California writer Lorraine Devon Wilke presents her new novel, Hysterical Love, from a man’s point of view. Men have been writing from women’s points of view for centuries, not always effectively or convincingly. Entering the heart and mind of a character from a group to which one does not belong is always a challenge and Wilke deserves praise for daring to do it.
While it might be tempting to contain the magic of the Old Kingdom series under genre classifications like “fantasy,” or “young adult” fiction, I think it’s fair to say that Nix is a writer whose work goes well beyond genre definitions and edges towards the classic. The work will appeal to readers of all tastes – particularly those who want to be transported into a world richly drawn and exotic, and yet so full of a very human verisimilitude of life, coming-of-age, and loss.
Though a strong plot is what drives the book forward, it is characterisation that makes White Lady an engaging read. Mia is particularly well drawn, and the most pervasive voice through the book – her bravado and insecurity as she tries to deal with her mother’s betrayal providing a psychological anchor to the more chaotic story of drug deals and blood lust.
In Chewed Confession, Cheryl Kerwin’s Indie Excellence Finalist Book Award book, characters are connected in a straight-forward linear manner. In this case, the characters in these stories are often friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. Thus the main character of one story might casually call a friend or family member and this friend becomes the main character in the following story. This is generally the pattern throughout.
What is interesting about this book is that it is presented in such a way as to appear serious and it is only in the fineprint that fiction is mentioned (and oh, I’ve just noticed the words “delusional” and “satire” in the title). If a newbie to zen philosophy picked it up, there’s enough sentences in this book to convince them it’s non-fiction; a book to be studied and unravelled.
All the characters are terrific, utterly convincing; there is an authentic sense of place: Chelsea, N.Y., a blue-collar neighbourhood where authority figures, police officers most of all, are treated with suspicion; and there’s Fortune’s voice, streetwise but by no means hard-boiled, compassionate yet missing nowt. And with a nice line in epigrams: ‘A man in prison needs a human word.’ ‘Unanswered questions are like lurking monsters.’
Breadth of vision and the ability to construct tension from the first page maintains the drama as the events wind and twist through each step taken toward the inexorable truth about Perla, her parents, her lineage and her country. It is a journey well worth taking.
Sam North also achieves the virtually impossible by treating the subject of auras, ghosts and fortune-telling seriously and intelligently. It could all too easily become a shallow ghost story or cliched horror novel. His colloquial, matter-of-fact style is something to do with the reason it isn’t, but it is more than that.
The discussion of film elevates the novel above and beyond category romance. Alain’s Uncle Bernard liked films that “had an idea… moved people…[and] gave them a dream to take with them” – all elements necessary for a good story, whether on film or in print. Through Alain, Nicolas Barreau lists the “golden rules” of good film comedy: “a chase is better than a conversation”; “a bedroom is better than a living room”, and “an arrival is better than a departure.” Barreau uses these storytelling principles to good effect in One Evening in Paris.
Small Blessings touches on issues like the consquences of adultery, along with alcoholism and drug abuse, but uses them as devices rather than serious themes. At the end of Small Blessings we find Rose crossing her fingers, “hoping against hope that life really might be that simple.” Unfortunately, real life isn’t as simple as it is presented in this feel-good romance.