Old Moon

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Uses of Fiction Redux

The older I get (and to quote Wallace Stegner, "I get pretty old") the more I appreciate the resilience and courage of the young. Did we ever have those qualities to the degree we see in youth today? Thinking back on some of our hard times, illnesses, loss, and at least some privation, I realize we probably did. Why then is it so difficult to accept difficulties when they come upon our children? There is a blog with the title of "Canswercolumn.blogspot.com" Thanks to Glenda, I looked at what is an inspiring, albeit melancholy, read.

I've just finished reading Bailey White's Quite a Year for Plums. (I seem to get around to books rather slowly--this was published in 1998.) The string of what amount to vignettes about some unusual people in a very small and specific place makes the reader view their everyday lives as if through the wrong end of binoculars. Everything that happens, and nothing dramatic in the usual sense does, despite the clarity of its detail, seems to be happening so far away that it's hard to associate it with reality. When you reach the end of the book, however, the effects begin to take hold on your memory. They provide an antidote to some of the grand and awful affairs that are threatening to drown us all.

I have to view this as another validation for creative writing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Don't Have to Get in Line for On Line Reading

My publisher has introduced me to some blogs and websites entirely new to me. [Take a look at www.epicauthors.com]. A propos of my request for a time frame for the release of my second novel in paper, she let me know that my concerns over how to publicize an e-book and its potential readership are misplaced. She scolded me for not using my blog to promote my books. It remains to be seen whether Maiden Run, due on line in March can pull in a few more readers than Settling has since it hit the Net a couple of years ago.

More than one blog has hosted discussions on the question of whether a book that must be read on a computer, Kindle, Mobipocket, iPhone, Blackberry, or what have you is really a book. The consensus has been negative. An argument for the convenience of carrying your reading material in something that will fit into your pocket without the weight of one or more packages of paper seems valid. It must be a boon for travelers. It does seem to me, though, that you have to factor in the cost of the device (in the hundreds of dollars) against the (compared to paper) small charge for downloading a book. It's likely that figured in units (like the weight or measure for your groceries) that expense might be easy to justify.

Then there's the question of how easily you can read pages of text and whether photographs or other illustrations are satisfactorily displayed. If you're reading, say, a book about hunting in the Rockies, you're going to care about how the Bighorn Sheep look and you won't want to miss the incredible scenery.

There isn't going to be an easy answer to this debate, or a conclusion any time soon, I'm sure. I'd like to take this opportunity to give a "heads up" to you up-to-date readers and writers about the growing on-line reading opportunities, and ask fiction readers to look out for Maiden Run -- and don't forget that Settling is available on line too from www.WriteWordsInc.com and Amazon, among others like Fictionwise, Coffeetime, All Romance ebooks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Inspiration or Demoralization?

I'm reading one of John Updike's later books Seek My Face . It's almost a treatise on Art (with a capital A) as well as a penetrating revelation of a woman's inner world as an artist herself and as the wife of an artist, as a member of her socio-economic class and of her time and place. So many layers with so many resonances that it's a little like reading a textbook, even while falling into the space and time of the telling. What a writer Updike was!

Imagine a novel that manages to recall and analyze modern art from the Great Depression up to the present. He doesn't even confine himself to the US. I do wonder whether a reader with no familiarity with the famous names of the period (he uses interesting made-up names for a number of characters, while mentioning Picasso and Manet, Miro and Dali and some others) would understand some of his critiques of lesser-known artists. The thing that amazes me is that it doesn't matter. If you never heard of Gorki, you still get the picture not only of how his work looked, but how an outstanding art critic saw it. The interweaving of art criticism and character delineation is astounding. You keep thinking you're going to be bored any minute, but I couldn't stop reading.

It's hard to decide whether books like this make a would-be writer throw up her hands in despair and quit, or knuckle down to try all over again. I'd love to hear how others react...