Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bound Treasure

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate,” said Johnny Depp’s character Jack Sparrow.
            For me, treasure is a favorite novel I’ve read until the binding breaks—and better yet, unexpectedly finding a new favorite novel. This weekend, I woke early and decided to read instead of knocking around the house, making noise, and waking my husband. I went to the bookshelf, to my I-want-to-read-that-someday section, and pulled down a thin novel titled P.S. Your Cat is Dead.
            I didn’t know anything about it, but with a title like that, how do you not give it a shot? An hour and a half later, I decided I ought to get out of bed.
What exactly did I find so compelling? Structure grabbed my attention first, followed by short paragraphs, immediate conflict, and humor.
            The main character lost his girl friend, his job, his apartment’s been robbed (twice), he received an eviction notice because they want to tear down the building, and his cat is sick. In spite of one horrible thing after another happening to this guy, the author manages to write it in a way that elicits smiles and occasional chuckles.
            Aside from being only a pleasurable read, can it also serve as an education? I want to write a book that takes hold and hangs on like this one did me. Specifically:
o   Pacing – how can I read that long and totally lose track of time? Because the story moved ahead in enormous leaps. You barely catch your breath before the next big thing happens.
o   Page Turner – I had to know what happened next. I’d thought about getting out of bed a couple times, “when this chapter ends.”
o   Humor – the sneaky kind, turn of phrase, developing organically out of the character’s personalities
o   OH CRAP moment – So far I’ve run across only one, but it was HUGE. I suspect there’ll be more, because I’m only about half way through.

Now I need to finish the novel to see if the last half is as good as the first, how the author wraps it up, and if he’s able to maintain the humor—it has turned a bit dark.
It may or may not be my next favorite novel. But if it fails me, I’ll go back to my bookshelf, pull down another novel, and settle into the recliner for a long afternoon of treasure hunting.

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