Read and Appreciated in 2012
By Nancy Jane Moore
But I did manage to re-read something very good while juggling all that chaos: Water Logic, by Laurie J. Marks. I read it at least twice in between packing and unpacking boxes. Once again I was overwhelmed by both the writing – there isn’t a clunky sentence in the entire book – and the story itself. Marks uses fantasy and magic to tell us real truth about power and violence, about family relationships, about hate, and definitely about love. I would have re-read Fire Logic and Earth Logic as well, but they were packed in a different box.
I did get to some new fiction over the year. I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior. I notice that it is being labeled “lab lit” because it is fiction about science, as opposed to science fiction. But it is also – and perhaps more importantly – a book about class in the USA. Kingsolver is one of the few writers who can write on political subjects without giving her readers a polemic. This book, which provides a hard look at both climate change and poverty, is a great example of telling a fine story without mincing words about the problems facing the country and the world.
I also read Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, which confirmed that he can write a classic detective novel every bit as well as he writes sword and sorcery and steampunk. Chabon is a fine writer and gives props to writers from other genres, but I remain amazed that he has managed to develop a big name literary author reputation when he is, in fact, frequently writing in ghettoized genres. More power to him – he deserves his recognition – but I wish the literary establishment would recognize that he isn’t the only writer who can add aliens, a gun, or magic to his story and still turn out meaningful art.
However, the best book I read in 2012 wasn’t fiction, but rather about writing fiction: Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. I don’t know when I’ve read writing advice that gave me such unqualified joy. Write the story that only you can write, Bradbury says, inspiring me to remember why I became a writer in the first place. He also has practical advice, based on his own experience: he wrote at least 1,000 words a day for many years. I loved this book so much that not only did I buy my own copy after reading one from the library, but I bought several others and sent them off to writer friends. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who writes, or wants to write, or thinks they might someday get around to writing.