What draws a reader to a certain writer? We have all read books that were New York Times' Bestsellers that we found, well, less than stunning. On the other hand, hasn't each of us picked up a quiet novel that blows us away? The skills and strengths of certain authors makes their work sing - to one person. Is it well developed characters, a rollicking plot, the power of the setting that is a favorite calling card of a favorite author?
Jack Gantos. Joey Pigza books. This author, simply, and beautifully, combines prose, poetry, and humor. For me, it's the humor. It's brilliant and to be admired.
Read this first line of Joey Pigza Loses Control:
"We were on our way to Dad's house and Mom was driving with both hands clamped tightly around the wheel as if she had me by the neck."
Love it. Love this author.
A reader of this blog, Five, handed me Roland Merullo's In Revere, In Those Days after a Grub Street South workshop. She probably thought I'd forgotten about it, but it's been on my bookcase, waiting its turn. What a book! Usually I read through the night, finishing a book within days or even hours, but not this one. The story itself is quiet, the characters deeply introspective -- I like that -- but it's the writing that forces me to slow down, savor the craft behind the words. Thanks, Five, you were right. I hope what I send you is equally satisfying.
Humor drives most of my favorite books, too; intelligence lurking behind the humor or the mystery, a message that shines out from another, deeper layer. I was on vacation this week, so books on CD in the car were my primary resources: YA faves Hoot by Carl Hiaasen and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a surprisingly timeless classic, especially when read by Eric Idle of Python fame.
Sorry to wander off topic, but I couldn't help but share my happiness. The first box of author copies of Negotiation Generation have arrived. If you'd like a taste of what's inside, you can watch a video clip of my appearance on last Monday's Boston's Fox 25 Morning News show. I spoke about why some children push boundaries more than other children, and what parents can do to reduce power struggles.
Negotiation Generation will be in bookstores September 4th, 2007; you can pre-order your copy today at your favorite online book seller.