I saw MWT speak at the LA Times Book Festival and she said her inspiration to write this book was the idea of a group of travelers, one of whom was unI saw MWT speak at the LA Times Book Festival and she said her inspiration to write this book was the idea of a group of travelers, one of whom was underestimated not just by the rest of the group, but by the reader. She says she writes all her books not as a mystery that can be solved by a clever reader, but as a story with many layers which reveals a second way of seeing the whole story (a back-formation) at the end, when you are presented with new information. The Sixth Sense is a good example of a story like that.
I would like to read this!
I read it! I loved it!
She's a great storyteller.* Right from the beginning you're pulled into the narrator's world. The characters are wonderfully clear. The Magus is clever, knowledgeable and ruthless. The soldier is taciturn, practical and stern. The younger and the older apprentice begin as just young boy and younger boy and then begin to differentiate themselves as the story moves along.
The main character, Gen, has a blend of youthfulness and experience that, together, are compelling - Gen can read people, and he can get into places and out of places quickly, and he can find things. But he speaks like a commoner, and he is quickly put in his place if he tries to answer when the Magus quizzes the apprentices. He can't ride a horse to save his life and he is slight and weakened from time in prison. A master thief - it is a contradiction - to be a master at something that is considered demeaning to do means your skill is also your downfall.
Turner creates a whole mythology, though, where the thief is a kind of trickster god, like Loki, that is revered for the role he plays in the universe, helping to balance things. Robin Hood wishes he'd had Turner to write his story - he'd have been not just a hero, but a deity.
I'm really looking forward to reading more of her books, but I think I want to let this one sink in a little, first. It's shame when I rush all the way through something and hardly get to savor it.
The reversal of fortune is delightful and I want to let it reverberate a little in my heart before I get another dose. Are all stories about a reversal of fortune?
*I've been trying to put down in words what this means or how this works...a good writer can convey their vision with words, communicate ideas, put the subtle shade of a color or the nuance of a casual conversation into print. But a good writer can be conveying a great deal without giving it meaning. What a good storyteller does is convey with great assurance and economy the information necessary to build meaning. The Bible is a good example of storytelling skill - in two pages it tells the remarkably compelling story of God, Adam, Eve and the serpent. A good storyteller can tell you the ending of the story - I'm going to tell you how I got this scar - and then tell it. You know the ending - and immediately after it starts you know the beginning - but you want to hear the story even more because you know only someone with a good story gives away the ending....more
Clever, playful series with a distinct narrative voice - a self-conscious style of storytelling that's humorous but also aware that children are tunedClever, playful series with a distinct narrative voice - a self-conscious style of storytelling that's humorous but also aware that children are tuned in to the darkness in life - maybe more than adults realize....more
This sounds awesome! I love hearing author's describe the spark for their book. If you are trying to write a query letter, you should use that as a teThis sounds awesome! I love hearing author's describe the spark for their book. If you are trying to write a query letter, you should use that as a technique. His spark - he wanted to write about cool, clever, powerful wizards - like in Harry Potter, only evil. And the hero? A slave, a trickster, a genie. Another tidbit from when he spoke today? He wrote the sarcastic, mischievous character of Bart and put a lot of himself into him - only to have his mother read the book and compare him to an uptight, prissy character called Nicholas. The perils of the writing life....more
This turned out to be my perfect fluff book for the summer. Just the right dose of Jane Austen references, silliness, romance and plausible deniabilitThis turned out to be my perfect fluff book for the summer. Just the right dose of Jane Austen references, silliness, romance and plausible deniability that the ending would all come out okay. This is something I think many people don't understand about the chick-lit obsession...you have to be able to pretend that everything might not all come out okay in order to really get the full rush of the happy ending. When the obstacles to happiness aren't plausible enough or they don't seem like real obstacles, the pay-off is no pay-off at all. The only way this book could have been better would have been if it were a different book...which is to say, it was as good as a playful chick-lit novel can be without trying to be Literature. Which is as it should be, because being on vacation means I don't have to read Literature all the time....more
I found myself marveling at how I could read a whole chapter and it felt like a single sentence. Or at least a single thought. Lahiri's prose is seamlI found myself marveling at how I could read a whole chapter and it felt like a single sentence. Or at least a single thought. Lahiri's prose is seamless, like thought, and full of the details of life and moves smoothly from past to present and from everyday minutia to over-arching themes. I was very attached to the title character, Gogol. I really felt I was seeing the world through his eyes and the eyes of his mother, Ashima. (Ashima is an immigrant and Gogol, the namesake, is American). Most of the book is set in areas in and outside of Boston that I can picture vividly, so that made it even more powerful for me. The landscape of his suburban youth is so familiar I felt like I was reading about a family that lived down the street, but about whom I could have known next to nothing growing up. In the end, although I was totally caught up by the book for a month, anxious to read it every night, staying up late sometimes to finish a chapter, I didn't get that feeling I sometimes get from a book that is just cathartic or that wholly pleasurable sense of losing myself in another world. It might be because I am so similar to the somewhat inconsiderate and uncomprehending kids that Gogol grows up with that, even as I identified with the main character, I wanted to apologize to him. I'd say: Sorry if I stared at your mother's sari in the supermarket, if I mispronounced your name, if I don't know what it meant to be Bengali. Or maybe it's just because it's a little bit of a sad, lost ending, neither tragic nor triumphant. In either case, it is a wonderful book, and one which I highly recommend. ...more