Book review: Sharp Objects

Everyone and their mother has read Gone Girl, the third novel from writer Gillian Flynn. It’s been on my to read list forever, like every other book it feels like because I don’t get to read much these days. Between trying to get through some of my own writing and work, and chasing after a very active 4yo, I have time for little else. I used to read on my way to work, but I’ve been using that time more and more lately to scroll through my Blackberry to make sure I am caught up on everything before I get to the office, and to scroll through my Blackberry on the way home to make sure I don’t miss anything after I leave the office. I know, it’s not a healthy routine to get into. Its pathetic in fact. But alas, I am not a famous writer nor millionairess, so I, like scores of others, must work hard during the day, while leaving my writing to the evening hours when I should be sleeping. But I digress…

I did finally do something I haven’t in awhile. I used a few travel hours to power through a book that had been on my reading list since my friend gave it to me after powering through it on her own travels a few months back. And it wasn’t Gone Girl. It was however, Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects, and all I can say is – wow, holy shit, this book was incredible!

Flynn’s writing is crisp, witty, sharp and enigmatic, and everything I wish my writing was. I may be selling myself short, but I often wonder why I can’t write the way I think or the way I speak. When I put my fingers to the keyboard, something always seems to get lost in translation.Not that I am dissatisfied with my words. I’m not. Sure I think I can do better. All writers do.  But Flynn is in a league all her own. It’s no wonder her first three novels have won rave reviews the story is that good and her writing, the way she tells it, that incredible.

The dozens of reviews on her site, including high praise from the master of creep himself Stephen King, speak highly of this wickedly twisted thriller that does indeed as he says, stay with you “after the lights were out…in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave.” Its dirty, nasty, gritty, psychological wickedness that is beyond comprehension. At same time, so believable, the characters so real, they haunt you long after you’ve finished the book.

I don’t know what else to say other than read it. Do it now.

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My reading challenge — YA/supernatural/urban fantasy vs. contemporary/classic fiction

In recent weeks I’ve spent a lot of time in my library. Yes, I have a library. Not of estate proportions, but one that is big to me because it holds copies of books I can’t bear to part with, books that only recently captured my heart and can’t imagine a future without, and books that continue to inspire no matter how much time passes. It’s amazing to me that even after decades, there are books that I can pick off the shelf, open up and turn to page one, with the same excitement that I had the first time I curled up with it 5, 10, and in some cases 30+ years ago.

It may sound like I am obsessed with the YA/supernatural genre. As of late, that has been a lot of my interest because as I said before, life is heavy as it is and why bog it down with serious reads. Just to clarify (in case you were wondering), I’ve read my share of classic and contemporary fiction. I mean, I’ve done…my…time. I’ve studied it, analyzed it, hid works on the bookshelf because after a semester studying nothing but said novel, I could bare it no longer. (Sad but true. Case in point: Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I am still waiting for the love to return with that one. ) So, trust me, when I say I’ve done my share of serious reading time, I’ve done it. Not that the books I have been reading lately aren’t serious….but you get what I’m saying, right?

We all enjoy a little escapism now and then – visiting places that don’t exist, getting to know people who aren’t real but very well should be because they are someone we’d like to know. Hell, I even write with this goal in mind: to create places readers will want to visit, characters they will want to meet, and a world they will want to live in, if only for a short while.  But in living in these worlds, I’ve missed out on some of those that left an impression on my mind and in my heart.  Some of these novels may have been too heavy at the time – more daunting than I was ready or interested in that moment in my life. But I’m ready to revisit them…with a twist.

Beginning next week I am going to start a new reading challenge. For every new YA/supernatural/urban fantasy book I read, I am going to follow up with a contemporary or classic work of similar theme and then review the two side by side. In most cases some of the contemporary or classic works I may have read. But in some cases, they will be those I started and perhaps put down or thought about reading but never got around to. But regardless, this time, I will finish them because with this experiment I am hoping to shine the light on the similarities in literature and the indelible power of the written word. I want to be able to illustrate no matter the story line, no matter the genre, it’s the power of the story, the characters, the words, and draw inspiration from these voices old and new, as well as hopefully, inspire others.

Here’s a look at a few of the pairings in queue:

  • Pure by Julianna Baggott & Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts & Jack Kerouc’s On the Road
  • Arise by Tara Hudson (Hereafter, book 2) & Jane Austen’s Persuasion
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn & Dante’s Inferno  

What do you think? Can you see what I’m doing with the pairings?  Have you embarked on a similar challenge? Do you want to share a suggested pairing? Let me know…I’d love to hear from you.  Until then, up first:

vs.