Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Good Stuff

I'm sure I'm late to the party here, but I thought I'd give a book recommendation for anyone still doing some late summer reading. My mother strongly urged me to read Stockett's The Help, and after hearing all the hype in print, I decided to check it out. While I can see why it appealed to popular culture, it is not The Great First Book that I had hoped it would be. It's a mediocre book, and the author frequently slips in the language when she writes as a black woman. She gets it right and gets it best when he writes as Skeeter, and I hope Stockett can come to that realization and improve her writing as a result.

Anywho, the writer I stumbled upon and fell in love with is Chris Cleaves. I started with his second novel, Little Bee, which is not at all something I'd normally pick up.
I was suckered in by the back cover, which teased me by not revealing anything other than this was a story of two women from completely different worlds, whose lives became inextricably intertwinged (in a way that was NOT a love story). I won't say anything else except that you should read it. It's moving, relevant, painful, and hopeful all at once. It's great writing and an even better story.

Once I found how much I liked Cleave, I picked up his first book, Incendiary.

Again, not something I would have been interested in, but I'd already developed a trust in Cleave, and he didn't disappoint. The story of a British woman who lost her husband and son in a terrorist attack, it's an epistolary novel full of humour, wit, and a search for sanity in an insane world. I think I'm largely drawn to the writing because it's set in London, and I adore the narrator's voice. How Cleave writes so well in a "female" voice is an altogether different matter worth further discussion and study.

So, if you're looking for good reads, these two are infinitely better than The Help.

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