“If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.”
― Richard Bach,
I always listen to books while I work in my studio. Studio work for me is a bit of painting and a lot of book construction. Once the designing and planning for the pieces is done listening to a story does not distract me. I can glue boards and cut pages while someone reads me a book. It is quite enjoyable. The funny part comes later. Once the book is done, for a short time, the story doesn’t go away completely. Maybe it is because I have the voice of the narrator still in my head but I can pick up a tool or start doing a task and what I was listening to when I did that task earlier, plays back in my mind. The characters flash back. Kelsier and Vin from the Mistborn series fly through the air on their way to avenge their people, Bill Hodges still tries to catch Mr. Mercedes – clack!, and Walt Longmire and the Bear head over to the Red Pony. Why? Maybe because, ” characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.” These flashes occur only until I start the next book. Okay, you think I’m a bit crazy, I don’t mind, but next week when I start painting papier-mache boxes, Wax and Miles are going to be fighting on top of a speeding train again (The Alloy of Law).
You will make the acquaintance of a lot of great characters in this month’s books.
1. A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchey (2012) 464 pages. In her last book before her death, Binchey takes us to the west coast of Ireland where Chicky Starr has returned to open a holiday hotel. The individual stories of all the guests who stay in the first week are what makes this book such an enjoyable read.
2. The Kingdom by Clive Cussler (2011) 392 pages. The third adventure in the treasure-hunting world of husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo. Typical Cussler adventure but still not as good as Dirk Pitt.
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013) 295 pages. A quirky romance with an unusual premise. Don Tillman, a professor of genetics with Aspberger’s syndrome, is seeking a life partner. So, he creates an application for the ideal match. His best friend, Gene, sends Rosie his way. Rosie meets all the requirements but is also more than Don expects. (followed by The Rosie Effect)
4. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930) 267 pages. The novel tells the story of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told in turns by each of the family members.
5. Finders, Keepers by Stephen King (2015) 448 pages. The second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy ( following Mr. Mercedes). A different twist on an old theme as Bill hunts for a killer who is obsessed with an author and his characters.
6. Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing (2013) 340 pages. The author examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six extraordinary men: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver.
7. Camel Club by David Baldacci (2005) 606 pages. The Camel Club a group of misfits who try to uncover conspiracies and force the government to acknowledge the truth. The leader of the club, the “past-less” Oliver Stone keeps a vigil in a tent in the park across from the white house and works as a cemetery caretaker in the evening. During one meeting of the Camel Club, the members witness a real murder and a conspiracy to cover it up. First in a series.
8. So Big by Edna Ferber (1924) 376 pages. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, “So Big” is a novel of turn-of-the-century Chicago. It tells the life of Selina DeJong, a gambler’s daughter-turned schoolteacher turned cabbage farmer, who, as a widow with a young son, lives in a dutch village just outside of the city.
9. The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower (2015) 352 pages. An intimate account of life in the White House from the point of view of the service staff. This covers the Kennedys to the Obamas.
10. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2008) 342 pages. A journalistic account of a much-loved and respected Syrian-born small business owner, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a resident of New Orleans, who stayed in the city after Hurricane Katrina to guard his home and to serve as a caretaker for the property and possessions of his friends and neighbors.