Thanks, Stephen King. You’ve reminded me that it’s okay for writers to take time away from their laptops, notebooks, and iPads to read. Not only is it okay, it’s required.
From King’s On Writing, “It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but ‘didn’t have the time to read,’ I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to writer. Simple as that.”
How can we argue with a writer of King’s fame and ability? I don’t plan to. I plan to keep right on following his advice. Lately I’ve been cheating a little, however. I’ve been listening to a few books from Audible.com. While walking around the neighborhood and riding the highways of SC and GA, I’ve recently listened to Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil (horrifying yet mesmerizing) and Corban Addison’s A Walk Across the Sun (unsettling and informative).
Both novels keep my attention, taught me something new, and told some great stories. Martel’s book, said to be about the Holocaust, focuses on a donkey and a howler monkey who are characters in a manuscript written by an elderly taxidermist. Yes, I know that sounds a little offbeat, but the combination of characters and scenes and plot worked for Martel. My mind and heart were both affected by this book, and even today I’m pondering how and why there is so much evil in the world. I’m also dying to eat a pear after reading the description of one given by Virgil to Beatrice.
A Walk Across the Sun gives a fictitious account of two sisters who are purchased for sex trafficking after their family is killed in a tsunami off the coast of India. Although they are the main characters, a Washington lawyer and his Indian-born wife are also central to the story. Love, betrayal, hope, redemption, evil, and loss are all themes that Addison weaves into the novel. Some of the scenes were so riveting that I didn’t want to stop listening and get out of the car until they were over. Yesterday I delayed going through a car wash until I learned whether the raid in Atlanta was going to be successful!
My book club is reading Melissa Ford’s Life from Scratch, a refreshing change of pace from the previous more “heavy duty” books. About a young woman who’s taking up cooking in the aftermath of a painful divorce, the novel is entertaining. While it’s a fun read, and a quick one, Life from Scratch has some important truths for anyone who’s ever started over. The value of friendship is underscored too. Although I haven’t finished the novel yet, so far I’m both entertained and impressed by the author’s ability to remind the reader that after pain and loss, there is hope.
These three books have added to my repository of thoughts and impressions and knowledge. How can three such different books impress a person so much? How can different authors use such different styles and vocabulary to touch their readers? How can the 26 little letters of the alphabet be arranged and rearranged in such marvelous ways? I don’t know, but I’m learning…and with Stephen King’s blessing.
Posted by J Bowers