Saturday, December 20, 2008

An early Christmas present for you....

No. Not more jokes. Although you want them, don't you? Go on, admit it. You laughed just a little at my last post. What, just a smile? You guys are hard to please.

Anyway, there are some books I want to press on people because I loved them and know others will too. Others I need to hug to myself a little first. This second lot are much more precious because it's like there's a ping button in my brain they set off. Hey, they say, this is what to write next, or how to write it, or even what to write about. Not copying but the opposite. Allowing me to take off in a completely different direction. In her too excellent not to mention again book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp talks about the spine of her project. How she can use another structure - myth, picture, story - to lean her own art against but no one would ever guess where the original inspiration came from. This is what these books do for me. It's a door that suddenly opens in my brain - or that's how it feels. Aha, another route has been activated when I thought I was just banging against solid surfaces.

Am I making any sense?

Anyway.... such a book has been Elizabeth Strout's amazing, wonderful, human Olive Kitteridge. A novel in stories. Suddenly, I know what I'm doing in Virginia in January now. Suddenly, I know what I'm going to do with a whole lot of floating ideas - poetry, short stories and possible novel notes - that I was rather despairing of.

I'm so excited - it's like getting a sudden scent and knowing you're on the right track.

So an early Christmas present for me. And I promise if you read this book, then an early Christmas present to you too. It's my book for 2008. And I've hugged it to myself for far too long. I need to start pressing it on people now.


jem said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I like books that try something different with story structure.

I've pledged that in the new year I'm going to allow myself to sometimes buy books when I hear about them rather than adding them to wishlists and waiting a long time to get them. It's an indulgence but I'm justifying it as all the name of a writers life! I've started it early - and just ordered a copy of this!!!

jem said...

Just read this last week. Thanks for the recommendation. Lots to chew over. To think about the structure, striking and unusual but very effective. And to think about Olive, who attracts and repels in fairly equal measure. I think its the sort of book that will stay with me for a long time.