I don’t know how I did it. I know this is test month, but still I got a lot done.
First, I got through a little writing book called The Story Grid. From time to time, I think it’s helpful to jump into this kind of writing to see how others do it or what they think about it. Fresh perspective, I guess. As for this one, it wasn’t totally useless. I liked a lot how he asked for the values of scenes and guided you somewhat into chopping your story apart to see it better. However, there was way too much build-up with not as much pay-off as I’d have liked.
Then I tackled Ship of Fools by Kat Ann Porter. This book has sat on my shelf forever, and I finally got around to it. For one, it’s big with small print—just the book I usually like. In this way, it reminded me of The Recognitions, but where that book blew me away with its common thread and themes, this one seemed lacking. If anything, like most things I read today, it brought up feelings of the current state of America. Supposedly this book made her reputation, but I don’t see it.
Next, I struggled through Naked Statistics. This was a read for one of my students. I wanted to see if it would fit well with her aspirations, and as the excerpts and blurbs claimed it super easy to digest, I thought it would be a good fit. I was wrong. So much of it is bogged down with either heavy math language or nonsensical examples that don’t really stick out. Unlike Freakonomics, this one was not that outstanding.
After that, I got around to Human Acts by Han Kang. I already read her phenomenal Vegetarian, and I picked up this one for my book club, even though I wasn’t able to make it to the meeting. The book recalls the events of the Gwang Ju Uprising and the eventual slaughter of many of the city’s people by their dictator of a president, who ironically is still alive and rich despite all the hatred for him. It was amazing, but all readers should be forewarned that it is artistic, so be ready to use your brain.
Strangely enough, I thought I read an arty book so lets try YA! Wrong. I read Marie Lu’s Legend. I saw hype for it everywhere and—wow!—this is the most basic of books. You could see every plot twist coming pages ahead of it, and the writing rang like something a high school student would do. Everything was off in this book including the ridiculous names of the characters and the insta-love. Way to go YA! Another one on the pile.
From here I needed a brain boost, so I dove into Being There. This very short book came with a lot of thinking. The main character, Chance, gets kicked out of his house but with strange luck always turns out well. The way everyone spins what this gardener says reminds me so much of Trump and the current American regime. It is eerie as it is truthful.
Then I read The Real Dope by Ring Lardner. I think I misjudged this one, too. Many famous writers in the past loved this guy, including Hemingway and Salinger, so I thought I’d give him a try. Unfortunately, his most well known book is You Know Me Al, not this one, though the MC is the same. However, this one—about WWII—didn’t go as well as maybe the original. In fact, it was rather trying. I suggest all to avoid it.
From there, I went more YA with The Walls Around Us. This book sucked. It was nothing more than fancy flowery language parading as a real story. I don’t know what the author has written before, but from all the writing books I’ve read and the classes I’ve taken, I know you shouldn’t have chapters based on one scene or description and that’s it. Nothing happens until the end when you find out why all if it occurred and even then, I knew what was coming. Don’t even try this book!
Luckily again, I dove into my next read, Flowers for Algernon. I read it practically in a day, but unlike the simplicity that makes YA books fast reads, that’s not why I burned through this one. Charlie, the MC, is amazingly portrayed with great complexity. The only caveat for any future reader would be to be aware of the heavy psychological undertones. The author was a psychologist somewhere in his past; nonetheless, it was a great read and very creative.
Having not learned, I jumped into another YA, Every Day. Many loved and hated this, but surprisingly, I actually quite enjoyed it. True, there was insta-love, but he gets it out of the way quickly to have a plot. Then he was rather creative with all the different forms his story took. The only detractor would be the sudden and inexplicable ending. One thing I don’t like is an end for no reason.
Yes, yes, now I”ve made it to the end. I finished the month off with No Country for Old Men. This is my second McCarthy book this year, and I’d have to say it’s better than The Road. Where The Road felt like a zombie movie without zombies, this book was definitely disturbing and interesting. On top of that, he has an amazing way of portraying his characters with dialogue even if the rest seems like everyday movement and action. Overall, good.
Progress on 2017 goals
- Finish Crasher: Done—now I’m prepping to send it to agents next month.
- Read Life: A Manual: Done
The Fountainhead: Done
Here I Am: Done
Ship of Fools: Done
Tess D’ubervilles: Not Started
- Send ‘All the Things in the Unknown World’ to agents: 225. I finished all I can do for this book. From the consensus of many agents, it was interesting but not enough to get attention. In other words, a good third or fourth book, not a first one.
- New Book: Brief Lives: got 16,000 words done so far.
Next Month’s Agenda
For next month, I want to send out Crasher. Also, I want to throw down a lot on the new book. I hope to be productive with all the free time in summer.