BOOK & BLOG
November 7, 2012
Books of the Week:
A very mixed bag this week. I thought Stephen M. Irwin’s The Dead Path was super-creepy and also very good, so you can imagine how pleased I was when he was nice enough to send me a copy of The Broken Ones. When I am sent books, I have a mixed reaction as a rule. My first is delight: I love to get presents! I love to get books! My second is concern: What if I really don’t like this book? In this case, I didn’t need to worry about that. I was hooked from page one. The protagonist of The Broken Ones is a policeman in Australia, which (in Irwin’s narrative world), has become a different country since a sudden reversal of polarity. This reversal has changed everything: now each live person is haunted by one ghost, visible only to that person. The consequences of this situation utterly change society. Detective Oscar Mariani is still trying to be a good cop in a world that does not appreciate good cops or reward them, and the murders he is determined to solve are horrendous. Intelligent, grim, and challenging.
Christopher Moore’s writing couldn’t be more different. It’s certainly as intelligent, but Moore tends toward the manic, and Sacre Bleu runs true to form. If you are interested in: Toulouse Lautrec, Paris in the 1800s, the inspiration of painters, the origins of color, and a story that blends all these elements together in a totally unexpected way, Sacre Bleu will tickle your fancy. Moore’s work is always unexpected, frequently a delight.
No Easy Day, as almost everyone in world knows, is about the successful expedition to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, then in hiding in a compound in Pakistan. I wasn’t too sure about reading this book, but in the end curiosity won out, and I found it interesting in several ways. “Mark Owen” is a pseudonym for one of the SEALs who was on the spot, and his account of how he became a warrior and how he experienced the expedition is truly illuminating. And not a little scary.
As some of you know, I moved a few months ago. Yesterday, I found a framed cartoon I’d been looking for since we unpacked boxes. It was in a totally irrelevant drawer, but now it’s resumed its proper place in my office. I’ve had it on my desk for (literally) years. To me, this yellowed Jerry Van Amerongen drawing completely captures the writer's life.
If that doesn't encapsulate the experience of writing, nothing does.
If I were including this cartoon in a book about the writer's life, I might add: "And a writer has to enjoy that experience." The long hours of being physically alone are a condition the writer has to relish, even anticipate. So many people who want to write are knocked out of the running by that single requirement.
It won't surprise most of my friends to learn that I wasn't too good at working in an office setting, and in fact I would never have won "Employee of the Month" anywhere. I was always dutiful but resentful, because I didn't want to be there. I've saved dozens of people years of misery, if you look at it in a certain way. These lucky people didn't have to work with me, since I've been able to work by myself.
My hat is off to those who write AND work. I applaud you, and I hope you are happier working with other humans than I was! And I do hope they’re happier working with you than my co-workers were, sharing an office with me.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris