My reading theme this month was to read linked stories or novel-in-stories in preparation for my own project which I am revising, writing and finishing this year.
“Ask for a Convertible” stories by Danit Brown
These connected stores explore the meaning of place in our lives. Osnat and her American father and Israeli mother finally leave Tel Aviv, a place her father hated but put up with for many years. Now it’s her mother’s turn. She hates America and lets that be known. The stories follow Osnat as she grows up and away from her parents, struggling to find her place in the world.
I read this book with a pen in hand to underline sentences I love. Read them here. I also appreciated how the stories shift between characters instead of following Osnat in a straight line throughout her life which is how my current project is shaping up. It’s nice to see another option done so well.
“The Joy of Funerals” a novel in stories by Alix Strauss
Each story gives us a glimpse into murky yet startling world of loss and grief. The novella, “The Joy of funerals” ties the stories together as we meet Nina who has attended the previous funerals in hope of creating some kind of bond to fill the gaping loneliness she carries with her. I liked revisiting other characters and seeing their story through Nina’s.
“Stop the Girl” fiction by Elizabeth McKenzie
I remember reading about his book in “O” magazine and feeling depressed. it sounded so much like my project. Linked stories revolving around an adolescent girl, following her as she grows up. Then I picked it up and read this review on the cover: “single-handedly reinvigorates the coming-of-age genre.” That threw me into another creative tailspin because that must mean that mine is the cliche coming-of-age story. Once I got past all the angst I read it and loved it. I read it again this month and still love it. Ann Ransom is quirky but not desperately so. The grandmother, Dr. Frost is one of the most memorable characters ever. Things I learned and want to keep in mind as I write: the importance of place; a strong voice; surround her with other strong and memorable characters.
“Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper” by Sark
This is the third of fourth time I’ve read this one. It’s the perfect antidote to any kind of creative block. It’s especially lovely to read when it is cold and snowy out- the whimsical and colorful pages brighten your day and your spirit.