There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed — Ernest Hemingway


Today's Shelf

Today’s Shelf

I was introduced to good literature by a good friend — Deb.

She suggested Ivan Doig, and Dancing at the Rascal Fair in 1989.  Three years later, English Literature classes at Peninsula College opened the world of writing, books, and appreciation for the craft.  As well, Peninsula College developed in me a respect for science and the scientific method.

My English professor — Grace, introduced me first, to Willa Cather — an author quite capable of bringing the landscape into a story.  The west without landscape is just another narrative with dialogue.  By chance, then, I spent a week with a small assembly of literature professors in Quebec City, Quebec.  They came from all over the world and spent a week, each year, travelling to and conferring in areas influential to Cather’s work.  We spent two days on Grand Manan Island off the coast of Maine where Cather once lived in a small coastal cabin.  Impressive how such a gathering of intelligent literary minds devoted themselves to something I considered just another good book.

After digesting all Cather’s works, I moved on to include reading all of Hemingway, Wallace Stegner, and William Faulkner.  Following those, I included Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, John Updike, N. Scott Momaday,  and E.B. White.

Today, I actively follow authors Sherman Alexie, Ivan Doig, Richard Russo, Louise Erdrich, Jim Harrison, Suzanne Collins, Ken Follett, Justin Cronin, and Gillian Flynn.  My favorite new author discoveries include Kevin Powers, Ben Fountain, Jesmyn Ward, Gregory Maguire, and Kate Morton.  A Good Read is one balancing character development, prose, diction, pace and cadence.  A fast-paced novel suffers if it ignores decent character development, or poorly composed.

Non-fiction offers me little, but fiction takes me elsewhere — places, minds, emotions, feeling.  I tend to enjoy stories with a fine balance of narrative and dialogue, in first person.  I prefer hard cover books with larger print.  Too, I’m trying a new e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite.  It’s not the same as curling up with a good paper book, but I think it’ll catch on.

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