My Week In Books
I was trying to explain a book I read earlier this week to my husband and said, "You know how all of our lives aren't interesting enough to really be the subject of a book?" His response was a well-timed, "Speak for yourself!" I stand by the question though. Not all of us lead a life that merits a book. That said, in the hands of the right author, maybe any type of life can make for an interesting read.
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I really enjoyed Someone by Alice McDermott because it was so beautifully written. I was surprised by how quickly I read it because it was also pretty painfully normal. Just on the right side of being downright dull. It was this book that inspired the conversation between Wonder Boy and I. I put it down thinking, "Well, that was a nice book about a nice person." And "nice" is certainly a positive word. But "nice" isn't what sticks in your memory days, weeks, months, years later. "Nice" is something you do to pass the time and set aside later.
Briefly, against better judgement, I had myself believing that stories had to be about interesting people to make for interesting books. I've many times over seen that that's not the case, and still...
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A while back, a co-worker of mine had her niece shadow her for a day, to learn about the workplace. Throughout the day the niece sat down with different people to learn what they did. With me, we spent most of the time talking about her art and love of cosplay, something about which I know and care very little. She showed me her portfolio and it introduced me, briefly, to a world of fandom like I've never known. People were rendering characters in new ways, writing fan fiction, developing costumes they would like to see characters wear... It was wild.
In Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Cath is not only comfortable in the world of fan fiction, she's one of it's bigger celebrities. She's fallen so in love with the world and characters in a series much like Harry Potter (I say, never having read those books), that she reinterprets the relationships between all of the characters, developing entirely new storylines. Thousands of people log in every days to read her new installments.
The fan fiction is an outlet for Cath when life gets too hard. When her dad falls too far into the depths of mental illness, when she misses the mother who long ago abandoned her and when she feels inferior to her outgoing, popular twin sister, Gwen. When Cath and Gwen go off to college, the world of fan fiction based on Young Adult novels seems less like a cool outlet and more like a safety net.
Over the course of her freshman year, Cath doesn't entirely let go of her fictional world, but she does learn her way through the more tangible, real world.
Rainbow Rowell is a delightful writer. I started this book before bed and then took advantage of a Labor Day off work and finished the book over a lazy, rainy morning indoors. I've now read three of the five books Rowell has penned (see Landline and Eleanor and Park) and I am looking forward the checking out the other two.
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Rowell reassured me that you don't need an outlandish tale to make a good story. Sometimes tyne simplest of stories can pull you in so that in a matter of hours, you've read an entire book. McDermott didn't achieve that with me, but her writing was the sort I lingered over to enjoy the words. And maybe that was pleasure enough.