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2008 Books 41 & 42

41: Deep Writing: 7 Principles That Bring Ideas to Life, by Eric Maisel

Genre of book: Non-fiction, Writing
Grade: C

Deep writing, according to the author, means "writing passionately and well about those things that really matter to you." That sounded great to me, but Maisel chose to demonstrate his seven principles for achieving it by making up five fictional authors and writing about how they reacted to his exercises. That didn't work for me at all. I'd rather have seen real people's reactions, or no reactions. The exercises were fine, but I've gotten more out of other books on creativity by Maisel.


42: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

Genre of book: Fiction
Grade: Pulitzer Prize-winning A+++!

I'm not certain that my vocabulary is equipped with enough superlatives for this one. It's a good thing that I'm not even pretending to write reviews anymore, because I can't convey an overview of what this novel is about; it's too huge, and I don't want my tiny piece of description to make the story sound small. You can expect magic, escapes, comics, art, love, hate, complexity, and mountains more from this book.

Michael Chabon could kill with his prose, so we must all be thankful that he uses his powers for good, not evil. The characters in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay are so detailed and developed that I expect sometime soon I'll find myself wondering what they're doing now, until I realize a few minutes later that they only live in the book. I could gush on and on about the intricacy and the surprises, the hilarious parts and the sad ones, and the welcoming nature of the story. This is what literature is supposed to be, as far as I'm concerned. I can't make you read it, but I hope you will.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
bzdchris
Dec. 2nd, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
I have been wanting to read Chabon for years, just never seem to get him on the list. Thanks for the reminder.

It's wonderful and disconcerting to become so wrapped up in a story that you long to meet the characters "in person" and wonder about "what they're doing now." This has happened over and over again in my life, and I hope it never goes away.
suibhne_geilt
Dec. 2nd, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Here, I think, is where you and I appear to radically diverge... I could not stand the prose in Kavalier and Clay. It was the archetypal example of one of those books I couldn't put down, but really should have. The story was quite engaging, but the writing style had me wanting to inflict great violence upon the author.
nayad
Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
What bothered you about the prose?
suibhne_geilt
Dec. 3rd, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
It struck me as terribly overblown to the point that it felt pretentious. I know that a good deal of that is my own perception, but it was just too clever, too purple, and too much for me.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 3rd, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
Chabon
I've read Chabon and agree his prose is exemplary. If only he could come up with better titles; his one is a little gooey. If you're interested in a book where the prose is not so dense you might try "108th Street" by T. David Lee. Simple story about growing up in the city in the 1950's, it was so funny my wife had to buy some Depends to finish it. Our neighbors gave us a copy; I think the only place it's available is at www.eloquentbooks.com/108thstreet.html. At any rate I enjoy your blog, so keep those recviews coming.

tom L
lonfiction
Dec. 14th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)
Way off topic...
Happy birthday! :)
nayad
Dec. 14th, 2008 12:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Way off topic...
Thank you! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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