It’s not exactly writer’s block. But I have chronic difficulty writing about exceptional books and great American authors.
How long has it been since I promised to finish my review of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy?” Is it a novel about small-town life, or hypocrisy, or intolerance, or poverty? Local politics gone crazy, or class warfare? Darned if I know. I’d have to read the whole thing again to sort it all out. (Rowling is British, but her story resounds in American culture.)
As I read the final page of “The Casual Vacancy,” I was struck speechless. Partly it’s a sense of grief that the book is over. Partly it’s awe at the author’s virtuoso performance. What can I say but, “Bravo!”?
Among contemporary authors, Ann Patchett amazes me the most. I never wrote a word about Patchett’s “State of Wonder.” What could I say? What kind of story is it, science fiction? Corporate treachery vs. scientific deception? Human hubris? The premise is a discovery so unlikely that you find yourself believing it, combined with an adventure so implausible that it has to be real. Yet it’s all nothing more than a figment — an elaborate figment — of Patchett’s hyperactive imagination! (Patchett and the following authors are all American originals.)
I haven’t forgotten about my unfinished review of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.” I’m on p. 448. The pace of the story is picking up as I near the end @ p. 503. It’s a wonderful book tracing an intricate web of human interactions, hypocrisy and deceit. I haven’t written another interim installment of the review (the first part is here)partly because I hardly know where to begin.
And partly because I’ve been busy with so many other projects, like trying to become a photographer and to improve this blog. Hard to believe I’ve written 12 posts on other subjects in the intervening days. Casual Vacancy, despite its length, is a book I would easily finish in two days (and enjoy more) if only I could sit down and read it straight through. Continue reading →
Got it! A first-edition hardback of “The Casual Vacancy,”by J.K. Rowling, published in the U.S. and Great Britain this week. The 503-page tome comes with a cover price of $35 ($36.99 in Canada), but Walmart has it on deep discount at $24.50.
The Casual Vacancy may signal a turnaround for quality in popular fiction. Where can it go but up, after “Hunger Games“and “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Talk about your lowest common denominator!
I plan to do one of my serialized book reviews for Casual Vacancy, with updates posted every few days, as I read.