Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Saturday, November 07, 2015

Some fabulous reading prizes coming my way

It's been a hectic week on my homestead,including putting the finishing touches on a manuscript to be submitted to Harper Voyager Impulse's open call for Military Sci-Fi and Urban Fantasy(my book fell into the latter category).

We'll see how that goes but in the meanwhile, one of the bright spots during the frenzy has been looking forward to receiving some books that I recently won in a pair of contests.

Thanks to Suzanne Beecher at First Look, a copy of City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is due to arrive on my doorstep soon. This debut novel has been the talk of the town, as it's story of New York City during 1977(that culminates in the big blackout that hit in July) is said to be an amazing epic novel of our times. There are several narratives, including a cop hunting down the unknown attacker of a gal pal on the punk rock scene, a brother and sister who have gone down very different paths in life and a wanna be Capote reporter seeking answers to questions that maybe he shouldn't ask.

City On Fire happens to be a great big book in terms of length, as the page count clocks in at over 900 there. I've been wanting to check this out ever since the early buzz began for it and with any luck, it will do more than live up to the hype:

 My other reading prize is a trio that I was able to select from Better World Books, due to my participation in Seasons of Reading's FrightFall readathon run by the lovely Michelle Miller.

One of the books I chose was James Michener's The Novel, which chronicles the journey of newly published work of fiction in four parts, from Author to Editor to Critic and then Reader.

Since Michener was quite the prolific writer by the time this book was released in 1991( he had more than 40 books, most of them fiction in his lifetime), his inside look into that corner of the literary world is certainly worth 
taking a gander at there.

Michener is one of the best known old school saga writers and whose huge books I have tried many times to read but wind up not making it to the last page. He does know how to make a massive story line work yet he can get a bit bogged down in details which slows the pace for me.

However, since this book is a tad shorter and is set in publishing, I might be able to finish it and finally break though that particular barrier. Who knows, I might even be inspired to tackle Youngblood Hawke again, Herman Wouk's fictional take on literary fame and fortune, which should along well with Michener's version, I think:

Kate Morton is another highly praised author who I've attempted to read and yet only got so far in her books. The House at Riverton was her debut novel, a category that I'm a sucker for so I made that one my second choice.

Grace Bradley looks back upon her youthful days as a house maid for the Hartford family at Riverton Manor during the 1920s, reliving a secret long kept. A young poet was said to have killed himself during a Christmas party there but the only one left who can tell the true story is Grace.

A young director making a documentary about that tragedy seeks her out at the nursing home where Grace is living out her last days and opens up that flood of memories which tells more than one truth about that time. The story is said to have a Downton Abbey feel to it and with the final season of that series about to arrive in America by early next year, The House at Riverton sounds like a good companion to have by my side during that sad farewell:

For my final selection, I went the nonfiction route with John Sutherland's How To Read a Novel: A User's Guide. I'm familiar with Sutherland from his prior looks at classical literary work in such collections as Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? and Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet? and he's an engaging person to consult on such matters.

In this book, he goes over the history of novel reading as well as the standards for what it meant to be "well read" back in the day, along with tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of hype in choosing the right novel for you. Sutherland talks about both classics and current fiction, which ought to be interesting , plus I haven't read a good book about books for awhile now and this promises to fulfill that need for me very nicely indeed:

My thanks to both Suzanne and Michelle for awarding  me such great books, which I will eagerly awaiting for(and hopefully not be too impatient with the postal services about). One of the best presents for any reader to get is a book and the only problem that ought to go along with that is making sure you have a proper bookmark handy in order to take those little breaks from your reading that reality requires:

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