18 Mar The Beauty Of Being Subtle
Here we are despite the mayhem that is everywhere. I’m not adding to it, I’m just here to talk books.
I hope all of you bookworms are doing well. If you are quarantined at home I’m a bit jealous only because I’m not. If I was I’d be reading all day long.
Several years ago the area I live in experienced a horrible ice storm. I didn’t leave my home for 17 days and it was magnificent. My family and I were lucky enough to have electricity, when many did not, so we weren’t exactly roughing it. I’m just mentioning this because I don’t get cabin fever, I’m a true introvert. Although we weren’t quarantined during that storm, the roads were a mess along with many other things, so it truly was safer to stay at home.
So—whatever the reason may be, in the event I am quarantined,
There will be reading—LOTS of reading!
I’ll recap my weekend in books for you:
Friday night was book club. Ten of us met at a local spot to eat and discuss:
While it was a page-turner and an easy read, the general consensus of this book left us asking, “Why?”
Sure, there was massive disfunction and narcissism, but was it really that interesting of a story?
None of us thought so.
I really don’t want to dedicate more writing space to this book, so if you are considering reading it, I’d pass. I gave it ⭐️⭐️.
About a week or so ago I began reading another book, which I briefly set aside to finish Wild Game. I picked up reading it again Saturday morning. The book is titled, What I Loved, by Siri Hustvedt. If you aren’t familiar with Hustvedt, you may have heard of her husband, Paul Auster. Some of his more popular books are, The New York Triliogy, The City of Glass, Leviathan, and several others.
As I read WIL, it only gets better. I don’t mean that it starts off bad, but rather that it is a slow build that just keeps building—in the right direction. WIL is a contemporary domestic drama, which is probably at the top of favorite list, genre wise. Between the slow build and the domestic drama, I am really loving it.
Sometimes a slow build can come across as just slow, but to me, it’s laying the foundation for the book as a whole. It isn’t in a rush to throw out a half-developed plot or underdeveloped characters. There’s also a difference between a slow build and long-winded. The first is making progress, the latter is all but stagnant.
Other than talking about or reviewing books, because this is a book blog, there is another reason this book in particular stood out/is standing out to me. Do you ever, during the course of reading a book (a physical copy) flip over to the back or to the dust jacket and read the synopsis again? Near the end of the synopsis there was a particular sentence that provided a bit of an “Ah-ha” moment.
The line which stood out to me is near the bottom of the top paragraph, “Combining the intimacy of a family saga with the suspense of a thriller…”
That line wasn’t one I had paid much attention to or even noticed initially. When it caught my eye this time, the reason it did is because I have thinking about the thriller genre lately and couldn’t put my finger on what was bugging me about them (not all of them, but most).
I wouldn’t necessarily expect suspense to be a part of a family saga, but the fact is daily life is suspenseful in many ways, it’s just often a bit more subtle in nature. Novels that proclaim to be thrillers are often “in your face” about it. Maybe from page one or at least the first few pages, a thriller’s purpose is to grab you and continue to do so throughout the novel. More times than not, when I read thrillers I am let down at least midway though and definitely by the end. It leaves me in a state of constant expecting. That imposed or implied thriller quality stays at the forefront of my mind and it just doesn’t end up delivering to the level I was expecting.
So back to the blurb on the back of WIL, reading there is a suspense quality is quite wonderful. It’s not screaming it from the roof tops, it’s simply suggesting it’s presence. Subtlety is a wonderful thing, it’s elusive quality is probably what I love most. A hint of something to come is much better than largely expressing something. Also, a hint can be taken many ways and still hold truth, whereas explicitly stating there’s “a twist you never saw coming,” or some other equally blunt phrase holds much potential to fail in my eyes.
So that’s it. I like mystery when it’s all but unrecognizable upon first glance.
📌 Note to books: don’t loudly share there are secrets to come, don’t over promise and under deliver. Your readers will thank you.
“The man was heavy with life. So often it’s lightness that we admire. Those people who appear weightless and unburdened, who hover instead of walk, attract us with their defiance of ordinary gravity. Their carelessness mimics happiness, but Bill had none of that.” —Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
“The recollections of an older man are different from those of a younger man. What seemed vital at forty may lose its significance at seventy. We manufacture stories, after all, from the fleeting sensory material that bombards us at every instant, a fragmented series of pictures, conversations, odors, and the touch of things and people. We delete most of it to live with some semblance of order, and the reshuffling of memory goes on until we die.” —Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved