Monday, December 8, 2008

Hello again

I've let this blog languish for more than another year, while I worked on a novel. That novel is with an editor at the moment, so while I wait for some kind of response, I thought I'd check back in.

I'm blogging also at WinedalePorchscape, but that's a general blog with photographs.

A couple of quick notes on books:

Cost, by Roxana Robinson -- I found this novel riveting and heartbreaking. She goes into the hearts and minds of each member of a family as they react to the news that one of their members is hooked on heroin.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (All first-timers should have such success.)-- This is a remarkable first novel, and one of the new crop that gives dogs a prominent role. There seems to be a trend in American letters toward narrators/protagonists who don't or can't speak, human and canine. In this one, the boy is mute for reasons no one can discern.

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein -- And this is actually narrated by the dog, Enzo, a character I loved. He can't speak, but he is certainly voluble on the printed page. Frankly, this isn't nearly as well written as the other three, but if you love dogs...

Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill -- This book has been receiving excellent reviews, but I didn't really engage on an emotional level.

Only one of this quartet of worthy or diverting books has protagonists born outside the US. Most fiction lately seems to feature foreign locations, or subject, or characters--reflecting our increasing interest in global cultures, and increasing recognition of how much we are connected to them. I think these books are a little like sag paneer (spinach in cream): very good for you, no doubt, and delicious once in a while, but a little goes a long way.

What has happened to the gonzo novelists? (Other than the fact they've mostly died.) What has happened to existential dread as a subject? Do we all keep ourselves so busy now that we've stopped caring?