Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joy Fielding's WHISPERS and LIES

O. M. G. ! ! !

This book was recommended by a friend and truly knocked me thru a loop.  It was slow going for me thru the majority of the story, I do have to admit.  The narrator's paranoia without substantial foundation was really starting to grate on my nerves!  I kept waiting for the pivotal moment when the suspicions - finally! - all came together, for the a-ha! moment, the bone chilling shiver that runs down my spine...

Well, I got it alright.  There at the end...  Those last few chapters had me riveted in place, eyes rapidly scanning the words, my hands clenched so tight to the book I thought I'd break it's spine with my light bulb dimly brightening until the room was completely luminated!!!  I turned the pages hurriedly, yet cautiously lest I miss a single word, holding my breath while shaking my head and saying, "no, no, no, nnnnoooo...."

O. M. G.

Clever, clever book.  Had me hook, line & sinker... I lied awake for hours after I finished just thinking about it.  And I'm seriously considering, before I return it, of re-reading it since I have a new perspective - oh, just got a shiver!  Yes, it's one of "those" kinds of books.  The kind that stays in your thoughts, where you feel for the characters, bond with them beyond the page.  Oh my!  You know, I really should NOT be surprised!  It reminded me, more than once as I was reading, of Chris Bohjalian's "The Double Bind."  If you haven't read that, you should.  AFTER you've read "Whispers & Lies," tho.  Ooooh, too good NOT to share!

~ quotes ~

No, I was the one who'd rushed eagerly inside, throwing caution and good sense to the wind.  That was one of the more interesting things about Alison, I decided, as a low buzz settled behind my ears.  She only seemed to be confiding in you.  What she was really doing was getting you to confide in her.

Besides, something insidious happens to women in our society when they turn forty, especially if they're not married.  We get lost in a heavy, free-floating haze.  It becomes difficult to see us.  People know we're there; it's just that we've become a little fuzzy, so blurred around the edges we've begun blending into the surrounding scenery.  It's not that we're invisible exactly - people actually step around us to avoid confronting us - but the truth is we are no longer seen.  And if you aren't seen, you aren't heard.
That's what happens to women over forty.
We lose our voice.
Maybe that's why we seem so angry.  Maybe it's not hormones after all.  Maybe we just want someone to pay attention.

What is it they say about second marriages?  That they're a triumph of hope over experience.

I was thinking it doesn't matter how old we are, fourteen or forty, we're ageless when it comes to love.

Later, of course, when age rounded those stubborn shoulders and infirmity softened her more abrasive edges, she became gradually less formidable, less self-righteous. less prone to poisonous outbursts.  Or maybe she just became less.

In becoming less, she became more, as the architect Mies van der Rohe might have said - more tolerant, more grateful, more vulnerable.

I sat back in my chair, stared at the window, saw the ghosts of my past etched in the dark mirror of glass.

After eighty-seven years, it would be as if she'd never existed.

The instinct for survival, the will to live, is an amazing thing.

How apropos that the final sentence of the book is the most fitting, the best summation:  "Good word."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reading Like a Writer

Before I begin this very long trek into the depths of my thesis (ok, I'm slightly exaggerating), just wanted to show how MANY pages are turned down... 

I'm thinking I'll need to tackle this chapter by chapter...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Undone by Karin Slaughter

I discovered Karin Slaughter by accident a few years ago.  I was off on a weekend getaway & in need of something to read (I'm a major reader when traveling).  I picked up the book "Faithless" for 2 reasons:  1) it was my favorite genre, suspense-murder-thriller fiction, and 2) it had a Georgia connection.

I was thrown into a world of intrigue!!!

I finished the book, cover to cover, on my trip and immediately sensed there was more I needed to know.  As soon as we were home & I had access to a computer, I did an internet search that confirmed my suspicions:  Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver and Grant County, Georgia were serial fiction and I was several books behind!  The following week I was out on my lunch break scouoring the bookstore for more Karin Slaughter Grant County books and lucked out @ Barnes & Noble.  They not only had the ones I needed, but they had autographed copies!  WooHoo!!!

That was only a few years ago - maybe 2008? - and I have read her religiously ever since (but with a quirk - I should attempt to explain this at some time in depth but until then here's a quick briefing:  I'm a bit of an odd duck in that I must read a series in the format of the original text I read... soooo!  If I first read a series in paperback, I must collect/read all in paperback.  Same with a hardback - if I started with a hardback, I must collect/read the hardback.  Really becomes an issue when you really, really like an author and have to WAIT for their book to be released in paperback!  Of course, I read Slaughter in paperback!  So, I'm behind in my reading, OK?).  So, back on task here, I've read her books in order ever since.  And not just her Grant County series - she's started another equally intriguing series known as "Will Trent," after the main character.  Love him!  But I digress...

So, I'm a Karin Slaughter reader and quickly - very quickly - realized she's somewhat of a different thriller writer than I typically favor.  She's...  well, she's... how do I put this delicately?  Hmmm, I can't so I'll just say it: she's gruesome.

The crimes in her stories are HORRIFIC.  And graphic.  Dennis LeHane is depressing.  John Sandford is intense.  Karin Slaughter is gruesome.  I wonder, what does it say about a person with such an imagination???  What does it say about me that I can't seem to stop reading her???  Oh, my!

The last book of hers I read, Beyond Reach, really threw me thru a loop and I was depressed for days.  She killed off a beloved character so I was sad.  My favorite character actually.  So, I decide that was IT!  I was NOT reading her anymore!!!  What purpose would there be now?  And yet, here I am, having just finished "Undone" and miffed because I realized I missed a book during my hiatus!  And yes, it has been all I can do NOT to stop at the bookstore everyday this past week to pick up my copy.  Oh, it's driving me crazy!

And so, back to "Undone."  It was true Karin Slaughter style: baffling characters, infuriating personalities, frustrating circumstances...  and that's the people, not the crime.  The crime was also typical Slaughter:  shocking, mind boggling, confusing, questionable, unexplainable...  Frankly, I'm a little disappointed in the story this time.  Harrumph.  This time I feel like Karin overly tried to explain the circumstances leading up to the crimes.  Where she typically lets the story unfold and we, the reader, make discoveries along the way, she kinda sorta laid it all out for us in the end, like a Jessica Fletcher mystery where someone dialogs it all out instead of the action speaking for itself.  And you know what else?  She left us hanging with a point or two (what about the anorexia?  what about the website?  am I the only one that connected "Anna" with "pro Anna"?  Surely not!).  And another thing, Ms. Slaughter - did you do your homework?  If so, please explain to me how a 17yr old runaway puts herself thru college to become a successful interior designer for one of the top firms in the city?  If the premise is she didn't go to college, well, then I'm not buying it.  A top firm isn't going to waste their time with someone who isn't accredited no matter how good they are...  And just one last point: I thought the #11 reference was rather weak.  Make that extremely weak.

But otherwise I loved it.  Truly.  And I am impressed with Slaughter's ability to psychoanalyze people, and human nature, and personality tendencies.  She's an excellent study in character building.  I love how she teaches me about the main characters without writing a dosier.  Oh to be an insightful writer like that!

Of course, as I always do, I stumbled upon some profound thoughts that resonated within me, that I wanted to capture and keep long after the book closes & finds its spot on the shelf next to the other Slaughters in my growing collection.  Without further adieu, Ladies & Gentlemen, presenting Karin Slaughter's "Undone":

His life, it seemed, was all about making himself do things he did not want to do.

Don't make the same mistakes I've made.  Don't get trapped in a job you despise.  Don't compromise your beliefs to put food on the table.

Wasn't that the whole point of youth, to be self-centered?

"You earn respect by giving it to others."

Will had always been a firm believer that coincidences were generally clues.

Will always assumed that when people insisted they weren't lying about a particular thing, that meant they were lying about something else.

"I mean, if you're the good kid in the family, making good grades, staying out of trouble, et cetera, and your sister's always screwing up and getting all the attention, you start to feel left out, like no matter how good you are, it doesn't matter because all your parents can focus on is your crappy sibling."

"My mother always told me there's a fine line between never and always."

"The best way to see if you've missed something is to retrace your steps."

She knew what was behind her, just like she always knew what was ahead.

I'll leave on that note because it's the perfect note.  How wonderful to always know what is ahead.