the other end of the pen

Behind the stories in The Fraser Canyon Express

Ruminations of a Reader

I consume books. I read voraciously and often have two or three books on the go at any one time. I believe that in order to be a good writer, one must be a reader. I am not fussy; I’ll read anything as long as it is good. I’ll read historical romance, murder mystery, horror and even science fiction (not so much Ray Bradbury’s rockets and robots, but stuff about elves and fairies and dwarves). Terry Brooks’ “Sword of Shannara” series was one of my favourites, I think it was even better than “The Hobbit”.
I read Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth” when I was just a child of 8. I then read anything I could find about China and Japan, basically anything with “Imperial” in the title. I remember reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” out loud to my big brother as a bedtime story. I remember the house we lived in at the time and so I must have been about 9 and my brother was 11. I discovered John Steinbeck when I was in my early teens and raced through “Of Mice and Men”, “Grapes Of Wrath” and “Cannery Row” in a single school year. If I stop and think about it for minute, I can still feel what I felt when I first read “Cannery Row”, the joy in the simple things in life, the aching loss of a friend. I was very young when I read it. I should read it again and see if it’s different now.
In fact I did just that last year, I made a committment to re-read some of the old novels I had enjoyed as a child and see if the stories were as I remembered. I re-read “Anne of Green Gables” again- I still chuckled at the dead mouse in the clotted cream but mostly I just remembered how much I enjoyed the story the first time around, in a way I was little Crystal again.
By the same token, I also re-read “Hamlet”, “The Outsiders” and “The Lord of The Flies”. Wow, what a difference a few years make! The stories were the same of course, but I saw so much that I had missed the first time I read them.
I recently joined the adult bookclub in town here and the book we chose was Amy Tan’s “Saving Fish From Drowning”. It wasn’t a book I would have chosen for myself but I just finished it and I really enjoyed it. I was worried that the group would choose a Maeve Benchey novel. I never could get into one of her books, Lord knows I tried after hearing so many people rave about her. Amy Tan is an excellent writer. The premise of the novel is pretty unique and I guess, for me, a little hard to get my head around; the story is being told by a dead Chinese woman named Bibi. Bibi arranges a tour through Burma for a group of friends but dies before the trip is planned to leave. The tour goes on (seemingly) without her, but her spirit travels alongside and narrates the events as they unfold. There were a few times I laughed out loud and a few times I burst out with an appalled “Oh, no!” The book was definitely worth the investment of the six or seven hours I took to read it. I do prefer something a little more juicy, though, perhaps some intrigue, or action or sex.


1 Comment»

  crystalk wrote @

“OMAMORI” (not “OH MAMMARY” as my son called it)

I just read another book about Japan, It was amazing! It looks at first glance like a trashy romance but it simply is not what it looks like. The title is “Omamori” by Richard McGill. It begins a little slowly outlining the history of a Japanese/American silk dynasty. The novel tackles such issues an inter-racial love relationships in the 1930’s Japan. The story takes us up close to WW2 and puts a face to nazi Germany,the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The story deals with love lost and found again, love lost forever, the frustrations and heartbreak of war. I loved the novel. It has some meat to it, which means it took me about a week of dedicated bedtime reading. The conclusion kept me up all night, seriously, I just could not put it down.

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