Ask anyone; I am notorious for administering active euthanasia on a weekly basis.
Oh, gosh, no! On books! Not people.
As far as I can remember, it’s always been this way. I’m terribly fastidious — about everything. Usually, I put on hold an amount of no less than three books; that way, when one is a stinker, I can move right into the next. Lately, though, this hasn’t been working so well. Last week, I was thrilled to see the “pick up” notification pop into my inbox. When Dear Michael arrived home from the library with two freshly unread books tucked into the crook of his arm, I got that feeling. You know the one I speak of, yes? Magic. That all over tingling sensation at the anticipation of potential greatness and inspirational prose. The deep pull in the pit of your stomach as you lift the binding to your nostrils and breathe deeply, hoping, praying, that what’s printed inside speaks to your heart and soul, but if not both, let it be at least one, please! Please!
It didn’t happen.
I tried. Really, I did. I forced myself to read three chapters (Normally the quota is 100 pages.) and shifted uncomfortably the whole way through, like fire ants were infiltrating my breeches or something. When I could endure it no longer, it was with a lugubrious heart, I offered a silent and final goodbye as I laid the book to rest in the coffin, er . . . on the nightstand. R.I.P.
Though I hope it isn’t always so, there remains to be only two writers capable of holding my attention throughout an entire novel. Oddly enough, their writing styles couldn’t be more different. Or their genres, for that matter. One writes Historical Romance, the other Magical Realism; however, they both write with color; with a stunning array of textures and dimensions, with a prowess that makes me weep with celebration tears.
This, I say to myself, is how good I must be.
So, just who are these woefully wonderful writers? My ardent love is split equally between the non-quantifiable talents of Mrs. Diana Gabaldon, and the story-weaver provocateur Ms. Sarah Addison Allen.
~ The Sugar Queen
Diana’s Outlander series has forever ruined reading for me. It is only my opinion, but before encountering her canonical works, never had I the pleasure of reading anything with such depth and devotion. I can say, without one iota uncertainty, that I know her characters better than I do a few member of my own flesh and blood. Every line is vivid, every description complete; sights, sounds, smells, tastes — she gives you all of them, copiously. Overwhelming at times, Diana imparts an arbitrary authorization that often times leaves you wanting to shout “Mercy!” for the sake of gallant Jamie’s viciously bruised body. When she’s not putting one of her characters into imminent danger, she is spellbinding you with an intimacy that leaves no desire unmet, no sensation unfelt. I do not mean this strictly in the lascivious sense; though, none is more qualified to curl your toes and send prickles roaming up your spine than Diana. I simply mean, she is candidly heartbreaking, opulently bestowing on you real, carnal emotions. She saves nothing for the imagination. I love this. This may come as a surprise, but I have a terrible imagination. And . . . you’re . . . a writer? Well, yes, but — reading and writing are not the same things. Anyway. My desire, purely as reader, is to be offered all seven courses at once. Lay it on me. I don’t want to have to squinch my eyes and search out the description in my sleep-fogged state. Thrill me, woo me, and sate me. I don’t want to work for it.
Have you read anything of hers? If so, I would love to hear your opinions.
Now Sarah is less flamboyant and overt in her strategies for captivating an audience; she comes at you at angle not quite familiar. You almost want to hold the book a few inches away and read askance until you can be sure she’s not about to do something horrible in one devastating line. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that lines such as “And then he died.” are frequent patrons in her books. “Wha? . . .” You kinda sit there and goggle stupidly before deciding you’ll keep reading even if you are angry incredibly cross with her. At times, Sarah gets to the point rather quickly; however, she somehow manages to enchant you with the simple but uniquely whimsical details. Other times, she drops a bit of clue here, a dollop of hint there, all to come together blissfully at the end of the story. Every one of her characters has “a thing”. I can describe it no better than that. You’ll just have to read and see what I mean.
I know I’ve enjoyed myself when, after completing a book, I delay in moving for a moment, wanting to prolong the ephemeral content for as long as possible. All too soon, I know that I must emerge from the bathwater gone tepid, with only the hope that another skin prickling submersion into decadence will take place soon.
I adore these women, and even though I purposely buy and don’t read their work until I’m so desperate for something that moves me, I know eventually I will run out of fresh stories to read.
Here is my request: what are your favorite fiction books? Favorite authors? Have you ever been so utterly engrossed in a story, transported to a place where the people are as real as raindrops, and you’re positively mournful when you must say goodbye to these fictional characters? This is the book I want to read.
Have a great day, everyone!