October Review

October 2017

With a trip abroad, I got more Japanese books and started on some rewrites for Brief Lives that will probably push it into an even bigger book. My mind is swirling and cranking things out. So here goes.

Books Read

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First off, I got through Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Despite the upcoming movie, I wanted to see more of the famed mystery could do. Overall, with And Then There Were None, I’m not sure I entirely enjoy her style. The whole thing revolves around how smart the main character is and really there’s little plot, just who did it. Not that impressed. Beyond that, I don’t know how you can make a movie out of it, or at least an entertaining one.

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Then I got through Story Genius. I’ve been trying to read at least one book a month to improve writing. This months, like many others, falls short of great. It pretty much follows the format and style of writing one particular author found helpful, and although this may help newbies, I got very little from it besides boredom.

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Fortunately, after two lackluster reads, I jumped into Naoko. From the get-go, this book is awesome. It’s about a mother and daughter who get into a train crash and upon rescue, we find the mom dead, but her spirit has taken over the daughter’s body. Returning to her normal life, she and her husband, the main character, try to figure out a way to live. Not only is it fun, the ending blows you away. Definitely a must read.

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With the high, I dove into another YA title: Waking Time. The premise seemed to possibly grab my interest—taking place on the UW Madison campus where I went to school. Unfortunately, beyond that, there was little here driving this thing forward beyond slight pokes at time and the stodgy writing and plotting you’d expect of a sixth grader. This one deserves a pass.

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I followed it up with We Should All Be Feminists. I have her Americanah on my TBR list, and chose this first. It’s short and is actually based off a speech—something I only found out after reading it. Despite it’s origin, I liked it. Everything she says hits the topic spot on and makes entire sense no mater what country you are in. This seems particularly pertinent now with the Weinstien and other allegations going on.

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For my book club this month, we read Perfume. I’ve wanted to read this for ages, but never got around to it—although I have to admit, I saw the movie first and found it weak and without focus. Regardless, my wife loved it and found it creepy, so I gave it a try. Though I loved much of the beginning and the ironic ways all of the main characters encounters died, the last half of the book felt off and missing something. Above all, it was a quick read, so not all that bad.

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Then on my wife’s prodding, I read A Man Called Ove. It was as expected—moving, heart-touching, entertaining, but mawkish and too anecdotal at the same time. I did like the main character being a curmudgeon. His grumpiness mirrored my emotions on many things, despite him having decades on me. I did notice in one review how they abhorred the treatment of fat people in the book, which I didn’t really see. If anything, it felt like some were being to sensitive, but then again…

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Finally, I found my next book at the library and had to read it. The Hate U Give. This book is lighting up the awards list this year and is already rumored to be in production for a movie. The beginning is bumpy until you get submersed into the plot, which doesn’t kick in until the police shoot the protagonist’s friend for pretty much being black. Otherwise, it is steeped in black culture and references, which may be good for an outsider, like some of my students, but the fact that so much of it is laid in there, at times, it comes off heavy-handed. Another thing I noticed was that it is an impossible book to disagree with. Every negative review got slammed by angry hate-mongers, who for some reason don’t like hate-mongers. Ironical.

Progress on 2017 goals

  • Finish Crasher: Done—sent to: 0 more this month. Total: 82 agents
  • Read Life: A Manual: Done

The Fountainhead: Done

Here I Am: Done

Ship of Fools: Done

Tess D’ubervilles: Done

Middlemarch: 540 pages.

  • Send ‘All the Things in the Unknown World’ to agents: 225—done!
  • New Book: Brief Lives: pushing beyohnd 83,000 words.

Next Month’s Agenda

With my hard work this month, my goodread’s goal is nearly finished, so I might slow down on the reading. Still, I got a lot to go and get read, so maybe not as well. I hope to complete Brief Lives fully and start work on submission work for it, as well as tackle finishing up querying for Crasher.

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