Friday, June 27, 2008

Which Is More Frustrating: Reading Lyrics to a Song You Cannot Hear? Or Reading About a Book You Cannot Buy?

I'm reading a really, really good novel right now. Unfortunately, you cannot read it. Nya, nya.

It's called Rainmaker's Wrestling, and it is by the inimitable Flicka Spumoni. If you've any sense at all, you will go and read the few chapters she has posted on her blog. It's not enough, but it will have to do.

I was determined to read this book, so I badgered Ms. Spumoni until she finally sent me a copy. Then, I was afraid of it; it sat on my shelf, rebuking me, for a few months. I mean, what if I couldn't get into it? Whatever would I say to Flicka, especially after having made such a fuss? I knew I liked the first chapter and the few middle chapters that she had made available, but here is my big secret: I am not a fiction reader.

What? The very title of this blog comes from a novel.

Yes, and a very good novel at that. But, even so, I am no fiction reader.

I do read some fiction, but it is very rare that I find a story that I can lose myself in. And, I tend to love Brit Lit best, and ignore or disparage most North American novels. There are many exceptions, but it's still safe to say that I lean toward non-fiction nine times out of ten. Of course, I read such a volume of books in general, that quite a few novels have been in the mix. I manage to work in about three or four a year.

Also, I knew that Rainmaker would be dark in places. There is a sense of brooding, almost American Gothic, that permeates the first chapter. It is all very beautiful in its stark, dark way, but could I sustain the stomach to read further? Would a girl who is drawn to the "light, bright, and sparkling" in literature be able to adapt to a tale that starts with whoredom, drugs, and abuse; especially when a little baby has to be born into all of it?

Well, I went into Chapter 2 with a catch in my throat, but my fears were immediately swept aside by this gripping tale. It is almost ludicrously easy to immerse yourself in this story. The characters are very real -- you would swear that these were people that the author hung out with yesterday, though the story begins sixty years ago. Within the first five chapters, I had already belly-laughed out loud once and cried twice.

Now, there are pitfalls when a story is this good. Sometimes the author makes the worst things happen to the best people. That is another reason that I tend not to read fiction. If it's non-fiction, I know pretty much who will live and die going in; novels tend to suck you in until you are completely devoted to a character or two and then the author causes their demise, which throws you into an emotional vortex. I will admit that after a certain chapter in this book, I was so broken-hearted that I had to set it aside for a few days; then, I got mad at Flicka, and left it aside for a few days more. The tragedy of that chapter infiltrated my dreams and gave me nightmares. It would pierce me suddenly when I was just going about my business, causing me to sob with as little control as I had the first time I read it. Dammit, Flicka! I've got a life to live here. You've gotta stop doing this to me.

But, of course, I'm back into it now. You cannot leave the other characters hanging just because your heart is rent. I'm still devastated, but I read on.

So, I am completely envious of Flicka's obvious and abundant talent for writing fiction. I'm a complete dud at that art form. Not only can she write novels, but she wrote a short story a while back called The Troll, The Flute and The Forbidden Music, that I printed off and have yet, because I find it so enchanting.

Alongside the envy, in fact overshadowing it in every way, is this tremendous pride I have in my genius friend who has blessed and privileged me with a copy of her novel. I am just so proud to know her and read her work before it's published. Because it will be published; of that I'm sure. She is a mighty fine writer.

Someday, you will be able to read it, too. Until then, I repeat: Nya, nya!

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