As a writer I always read critically, on numerous levels simultaneously, and at least one of my roaming critical eyes is always turned back upon myself—and my own work, and what I might or might not be able to achieve—in comparison to what I happen to be reading at the time. This happens every time I pick up a book, but it isn’t the only thing that happens. And I only mention it now because some writing is so impressive upon first contact with it that the writer in me feelsSEE DETAILS
Many books are easily forgotten whereas some sear the impression of their words and the stories they relate deep into the folds of your memory. That memory may be short or long after the reading of these latter books, but those books will never be forgotten.
John Smelcer’s The Trap tells the story of an entire people through the alternating points of view of two men, Albert Least-Weasel and his teenage grandson, Johnny Least-Weasel. Heightening this sense—and intention, no doubt—of a story striving to transcend the details of its own plot and convert itself into the larger and more encompassing story of a steadily vanishing way of life in a part of the country—the Alaskan Artic Circle—where Nature remains the primary force to be reckoned with are the almost didactic asides in the voice of the single omniscient narrator.
Life outside of the United States is not, as I fear many Americans imagine, life in a cheaper and poorer and less efficient version of the United States. As Ryszard Kapuściński notes in The Shadow and the Sun the white man is a “sort of outlandish and unseemly intruder” in Africa. “He is ever afraid: of mosquitoes, amoebas, scorpions, snakes—everything that moves fills him with fear, terror, panic.”
If I owe being a writer to anyone it must be my mom. She was the one who first fed my passion by passing onto me the books that she was reading with her book club. I’ve always remembered myself as being twelve when I started enjoying reading. But the three novels that I remember as my introduction to the world of fiction, independent of the required ‘classics’ we had to read at school, were all published in 1976. I would soon discover Hemmingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner, in another household, andSEE DETAILS