Goals Summary 2019 – Wk# 42

After, like, two months of inconsistent output and an inability to do much of anything in a timely manner, last week felt like coming back to the gym. Harder than it should be, but oh so wonderful once I actually got to work.

(Full Disclosure: I rarely go to the gym and never feel good about it upon any sort of return. I used the metaphor because I figured it was relatable, not because it was something I ever actually experienced.)

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsVicious
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Yes! It was easier than expected and I’m happy with how it turned out.
  • Read one short story
    • No. The weekend was a lot busier than I expected.
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret
    • Yes. Through sheer force of will.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Again, it always feel shitty when the word count says zero, even when that was the plan. But, this was actually a really productive week. I did my editing, I read a book, I wrote a few blog posts, and went to a totally awesome library conference and even managed to sneak in some time to see some whales in the sunrise. I have zero complaints.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, twilight, cloud, outdoor, nature and water
Oregon is so freaking gorgeous.

The revision of Exodus is off to a great start. Chapter one required some obvious cleaning up (mostly those pesky dialogue tags I seem to love in my earliest drafts) but nothing that broke my brain. Hopefully this will be the case for the entire project.

I’m thinking about what to write for Nanowrimo and I think I’m going to work on the sequel to Exodus. I had a spark of an idea today while I was driving home so we’ll see if it develops into anything actionable by November.

I should write a review for The First Wife’s Secret, but I’m kinda afraid to. I hated it. Like, the worst Goodreads rating I’ve ever given, hated it. And I’m not sure what the point of a review like that would be. It’s liable to turn into something pretty ugly and I don’t want that. Regardless of how I feel about it, the author put a lot of time and effort into her work and I don’t want to be a jerk about it. I don’t trust myself NOT to be a jerk about it, because I have a lot of feelings. So… there may not be a review this week, despite finishing the book.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

I sat here for a while struggling to come up with a fourth goal for the week, but figured if it was that hard to figure out, I probably didn’t really need to make it a goal. I sort of want to work on brainstorming and outlining the Exodus novella I want to write for Nano, but I really think I need to spend a bit more time back in the world first. Which editing will do nicely.

I have a bajillion books out from the library right now, one of which is Kameron Hurley’s new collection of short stories. Which I am DYING to read. So, yeah. I’m gonna read one of those ding dang stories this week. Pinky promise.

This weekend is my bestie’s thirtieth birthday, so I doubt I’ll be much use on Friday or Saturday. Thankfully Sundays seem to be my best day for writing work right now and I never have plans on Sundays. What a coincidence!

I may be back later this week with some news, which if you follow me on twitter or tumblr you already know about because I screamed it into the ether-net. But, I want to cool my jets a little and give this post its space before I share anything else.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

Advertisements

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #41

Oh, Blogland…

Remember that time when I thought I was back and then I wasn’t?  Oops.

Last Week…?

Weekly Word Count: 746

Well, there wasn’t a last week’s goals because I haven’t been holding myself accountable pretty much since June. I did do a bit of reading last week, which felt really good, so at least there’s that. AND I finished The Lament of Kivu Lacus! I knew I was close to the end, but didn’t think I’d manage to finish it in one morning writing session. Go me!

Let’s move on to the goals for this week!

 What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s SecretImage result for the first wife's secret

Not anything too taxing here. I should be blogging quite a bit this week because I have the September Reading Round Up and a book review to share. I got a collection of short stories from the library so I ought to be able to read one of those no problem. I’m out of town this weekend for a work conference (which I’m very excited to attend!) so should have downtime in the hotel to finish reading this book club book before our Monday meeting next week.

The hardest bullet point here is the editing. You know how it goes. Editing blows. BUT, I do really want to get this project done and submitted so I think I’ll manage to make time for it Sunday morning.

Now that my BFF is back in town and managing Starbucks stores, I’m spending my Sunday mornings holed up with some coffee, headphones, and writing projects. Just like the old days. Thanks to my job’s early wake up call during the week, sleeping in isn’t as easy as it used to be. But, the husbando NEEDS his beauty sleep, so I get up and have some me time. Reading, writing, that sort of thing. It’s been quite the indulgence and exactly what I need to reset and prepare for the week ahead.

So, that’s where I’m at. Nothing too daunting for my first week back in the writing saddle. I’m feeling good about it, all things considered. I’ll be back soon Bloggarts to talk about all the reading I did in September.

Til then,

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Good evening Blogland!

Sorry this is so late, but I procrastinated by talking with out of town family for hours today. Then I helped walk Trevor through some stretches before he got into his workout today. So, here I am ready to talk all about our book club meeting and The Paper Magician.

Last night the book club congregated at Taproot, our favorite local bar with healthy eats and a very laid-back atmosphere. Towards the back of thetaproot building there’s a nook I refer to as the Book  Nook, where the owner (who also was the Officiant at my wedding) put up a ton of shelves with old hardback books from library rummage sales. Coupled with the worn, comfortable couches and custom wood coffee and end tables, it’s the perfect spot to meet.

And everyone showed up! Those of you following along these last couple years know that it’s a rare meeting when everyone’s in attendance and everyone read the book. I was really excited last night.

But, I’m even more excited because everyone was really thrilled with The Paper Magician.

This is the part where  I tell you that there are spoilers ahead. You were warned.

The book is set in the late 1800s, just outside of London. Ceony Twill has just graduated from The Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, in half the time, only to have her hopes crushed. She wanted to be a Smelter, a magician who deals in metal, but instead will be a Folder- a magician bonded to Paper. Print

It’s important to note that once a magician has bonded with their element, all other forms of magic are unavailable to them

While Ceony never really reveals why she wanted to desperately to be a Smelter, she is crushed when she’s delivered to the home of Mg. Emery Thane, who is to be her mentor for the next 2-6 years.

And though he’s younger than she imagined, and attractive in a thin, nerdy way, she’s an absolute brat her first day with him. He knew that Folding was not what she wanted, and he did his damnedest to show her the wonders of Folding, all prepared before her arrival. Paper snowflakes, cut and painstakingly Folded, and then imbued with a chill all of their own. An entire garden of paper tulips, blooming in the wind. Paper birds flitting about the house, and Jonto, a paper skeleton capable of simple butler-esque tasks.

Oh! And, on the second day, after seeing her stroking a small dog collar mournfully, Thane stayed up all night to fold her a small paper dog, who she names Fennel. He’s the size of a terrier, and has all the anatomy of a dog, Folded in complicated patterns and links. That gesture made me cry pretty good.

And so Ceony starts her studies. But, just as she’s coming around to her lot in life, prepping meals and memorizing her Folds, Emery’s ex-wife shows up and rips his heart of his chest. Literally. She’s what’s known as an Excisioner, a magician who manipulates human flesh. It’s a forbidden practice, and one Ceony knows nothing pretty much nothing about.

Ceony’s quick thinking saves the Magician, but only temporarily. A paper heart, no matter how well Folded (her’s wasn’t) can only last so long. So she sets out, against the Magician Councils orders, to retrieve Emery’s heart and save his life.

Using some advanced magic left behind by Thane, Ceony is able to track Lira (the ex-wife) to a secluded cave on the coast, and there she has the  Magician’s heart in a ceremonial bowl of his own blood.

Unsure of how else to get the heart back, Ceony uses her small pistol on the woman, only to find that the Excisioner was able to manipulate her flesh into spitting the bullet out.

This woman means business. But so does Ceony, because she was starting to fall for Emery. And she refused to go home without his heart.

Lira worked some dark magic that sends Ceony into Emery Thane’s heart, and there she’s on the run, fleeing through the chambers of his still beating heart to try and escape the evil woman, as well as find a way out.

pagesofadventure_jynettetigner_oilpaint
Fanart entered in a competition, Pages of Adventure by Jynette Tigner

Ceony learns a lot about Thane as she travels through his heart. Each chamber has a different theme to the memories. Good memories, bad memories, hopes, and fears are all presented, and Ceony must maneuver through them to find a way out.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I really liked this portion of the book. What a crazy cool way to develop a character, by literally taking a stroll through his heart!

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much, especially since it’s so short, only 213 pages. The world building is thin, and the clubbers had some questions in that regard, same as I did. Are Magicians a public fact? How much do magicians earn? How many are there? These kinds of things. We wanted more!

But, ultimately, this story is about Ceony and Emery, and establishing the magic, which is all done very well. The book club agreed, all of them eager to read on to the next books. I already have the rest of the trilogy on the Library Book table, waiting for me to finish up with The Six-Gun Tarot.

So, I very much recommend this book. It’s whimsical, romantic, and cute, but also has some darkness to it that keeps it from being too sappy. You can tell it’s Holmberg’s first novel, but I have every confidence that things get ironed out as she continues to tell Ceony’s story. As it is, I did enjoy the dialogue and the prose very much, and I will admit that I would read aloud to myself in British accents, because I’m a nerd like that.

Don’t worry, only my dog was subjected to it. I was otherwise very much alone.

Anyway, I hope you all give The Paper Magician a shot. It was a ton of fun, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Until next time, Blogland.

 

BZ

Editing: On Research

Blogland!

It’s been a quiet week spent reading for Book Club. I just finished The Paper Magician last night, but won’t be posting the review until next Thursday, after our meeting. But, at least you have that to look forward to!

What I’ve really been focused on this week is research for The Steel Armada. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever actually done full blown research for a book. I’ve done some quick Googling on the spot to get clarity on an issue or scene, but I’ve never sat down with a text and taken notes and built up details and the world from there.

I had my first study session on Monday. For the first time in a long time, I took the manuscript out into the wild (Governor’s Cup, a local coffee shop downtown) and put in my earbuds to bring the din of espresso machines and conversations down to the comforting bustle of business.

It was a nice hour spent pouring over Sailing Ships. As previously mentioned, that book is a gold mine of info, but it’s actually a little advanced for me. It’s giving me terminology and diagrams, but it doesn’t really explain what the various parts of the ships do. So, I know where the mizzen is a on a ship, but I don’t know what function it serves.

20170223_140140
Dammit, Jim! I’m a writer, not an artist!

So, my research is leading to more research. Which is awesome! I’m taking notes, learning new things, and letting those things further develop the world. And when the world develops so do the characters who live in it.

But, I want to talk a little about research in general, in terms of writing fiction.

Those of us who took any Creative Writing courses have heard the “tried and true” advice spoken with finality: Write What You Know.

…Yeah. About that…

Funny thing for Speculative Fiction authors is that this advice falls flat. I’m writing about a desiccated planet and the small fraction of humanity that survived on a flying armada of steel ships above it. I don’t exactly know what that’s like.

But, I know what it’s like to be a seventeen year old girl falling in love with her best friend. I know what it’s like to lose your father figure. And I know what it’s like to demand more from the people and the world around you.

And anything I don’t know, like the architecture of rigged ships, I can research.

Which is really the most important thing I’ve learned so far. Speculative Fiction authors can still write what they know, they just have to know a lot about a ton of different things. The key to great world building is developing the small details that lend your world credibility. Yes, there’s much in Fantasy and even Science Fiction that is made up of things we can never truly know before we set out to write them. But, I can learn as much as I can about the things that are real, or based on reality.

Do giant sailed ships made of steel fly through the air? No. But, those ships of my creation can follow the look and feel of wooden rigged ships from human history. And the more I know about that, the more realistic I can make the ships of my creation.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to be an expert of fully rigged ships after this book is finished. And I doubt I’ll ever try my hand at sailing even the smallest of sailed craft. That actually sounds terrifying to me. But, I will be able to name the parts of a ship with clarity and confidence.

Watch out Jeopardy! I’ll wreck that ship category when the time comes!

(See what I did there? Wreck? Ship? Hah!)

 

aeroponics-vs-hydroponics
I have only the slightest idea of what any of this means…

Another big research topic I’ll be doing soon is Aeroponics versus Hydroponics. These people have food, both plant-based and livestock, which means they grow crops. How? What’s their nutrition like? Their livestock’s nutrition? These are questions that need answered.

Not because they’re vital to the plot. They aren’t. At no point does a potentially under-nourished cow play a critical role in freeing this society from its oppressors. But, if I can lay the foundation of my own understanding, I can address any questions that might come up.

For instance, now that I think about it, goats are a far more believable protein source than cows. They’re way more versatile eaters and take up less space, while providing milk, cheese, meat, and hide.

Goats.jpg
Who doesn’t love goats? Look at ’em!

But, if you haven’t noticed by now, the research spiral can be a dangerous thing. I think it’s why I’ve avoided it so far. Because questions only lead to more questions, and I have a tendency to want them all answered.

Let me tell you now, that is not necessary. You don’t have to answer every single question. Because ultimately you just need enough truth to wrinkle out any doubt from your manuscript.

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to do too much research. You just have to recognize when to rein it in and bring your focus back to what really matters: the manuscript.

So, I’m spending a lot of time doing research this round of edits. But, I still feel hopeful about an August finish. I think this round of edits will go by faster because there’s a lot of content creation happening. That’s way more interesting than going through line for line and reworking things.

But, all this content creation means I’ll probably have to do a fourth draft, to clean up the lines I’ve added in order to flesh everything out. Bummer. I still want to have all of that done by August.

I’m going to need an endless supply of coffee and snacks.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary wk 7

Hi Blogland!

Today is a new day. A day full of possibility, and it’s off to a wonderful start. A stomach full of some egg frittata concoction my husband made, and the bolstering aroma of percolating coffee hangs in the air.

I’m normally off on Mondays (for the time being) but the husband is also off thanks to its being President’s Day. I’m not letting that stop me from sequestering myself in the office and getting work done, however.

In my last post I told you all how sick we were last week, and I’m pleased to say that we’re both back to feeling relatively normal. There’s still the occasional sneeze and stuffy noses in need of tissue, but otherwise we’re well again.

So, how did last week stack up goals-wise? Not as badly as I thought.

Last week I wanted to:

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorumarcanum-unbounded
    • That did not happen. I didn’t even open Scrivener until last night. I considered writing for a tiny moment, but we had company and dinner in the works, so I decided against it.
  • Finish Arcanum Unbounded
    • Done. I don’t think I’ll do a review on this one, mainly because it would either be overly simplistic, glossing over the stories, or far too in depth as I gave each story its own review. Just know that, if you’re a Sanderson fan, you should read it.
  • Publish two blog posts
    • Barely. Last night’s little update counts, so I got to put this one into the black.
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Yep. Edited about three chapters last night. This is still technically a read through, but I’m taking a lot of notes, both on the pages and in a designated notebook. So, none of these chapters are ready to be called “Draft #3”, but the feedback I’m getting and the notes I’m taking or forcing me to do a lot of thinking and world building. I’m very excited about this editing round!

So, not too bad. Considering the week we had, and how awful I felt, I still managed to get most of my goals done. That feels damn good, and keeps the momentum going forward into this week.Print

What’s on the agenda for the next seven days?

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading The Paper Magician
  • Publish two blog posts
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits/read through/research
    • A note on this one: As I’ve mentioned before, world building and character development are my two main focuses for this round of editing. I’ve done a lot of great work already in answering reader questions and addressing where there’s too many blanks. But, I don’t have enough knowledge about ships in general to describe them and let my characters discuss them in a convincing way. So, I’m doing research. I’ve loaned a book from the library called Sailing Ships by Björn Landström and it is full of diagrams and terminology for all kinds of rigged ships! I’m really looking forward to delving into it and learning more about the world of The Steel Armada.sailing-ships

Book club meets next week to discuss The Paper Magician, so I need to hurry up and get that done. I’m only on chapter 2, but according to fellow Clubbers, it goes pretty quick. After that I’ll need to read and write as much as possible in the two following weeks, because Mass Effect Andromeda releases on March 21st, and I will be useless for a long time after that.

In other news, I’m meeting with the creator/editor/producer of The Audient Void this evening to “discuss some things regarding books”. He and his wife operate a local indie bookstore, and since I work at a library I guess they want to meet up and chat. I’m not really sure about what, and I’m always a little nervous about vague social meetings, so I’m trying not to over-think it too much. I really like them both, so I’m sure it’ll be a fun and interesting conversation.

I’m forcing myself to look forward to it. Anxiety aside, I know I’ll enjoy myself. I’m just not good with unknowns…

Anyway, coffee is done brewing, music is playing, and there’s fiction to write and edit. I’ll talk at you all soon Blogland.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

For once, I can barely hear the clack of the keyboard as I write this. Instead, my office is overwhelmed by the jilted crash of my $30 printer doing its damnedest to give me a refined physical copy of The Steel Armada.

It’s mostly working. It can only print about 20 pages at a time, so I have to keep stopping to refill the paper, and the contraption is housed in a less than convenient place, so I have to get out of my seat, grab a sheaf of papers, and then kneel under my desk to actually feed the beast.

But, having a physical representation of all the hard work that went into making draft #2 look as good as it does feels amazing. Now that it’s sitting here, all pristine and shiny, I almost feel bad about tearing to pieces over the next few months.

Almost.

But, we’re here to discuss The Last Unicorn.

This was the flast-unicornirst book of Book Club session #3. We were all pretty excited for it, and it was a quick read. I was thankful for that because I cut it pretty close trying to read a million other things. But, it only took about two days to read Beagle’s fantasy classic. Only myself and one other person showed, the rest being ill. So it was a quick meeting too!

I would say that this story is a modern fairy tale. It doesn’t follow any of the writing conventions I’ve been taught, which made it a little difficult to read. Sentence structures are often awkward, and character perspective shifts all over the place. These are things that would be a death sentence for a book seeking publication today, but Beagle’s novel managed to get away with.

Probably by the virtue of its romantic whimsy.

Like most fairy tales I’ve read, there are a lot of consistent themes in this book, and when they raise their head they take the form of lines so startling in their beauty and truth that they stand out from the rest of the clunky prose.

The Last Unicorn is a book about beauty, love, and time. The Unicorn, for she has no other name, is a creature whose beauty is unmatched, and her immortality leaves her immune to love and time. She wants nothing, needs nothing, and likes it that way.

But, when she hears two hunters say that all the unicorns have vanished from the world, she is driven to leave her secluded wood to seek them out. An unwilling adventurer, the Unicorn soon realizes that men cannot see her true form, because they no longer believe that unicorns even exist.

schmendrick-meets-the-unicorn
Schmendrick meets the Unicorn, artwork by Mel Grant

But, not everyone is so convinced, especially not those who have any hint of magic in them. Schmendrick is one such man. A magician of the bumbling variety, he is plagued with doubt and ineptitude to the point that his rescue of the Unicorn from an evil circus owner turns into the Unicorn rescuing him from a furious Harpy.

He’s also my favorite character.

Ever hopeful and bumbling, Schmendrick accompanies the Unicorn on her quest, and they soon meet up with Molly Grue who is a bitter and cynical woman who lived with a would-be Robin Hood. But, the glory days of their robberies were far behind them, if there ever were such days, and upon seeing the Unicorn Molly Grue leaves the band of thieves behind.

haggards-castle
King Haggard’s Castle, artwork by Mel Grant

And so the story goes on, and it follows a very fairy tale formula, while at once mocking the fairy tale formula. I think that tongue and cheek element also redeems the story from its choppy delivery.

In order to save the Unicorn from certain death, Schmendrick turns her (quite accidentally) into a startlingly gorgeous human woman. The three of them then visit the castle and gain employment with the bitter and cursed King Haggard. Ah, but the cursed king has a noble son, Prince Lír, who promptly falls in love with the Unicorn, now known as Lady Amalthea. And the longer she’s human the less she remembers of herself and the more she falls for the Prince.

But, in the end, Molly Grue and Schmendrick figure out how to release the unicorns, and help Amalthea return to her true form. But, her love for Lír has changed her forever. She tells Schmendrick that some small part of her will always be mortal, will always long for something, though she wants nothing, and that time suddenly matters to her, though she is immortal again.

molly-meets-schmendrick
Molly Grue meets Schmendrick, artwork by Mel Grant

And that’s all sad and whatnot. But what I think was the more powerful element in the story is the love that blossoms between Schmendrick and Molly Grue. They started out as bitter opponents, literally keeping to their own sides of the Unicorn, and by the end they were an unspoken team. After the Unicorn leaves their presence, Schemndrick watches Molly laugh and shake her head until her hair fell loose around her shoulders, “and she was more beautiful than the Lady Amalthea”.

They came together naturally, and their normalcy is only enhanced by the presence of the Unicorn. Her undeniable otherness shows just how beautiful normal love can be. Another line that struck me was when Schmendrick lifted he and Molly Grue up the cliff face. “The magic lifted her as if she were a note of music and it were singing her.” It’s such a delicate and pretty line, made all the more meaningful because it’s Schmendrick’s newfound magic it refers to.

I should add that I’ve never seen the film, though I hear it’s currently on Netflix. I’ll have to add it to the queue. And, I’ll have to add this book to my shelf. It deserves a place with my other favorite fairy tales, Howl’s Moving Castle and Stardust.

I really wish I’d seen the movie and read the book as a child. I think it would have been more powerful and influencing to me then. Now, as an adult, I read everything a little too critically to fully appreciate the magic in it. At least, I feel that way sometimes. The clunky passages wouldn’t have mattered to 12 year old me; I probably wouldn’t even have noticed. But 27 year old me got stuck on each one.

But, 12 year old me would have had a completely unhealthy crush on Schmendrick, so at least I avoided that. Who am I kidding? I loved the guy! I just get to move on a bit quicker. On to Jackaby!

Anyway, this is mandatory reading for fantasy fans. It’s an essential of the genre, that knows its tropes and uses them purposefully to show how silly they are. It’s clever, and poignant, and fun to read.

Now, I just have to watch the movie!

 

BZ

Book Review – The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

Hello Blogland!

Today has been a wonderful day so far, though I admit I wish I’d got an earlier start on this part of it. But, my best friend’s dad (basically my second dad) is arriving in town today, so I prepped a big dinner and did some house chores. The next three hours or so will be dedicated to blogging and fiction, and it will have to be good enough.

Last night was the first meeting of Book Club session #3, and it didn’t go that well. Three of the five people didn’t show, though they all contacted me ahead of time. So, I’ll get into the meeting, and the book more tomorrow.

Today we’re here to discuss The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. wildeeps

I learned about this book from my friend and co-worker, Matt. He’s a well read mofo, and can be damn cerebral when it suits him. He can also spend hours figuring out Cookie Monster’s extended family based on geographical location (i.e. Curry Monster for India, Kimchi Monster for Korea, Sushi Monster for Japan, and Gravy Monster for Canada, etc.). His versatility never ceases to astound and amuse me.

Anyway, he read this book a few months back and raved about it to me. I added it to the Goodreads TBR list, and promptly forgot about it. Then, while perusing the library’s catalog for new Sci-Fi and Fantasy, it popped up. I put a hold on it, the only one to do so, and waited.

When I finally checked it out I was surprised at how thin it was. A whopping 212 pages. Immediately I had doubts. Fantasy this short meant that world building would be minimal, or character development would suffer to accommodate it. I wasn’t wrong…

But I wasn’t right, either.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is such a strange, fantastical story that I find it difficult to write this review. There are so many conflicting elements in this story, things that threw me off and alienated me as a writer, but enthralled me as a reader. And educated me immensely as both.

Part luxurious prose that stands out in the genre, part Hip-Hop dialogue that definitely stands out in the genre, and part mythological ballad that brings it all together in this blur of whimsical and visceral language that finds its own rhythm and song.

It was really hard to get into at first, and my own insecurities didn’t help. All the characters in this book are black, as it takes place in what I believe to be (a possibly VERY distant future) Africa, and the main character, Demane, is gay to boot.

kai-ashante-wilson
The only picture I could find of Kai Ashante Wilson

As Matt and I agreed, we are not the target audience of Wilson’s novel. And I worried that my distance from Demane’s experience might make it impossible to enjoy or even really understand what the book was trying to tell me.

What a silly notion. For sharing experience and encouraging empathy is the true magic and purpose of fiction.

Yes, at first, it was difficult to follow the exposition. And just when I’d found the rhythm, suddenly harsh and unexpected dialogue would throw me off all over again. Until, completely beyond my awareness, it all seamed together into one voice. By the end the telling of Demane’s story was as natural to me as listening to my stepmother speak. This book lilts in a similar way as her thick Brazilian accent does and it required as much willingness to listen as her voice does when I’ve been away for a long time.

I don’t want to go into actual details of the plot, because the way it all unfolds in the book is really important. Telling you a rough explanation of events would just ruin it, and do it absolutely no justice.

That being said, I fully expect to purchase a copy and reread it after I’ve had some distance from it. It’s a book whose ending will directly affect how you read the preceding passages.

The world building is thin. It’s not a focus of this book, but it is there. It also seems to be set on Earth, because there are enough familiar places to suggest it, but no real proof. But, the story doesn’t suffer from it. The character’s are even subtly built, with sparse and purposeful language.

This is a book that uses your whole brain, long after you’ve finished it. I’m glad it wasn’t longer, because it would have lost a lot of its impact by shedding more light on places and people. The bits that we get are given to us for a reason. This is writing that truly embodies the idea that every word must serve multiple functions, and it is beautifully done.

It’s this that has put Kai Ashante Wilson firmly on my list of authors to watch. I look forward to reading more of him. And you should too.

Until tomorrow Blogland,

 

BZ