Archive for September, 2012

September 11, 2012

A Short Review of Canada, a novel by Richard Ford

The first novel I ever read on an e-reader (the Nook with a Glo-light) is Canada by Richard Ford. Here’s my review of the novel, not the e-reader.

A Short Review of Canada, a novel by Richard Ford
New York : Ecco Press, 2012

Ford forces a personality onto his main character that is as contemplative as a sixty year old. I’m not saying he’s trying to fool us with that fact, because he intentionally has the older man telling the story of his own young life as a fifteen-year-old. Ford’s prose is indeed excellent, but all through the book I craved the experience and voice of the fifteen year. So much of the story seems untold. I wanted the younger main character to have emotions and actions not explained away by his mature self of forty years later.

If an author has so pushed his own psyche so far from inner reality, how can we believe his story is true? It’s as if Ford has delivered a good idea about a story, but not the story itself. It’s a steak dinner without the meat or the sizzle, leaving us only a plate, a fork, and a knife laid out in perfect order. It is certainly an order that does not offend, but it also does not tell us the whole truth.

Are we expected to believe that his parents robbed a bank, split him from his twin sister, and sent him to Canada, and he had no anger about that? He could have become a short-fused boy like The Unibomber—or he could have become an enraged genius like Kurt Cobain—or channeled his anger like Van Gogh, perhaps. He only seems to passively accept his exile and one extremely violent act as if he was stunned silent by it. This is not the kind of character I hoped to read—it’s as if the character was there at the scene, but somehow missed the story. Readers are left with the face of the opacity of the surface of it, so we are left to admire the dinnerware and suck on an empty fork.

September 5, 2012

Kimberly Elkins’ story, “The Awful Wondering” is published.

 

I’m pleased to announce that my friend, Kimberly Elkins’ story: “The Awful Wondering” is now published in the Iowa Review. It’s not available online—you have to subscribe. But you can read some things in the issue here:
Iowa Review

Here’s her bio:
KIMBERLY ELKINS’s work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Best New American Voices, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. A finalist for the National Magazine Award, she received a fellowship from the Houghton Library at Harvard for research on her novel, What Is Visible, forthcoming from Grand Central. A visiting lecturer for the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Hong Kong, she has an MFA from BU and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

September 1, 2012

Query Letter for Tardy Son, a novel

In TARDY SON, Pid, a fourteen-year-old boy, torn from his Mexican roots and adopted into a white California family, stows away in a boxcar hoping to get to San Francisco. He’s desperate to escape his adoptive father, Danno, and to find his real mother. The abuse from Danno alienates Pid’s mind into two personalities. Pid’s copy of Treasure Island, his journal writing, and his sense of adventure help him escape. Pid doesn’t find his real mother in San Francisco but he does find Japanese and African boys who accept his baseball playing despite his limp and a Mexican woman who loves him like a mother. This gives him a sense of himself enough to reunite his personality, though he is still angry at Danno. This anger brings Pid to steal a motor scooter and return to his hometown to face Danno again. Pid vows to kill him, though he risks arrest and injury. A bloody fight occurs and in the battle he discovers why the lies of Danno hide the truth in the mystery of his heritage. Finally, he must choose whether to stay or return to San Francisco.

TARDY SON, is a semi-finalist for the Faulkner Novel-in-Progress Award. It’s a 76,000-word literary YA novel.

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