Thursday, May 02, 2024

Some Annotated Reading May 2

Gail has finished reading a booook. Plot isn't Scorched Grace's strong point. Character and lovely writing are what author Margot Douiahy does really well. I mean really well. I fell in love with Sister Holiday, who describes herself as New Orleans' first punk nun, in, I believe, the third paragraph. The tattoos, the guitar, the smoking, the recollections of sex...yeah, I loved it all. What I also loved was Holiday's intense faith and love of God. Douiahy is a poet, and her writing about faith is lovely. I felt it was okay I hadn't gone to church the week before--or for several weeks, months--because I was reading this spiritual writing. Oh, also, this is a mystery and Sister Holiday is our detective. And, also, some powerful older women characters in this book. 

Gail has finished reading another booook, another mystery, The Maid by Nita Prose. I found The Maid a little slow, until Molly the Maid finds herself in hot water. The book delivers a good twist at the end, both surprising and leaving this reader going, "Of course!" That is possible because Molly is an unreliable narrator. A believably unreliable narrator. Here is something I thought about after finishing The Maid: Molly appears to be on the autism spectrum, though the word is never used. However, autism, at least superficially, is pretty well known in our society now and readers bring that knowledge to the book. But is it really necessary to know about autism to "get" Molly and enjoy this book? Isn't Molly capable of just being who she is without readers labeling or explaining her? 

I've Read Serious Stuff This Week

Dule Hill on The "Powerful" Value of Artists and Why "The West Wing" "Still Rings True Today" by D. Watkins at Salon. I gave up watching The West Wing a couple of seasons in and therefore didn't find the title of this article a draw. I found something totally different of interest. Dule Hill is being interviewed here because he is hosting a series on artists (meaning people in the arts versus people who paint, sculpt, etc.) for PBS. The interviewer says, "...many of the artists featured in the show are happiest when they are lost in their art. The idea of going big or making it is not often the goal." And Hill says things to support that. That's hugely significant for writers. The bulk of us will not go big or make it in the traditional sense of the expression. You do what you do for the sake of what you're doing. You write for the sake of writing.

No One Buys Books by Elle Griffin at Substack is an assessment of information that came out when the U.S. brought an antitrust case against Penguin Random House last year when PRH tried to buy Simon & Schuster. Some of this wasn't new news. The business about big name writers getting the big advances and big support from publishers has been known for a long time. How few copies other books sell was probably known within the publishing world, something the general public and  prepublished writers are less likely to be aware of. And probably still won't be aware of, since these kinds of articles are going to be read mainly by people already in publishing. Also, publishing has been afraid of Amazon for years. Something that sounded new to me was the importance of the backlist. At least at the turn of the century, books went out of print, very quickly and never made it to the backlist. So how big can it be? The kind of backlist Griffin is talking about sounds as if it's backlist titles everyone has heard of--like the Bible and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  These are books people who don't buy very many books probably buy. The business about romance novels going primarily self-published is also interesting, though I still see romance novels selling to publishers on Publishers Marketplace. Nonetheless, I like the idea that someone can be successful going their own way. 

How to Write a Humor Piece From a Headline by Alex Baia at The Writing Cooperative. In days of old, popular wisdom claimed you couldn't talk about humor. No one knew what it was, but they knew it when they saw it. That is not the case. You can talk about humor both in terms of analyzing something that has already been written and in terms of how to write it. I have not worked from a headline/title in the past. I come up with it afterwards. But I am trying to determine which of several humor ideas to work on next, and I think what I'll do is come up with headlines/titles for them and start writing the one I like best. So, at least in the short term, reading this article will have an impact on me.

A Lot More

I've read a number of short fiction pieces from a number of journals and, of course, some humor. But enough is enough for one week!

1 comment:

noochinator2 said...

Speaking of celeb books, I'm waiting for Kris Kristofferson's memoir to be released--- supposedly he wrote it during covid.