I may not have accomplished many of the other things I planned to in March, but at least I finished all the books I listed at the beginning of the month. No fooling!
→ RED MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson - It took me three months to get through this book, reading on and off, bouncing from an ebook to a paperback and back again. It's a big, full novel, and I'm going to have to write more about it later, but the short version is that I was blown away by the fascinating story, even though at times I set it aside for a while. I thought I might want a break from life on Mars after this, but I think I'm going to have to start on the second volume of the trilogy right away.
→ THREE BAGS FULL by Leonie Swann - I thought this was going to be a hilarious story about a flock of sheep trying to solve the murder of their shepherd. It is that, but the book also gets much darker than I was expecting. When I described the book to someone, they asked if it was for kids, and the answer is a definitive "no". But if you're prepared for grownup topics and like trying to figure out a story before the characters do, this is a great and still mostly fun read.
→ THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY by David Levithan - A novel about a relationship presented as a series of dictionary entries. Each page of the book contains a word accompanied by a thought or scene that the narrator feels defines that word. The entries appear in alphabetical order, but this really is a novel, meant to be read from beginning to end. The story progresses non-linearly but deliberately, presenting the rise and fall of the romance between the unnamed characters. It's a powerful little book. This excerpt is a chunk from the middle of the book (the letter I), and this Twitter account offers more definitions in the style of the novel.
→ THE REPORT by Jessica Francis Kane - I blame this book for the fact that I didn't get anything done earlier this week. Once I'd started, I just had to find out where the story was heading. Kane takes a real-life mystery that was never entirely solved -- on an evening in 1943, how were 173 people crushed to death entering a London bomb shelter? -- and creates a story to explain the events of that night. The sad tale, with a complex cast of imagined characters, unfolds beautifully.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Kathy Crowley, guest blogging at A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing, considers what happens to our work when we put it in The Drawer: "Maybe it's time to rehabilitate the drawer, start thinking of it as an active rather than passive part of the process. Not a sign of stalling out or hitting a dead end, but instead its own stage -- a stage that happens to look very different from the writing/editing/revising stages."