December 6, 2011

December Reading Plan

Here are the books I have lined up to close out my first year of monthly reading lists:

BLUE MARS by Kim Stanley Robinson - I've been reading this a lot during the past week, after setting it aside for a while, and I'm excited to see how the rest of the story is going to unfold. I expect to finish this month, completing a year-long read of the trilogy.

A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan - All the book people were talking about this book at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. It won a Pulitzer Prize and a bunch of other awards. I've been intrigued because I understand it features a variety of narrative styles and gimmicks, and has sections set in different time periods, which are two of my literary attractions. I didn't read it earlier because I also understand it might qualify as linked short stories rather than a novel, which doesn't appeal to me. Okay, yes, and maybe I also didn't read it earlier because everyone else was. But I picked it up at a bookstore the other day and decided to give it a try. Despite hearing about this book for months, I have no idea what it's actually about, so I get the relatively rare treat of starting a book with no story expectations.

MAN IN THE WOODS by Scott Spencer - I hadn't heard of the book or the author until the recent rebroadcast of a Fresh Air interview that intrigued me. This book starts with an ordinary man who takes an ordinary walk through the woods and ends up doing something terrible and unexpected that he has to decide whether to cover up. I was particularly interested because the basic premise has a lot in common with Will Allison's LONG DRIVE HOME, which I read recently, and I'm curious to see where a different author goes with a similar scenario.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Becky Tuch at Beyond the Margins discusses a writing problem I've struggled with in Zen and the Art of Withholding Information: "Perhaps your protagonist is not the kind of person who blabbers about every feeling he's ever had to anyone who will listen. Still, in order to convince your reader of his/her pain, in order to get your reader to empathize with him/her, you will not want to withhold key facts about your character's life. Nor will you want to withhold major aspects of your character's emotional experience. Take it from me--your readers will only feel cheated and confused."

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