Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wintery Reads

Writers read a lot. A LOT. For me, reading an hour each day before I start my own work fires up the brain cells. The story has to grab me, of course, but I also read for craft: to see how other authors put their stories together; how they use dialogue, voice, tense, etc. And winter's the perfect time: no grass to mow, the boat's wrapped up tight in the back yard, and the icicles are getting longer by the day above the back bedroom window.

Gotta tell you, I've been reading some pretty cool stuff lately. By far the most unusual novel I've read in years is Don Winslow's The Savages, which follows three twenty-somethings as they get drawn into the world of crime--a spoiled, lost young woman and the two men in love with her (and yeah, this gets a bit kinky). Everything about this book is different: the structure, the syntax, the dialogue, even the way Winslow uses punctuation. Case in point: the first chapter is just two words. "F--- you." Succinct, no?

Just this week I finished Tana French's excellent Faithful Place (one of Time magazine's Ten Best Books of 2010). A mystery-love story set in Ireland, it follows a cop whose seminal life moment was the night the woman he was planning to elope with left him--or so he thought. Gritty storyline, excellent pacing and use of dialogue. No pat ending, either, which is very important to me.

Dennis Lehane's Midnight Mile, the sequel to his excellent Gone Baby Gone was another good one, and I'm about to start the much lauded Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

So send me your suggestions! I'd love to add them to my list...

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