Thursday, May 29, 2008

Procrastinative Stack of Reading

  • Alice Munro's Friend of My Youth
  • Ron Carlson's Ron Carlson Writes a Story
  • Gregory Mcdonald's Confess, Fletch
  • Stephen King's The Colorado Kid
  • Lawrence Block's A Stab in the Dark
  • Editor Sue Grafton's Writing Mysteries
  • Lawrence Block's Burglars Can't Be Choosers
  • Elmore Leonard's Pagan Babies

Rounding out my short story reading jag was an Alice Munro book I first read 'round about 1996 or 1997. At the time I was more than a little bored by the stories. I mean, I was impressed by them. Even as a young'n, I could see it took great skill to write them. I think I missed the audaciousness, though. Munro is not always as discursive as she is in this story collection. She takes as her subject matter the creation of stories from uncertainty and rumination. I get it this time around.

That having been said, I prefer her stories with a little more dash. Like "Wild Swans," which I've been meaning to add to my "pantheon." Or this recent story, which really kicks butt. (You're welcome.)

So then I got into a mystery-reading jag. Gregory Mcdonald . . . wow. The word that comes to mind is "subtle." Subtle working out of theme. Subtle characterization. Subtle, gnomic writing. Subtle irony. Plus he manages to satisfy genre conventions without becoming predictable. And he makes it look easy. Bastard.

The Carlson and Grafton books are interesting to compare, the differing approaches made necessary by the differing reader expectations of literary short fiction vs. genre fiction. The Carlson book is way better, though, and includes a really fun little short story.

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