Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good read:

I've just finished Malcolm R. Campbell's The Sun Singer and I really enjoyed it. It's the story of Robert Adams, a high school-aged boy, and his gift of precognitive dreams. Although he foresees the tragic death of his best friend's sister, he's unable to prevent it and so he shoves his ability aside, refusing to engage it. When his grandfather dies unexpectedly, Robert resurrects his gifts in order to complete a task left undone by his beloved grandfather. The story has parallel universes, portals, synchronicity, and magic -- all deliciously woven together.

The book's back cover contains this label: Contemporary Mythic Adventure. I quite agree.

Although I really enjoyed the story, I feel like I have to say a few words about the beginning chapter. I found it awkward, choppy, amateurish, filled with grammatical errors, and full of one-dimensional characters (of which only two get filled out by story's end). There's also this weird script/layout that occurs on page one and shows up periodically throughout the book, where the prose divides into two columns and the text on the left continues in the standard typeface while the text in the right column is italicized. The intent, I believe, is to showcase, simultaneously, two opposing thoughts/reactions of/by one character to a given situation. The result, in my opinion, is so confusing and odd that it does more harm than good. The whole of this chapter was so off-putting that had the story not gotten pretty quickly to the good stuff, i.e., parallel universe, I would've abandoned the read. And speaking of the "good stuff," I found that although the lack of proof reading was still evident (thought instead of though, then instead of than, etc.), there wasn't any of the awkwardness in phrasing or abrupt switching from one speaker to the next that characterized much of the opening chapter. It was very smooth and very engaging, which makes me think Mr. Campbell was really in his element while composing this part of the story. The downside is that it highlights just how disintegrated the opening chapter is with the rest of the book; it makes it feel like an afterthought.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Great read:

I've just finished Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and I really, really enjoyed it.

First, though, I feel like I ought to get some credit toward my Goodreads 2013 reading challenge for reading a 722 page novel (yes! 722 pages!), that instead of 1 book, it should count as at least 2, maybe even 3. I'm kidding. Sort of.

The 722 pages go by quickly. This is fantasy, and the fact that I enjoy fantasy is only a recent revelation to me (see my discovery, here). The world Mr. Rothfuss creates is amazing -- rich and believable and all encompassing. The likeability of the protagonist Kvothe (pronounced "Quothe") is astounding as well: we root for him and believe in him. And the scene where he ends up on his own is one of the best I've had to pleasure to read. It was haunting; utterly surprising and shocking, it and its immediate aftermath has stayed with me.

I have only 2 small quibbles with this story. The first is when it switches from the present time and assumes a "let me tell you what happened" tone. This is how the entire story is told, actually, where Kvothe recounts his life's events to Chronicler, who is busy copying the oral into written form. And, really, Rothfuss does such a marvelous job in drawing us into young Kvothe's world that we very quickly switch gears and are absorbed into the unfolding scene and story. My reaction stems from the intrigue that surrounds the older Kvothe and his situation at the book's beginning, that I didn't want to leave it to start over as it were. My slight irritation was short-lived, though.

My other quibble has to do with the ending. It feels like it just sort of ends. On the one hand, the story was already 722 pages long, so, really, it was time! On the other hand, I wanted a bit more of something... resolution, closure. Instead, it feels very open-ended, very much like a pause, and I'm guessing that the 2nd in the series, The Wise Man's Fear will pick up seamlessly where this one leaves off. But this just stopping, if you will, left me slightly unsatisfied and is only a very small notch against a fantastically fabulous read.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Great read:

I finished Anne Leigh Parrish's collection All The Roads That Lead From Home at the end of December, right before the new year started. And what a way to end the year. I loved these stories. Quiet, honest, powerful. They all have a low key sort of quality to them that is deceptive... the characters and their stories wind their way around your heart and through your mind, staying with you long after you've put the book down. Immensely satisfying.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Counting Proper

My short story Counting Proper is live at Blue Lake Review. It appeared originally in the May 2009 issue of Bryant Literary Review.

Happy New Year!