My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, May 15

Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson again, simply because she’s such a fascinating read. In a front cover blurb for When Will There Be Good News? Stephen King says it succinctly and accurately: “As a reader I was charmed. As a novelist, I was staggered by Atkinson’s narrative wizardry.” That’s high praise from the king of horror, who himself often engages in narrative sleight of hand. Yes, her narrative wizardry, her legerdemain, her “now you see it, now you don’t.” She keeps the reader on his toes as she leads him back and forth in time, holding up an event and then examining it from different points of view, showing it to us before and after, then snatching it away to begin another chapter in another time with a new set of characters. She tends to rely too much on coincidence, but as Jackson Brodie says, “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.” She coincidentally hooks diverse characters into her plots, not finalizing their connections until the very end, and though the reader notices the unlikeliness of the connections, he doesn’t care because of the serendipitous plot endings. She inserts little mental asides in parentheses, sometimes in brackets, some just bare, some in italics and some in quote marks. I’ve quit trying to figure out what the different methods signify. But the real skill, the real charm, lies in the characters. They think and say and do things that knock me out with their unexpectedness. Reggie, a tough little sixteen-year-old, is a good example. She remembers waving goodbye to her “mum,” who was going on holiday, tragically drowning in a hotel pool. The memory of that farewell was “murky, half made-up, with the missing bits filled in. Really, every time a person said goodbye to another person, they should pay attention, just in case it was the last time. First things were good, last things not so much.” She describes her Latin tutor: “Ms. MacDonald was in her fifties, but she had never been young. When she was a teacher at the school, she looked as if she ironed herself every morning and had never betrayed a trace of irrational behavior (quite the opposite), but now not only had she embraced a crazy religion but she dressed as if she were one step away from being a bag lady, and her house was two steps beyond squalid.” Later, she’s considering death and God’s involvement: “Was there a kind of lottery (Reggie imagined a raffle) where God picked out your chosen method of going—‘Heart attack for him, cancer for her, let’s see, have we had a terrible car crash yet this month?’ Not that Reggie believed in God, but it was interesting sometimes to imagine. Did God get out of bed one morning and draw back the curtains (Reggie’s imaginary God led a very domesticated life) and think, ‘A drowning in a hotel swimming pool today, I fancy. We haven’t had that one in a while.’ ” Dr. Joanna Hunter also considers God, and says something so true to my heart, so much as I’ve always believed, I have to mention it. “Joanna didn’t believe in God, how could she, but she believed in the existence of the soul, believed indeed in the transference of the soul, and although she wouldn’t have stood up at a scientific conference and declared it, she also believed that she carried the souls of her dead family inside her and one day the baby would do the same for her. Just because you were a rational and skeptical atheist didn’t mean that you didn’t have to get through every day the best way you could.” Louise Monroe, a detective who is attracted to the ex-cop Jackson Brodie, is one tough cookie, and considers this about criminals and the death penalty: “Sometimes Louise hankered after the days when prisoners were made to walk endlessly on treadmills or turn crank handles. Pedophiles, murderers, rapists, should they really be making books ? If it were up to Louise, she would put the lot of them down.” As I’ve said, nearly everything is quotable. I hope I live long enough to read everything Kate Atkinson writes, long enough to continue quoting her.
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