Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When Lightening Strikes

Before I get into today's post, I HAD to link to this incredible review of The Department of Lost and Found. I was truly so touched and humbled by it, so I hope you take the time to click over. (Haven't bought the book? What are you waiting for?)

So, the other day, I was hungry for a new book. So hungry that I couldn't wait for Amazon to deliver. (I'm a Prime member, so normally, I press "order," and the books are here within two days.) After dropping my son off at camp, I mosey to Barnes and Noble, and grab Jonathan Tropper's How to Talk to a Widower.

Well, I start it that afternoon on the subway to a meeting, and by the time I turned off the light for some shut-eye, I was 200 pages deep. (It was so good that I let my son watch an extra episode of Dragon Tales, just so I could keep reading. The very model of good parenting, I know!)

I woke up the next morning, desperate to read more, toted it to the dog run, (bonus for the pooch: he also got extra play time because I was so absorbed), and then skipped out on some work to finish it, sadly turning the last few pages because I didn't want it to end. God, I miss that book.

Anyway, after I lovingly placed it on our bookshelf, I started thinking about what, for me, makes a book click. It's almost intangible, you know? I mean, every book I buy, I hope that this magic will happen, but it doesn't always, in fact, it doesn't often. Every last thing about this book worked for me. Mostly, I suppose, it was the voice: if I'm not digging the voice of the narrator, the rest of book is shot. But there are other things too - what I really appreciated about HTTTAW was how I could be cracking up in one moment, then welling up in the next. (Yes, I actually started crying in the dog run! How mortifying!) Its emotional resonance really impacted me. And the character's story arc was also totally believable. By the end, even though I suspected it was coming, I really felt like, "Yup, that could happen. Those changes not only work, they're gratifying to the reader."

It was everything I hope for as a reader, and what I aspire to as an author. Will it win the Pulitzer? Hell, no. But it was all that I ask for and more out of a book. I'm now off to order Tropper's back list and hope that he pulls out the same stops for his previous works. (And no, I don't know the guy, so I'm certainly not shilling for him out of obligation or anything like that!)

So...have you read any books recently that captured this magic?


Trish Ryan said...

Tropper is so fabulous! I don't even know how I started reading him--I think I found one of his paperbacks somewhere and happened to pick it up. I'm now a huge fan. PLAN B is probably my favorite, but his other two are great, also.

And congrats on the great review :)

Larramie said...

What a beautiful review of TDLF, which obviously had the "magic" for that reader!