Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reading and Writing, Writing and Reading

Still showing up daily to my story. Some days it is a sentence or two but still, it is me showing up and that's something in this crazy busy summer. A big something actually.

"Beach Music" by Pat Conroy.
It came highly recommended by a member of my writing group which can always be awkward. What if I hate it? I once recommended one of my fave books at the time to a friend ("Anywhere But Here" by Mona Simpson- it still is one of my favorites of all time and shouldn't she have a new book coming out soon?) and she hated it. Anyway, not the case with "Beach Music". I can't imagine rereading it but it was an amazing story. A sweeping saga of a book which is perfect for summer. The dialogue is just perfect. And I must say that I fell in love with a paranoid schizophrenic- John Hardin. One thing I really admire is the way Conroy eventually has you feeling empathy for every single character even General Elliot, even Jack's father. The one thing that seemed a little forced was the first person POV when he had to relay all the characters' histories. It didn't feel natural the way it had to come through Jack. And the content of those stories involving wife and child abuse, poverty, the Holocaust- well... it just all became a little too much to bear at times. I found myself skimming certain sections trying to bypass the true horrors. But still, such a great summer book to sink into and lose yourself.

"Practically Perfect in Every Way- My Misadventures Through the World of Self-Help and Back" by Jennifer Niesslein
I so enjoyed this book and not just because she once wrote me a very encouraging rejection for her magazine "Brain, Child". Once I got past the fact that once again someone came up with yet another great format for a memoir (see list below for others) I flew through the book. The gist of it is that she embarks on a two year selp-help escapade in order to become a better, happier, thinner, richer, organized version of herself. She's funny, honest, vulnerable. I laughed out loud in spots and groaned with recognition in others since I was familiar with just about every self-help tome/guru she experimented with. My latest addition is an audio program that promises unconditional acceptance with the premise that if selp-improvement programs really worked there wouldn't be this proliferation of them clogging shelves in bookstores. I'll keep you posted.

More memoirs with unique structures that I love and wish I had thought of first:
"Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Laugh out loud funny.)

"Things to Bring, S#!T to Do- My Life in Lists" by Karen Rizzo (Who knew lists could be so revealing?)

"Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less" by Mary Carlomagno (Each month for a year she gives up something from chocolate and alcohol to televison, taxis, and dining out. Such an interesting premise and I wish I had the willpower to attempt it myself without the carrot of a book contract dangling in front of me.)

"So Many books, So Little Time- A Year of Passionate Reading" by Sara Neslon (Need I say more- the title alone is the bumper sticker of my life.)


Anonymous said...

If you hated beach music we would have a vigorous discussion as to why, and debate! My feelings would never be hurt. I have to say when I reread it I still loved it but I definitely found parts of it overwritten and waxing nostalgic. For me it was the book that made me want to be a writer, which is, i think, why it sticks out so much in my mind.

Kim Haas said...

Courtney- The book that made you want to be a writer is a huge thing. Now you have me wondering if I have one. Hmmm... I'll need to think about that.