Friday, November 12, 2010

Tales Untold

As you know, everyone has a story.  Whether it's interesting or not is another thing.  But bottom line, everyone has a story.

Some stories are sad.  Some are joyful.  Some make you pause.  Some make you appreciate the life you've had or wish you'd made some different choices or been born into a different time, place, or family.  Some stories do all of those things.

I think that's part of why I love books so much.  I love people's stories too, but people are much less likely to just lay it all out there in black and white and tell you their story.  There are always parts omitted because they don't think that bit is important or because they're embarrassed or they simply forgot.  With books, it is the author's job to make sure every little important detail is included (if the details are omitted, it's probably not a very good book.  And authors can't allow their characters to be embarrassed by their stories - if the character is not willing to share, it's simply not a part of the story.  And of course, authors can't forget details!  They've never get published if they skipped whole parts of the story.

This month is National Novel Writing Month and everywhere I look, someone is trying to write some sort of story.  Those of you who get through it will probably have a product that might some day be worth reading with a lot of editing.  Not that that's a bad thing!  I used to write and I've pretty much given it up.  Apparently my characters are too embarrassed to tell their tales.  But unless you can get it just write, you're going to have a hard time satisfying both yourself and your readers.

Of course there are hundreds of books published every year by authors that simply just missed the point, so really this rambling is going no where.


I just finished a book that was a fabulous story.  The Thirteenth Tale is about an elderly reclusive author who decides to finally tell her story to a little known biographer.  The biographer is no professional but, due to some interesting circumstances, is able to treat the story with such tenderness that the sheer ridiculousness of it doesn't phase her at all.  The author of The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield, did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of each of her characters and the story within a story within a book is so richly woven that I found myself complete engrossed.  Miss Winter, the elderly author, has a story that simply doesn't seem plausible - wealth, incest, twins, mysterious deaths, and on and on and on - but somehow in the end it comes together and you're left puzzling over how you didn't see it before.  And the narrator, the biographer, has a nasty mess of a life herself that you are easily drawn into.

Clearly, I found this a wonderful read... Highly recommended.  And it's a great book club book for all my lady friends out there.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for a day on the beach but for snuggled up next to the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa, it couldn't be more perfect.

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