indeed, right there before them.