When I finish a long stint of university courses, I run to the library and check out a stack of novels the first chance I get. Much to my disappointment, I can’t enjoy novels while tooling through textbooks and required writing. So, I binge on classes, then I binge on reading for fun. In December I completed my history minor, and thoroughly depleted what remained of my school funding, so now, I have a stack of reading on every side table in the house.
My first stop was The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Two years ago I read Eat, Pray, Love and was transfixed by the intimacy of Gilbert’s voice in that story. A dear friend of mine sent the book on CD as a gift, and oh my gosh, the book is read by none other than Gilbert herself! That intimacy is unflinching. She does not back off! I could visualize her looking me right in the eye and speaking with that amazing, warm, silky, and utterly steady timbre as she gutted herself.
Eat, Pray, Love is full of guts, full of the ugliest personal details—I have lifelong friends that wouldn’t admit stuff like this to me. Outloud! I have since hesitated to read anything else she’s written, because let’s face it, that’s a once in a lifetime achievement. Anything else would be disappointing, I was sure.
The Signature of All Things is the oddest book I’ve ever read. Odd in the sense that it covers a broad span of subject matter (of which I didn’t think I would be entirely interested), as well as some fairly strange relationships. The POV is also strange. Of course, an omniscient narrator isn’t all that strange… we’ve read a million books like that, haven’t we? Never anything like this. The miracle of Gilbert’s intimate voice shines through the usual standoffish, yet all-knowing third person. I was transfixed. Even when I didn’t want to be. Even when I was thoroughly annoyed with the protagonist and her parents and her strange little life.
The author made me read it.
I challenged myself with the next book, refusing to cower away from something that didn’t look 100% appealing because it offered a particularly interesting challenge. A YA novel Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld, starring dual, young, female protagonists… written by a guy. The plan was to read knowing I would probably hate it, then I would comment on the gall of some writers and probably research other such literary atrocities and write about those.
Here’s my newest dilemma: Westerfeld just might be the genius missing link between gender, culture, and genre that we all never realized we should be searching for. I am a little more than half-way through the book, so I can’t yet comment on its total success. Nonetheless, I am delightfully surprised! Westerfeld is the author of many other books, as I’ve since learned, and from what I have seen thus far, it’s very likely I’ll be checking out more of his titles soon.
(P.S. Afterworlds will be particularly interesting to writers! Have a look when you get the chance.)
Next on the list? Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman.
What are you reading? Tell me the pretties and uglies, dear Flames. I want to know!
Show your fellow Flamers some reading and voting love before The Curiouser & Curiouser Poll closes!
Jlly continues with the Drabble Love in Week Two. Entries for PBJ are due Sunday!
And, by the way, the newest installment of the The Dialogue Workshop is up.