Friday, November 30, 2007

Tidbits and Big Novels.

Some link love first:

Remember how I came up with the brilliant idea of taking E-Ink to color? Well, evidently others have not only thought of it before me, but they’ve already invented the technology. Go figure. And it’s even capable of making a reader one could roll up and bend!

The Good Girls are having another party, this Friday with Peter Stothard of the Times Literary Supplement. Yeah, I’m an idiot because I didn’t know what that was. Now I do. And it is really cool.

Peter Stothard also keeps a lively blog. He seems really cool, too.

Onward, upward.

Last night I finished John Irving’s A Widow for One Year. Best ending I’ve ever read, I’m pretty sure. Best last line in recent memory. Last lines drive me nuts. His is not good as a standalone, but as the end of the novel? It kicks ass.

And because it’s about a writer, it’s got some great quotes:

  • "...hers were the tears a writer cried whenever a writer heard something better than anything he or she could have written." (Which is how I felt upon reading the ending of A Widow for One Year. I did cry, but I also threw a temper tantrum at myself.)
  • "My novels aren’t ideas--I don’t have any ideas," Ruth replied. "I begin with the characters, which leads me to the problems that the characters are prone to have, which yields a story--every time."
  • (About brainstorming and daydreaming up a new novel.) "In a way, I like this phase of a novel better than the writing of it. In the beginning, there are so many possibilities. With each detail you choose, with every word you commit yourself to, your options close down."
  • "A novel is always more complicated than it seems at the beginning. Indeed, a novel should be more complicated than it seems at the beginning."
  • "’No one knows what they [semicolons] are anymore,’ he says. ’If you’re not in the habit of reading nineteenth-century novels, you think that the author has killed fruit fly directly above a comma--semicolons have become nothing but a distraction.’"
  • "What did it matter if a detail was real or imagined? What mattered was that the detail seemed real, and that it was absolutely the best detail for the circumstances."
  • "What writer wouldn’t want to have his or her own housewife?" (Amen to that!)

Lastly, I’m starting a Dickens novel tomorrow. But which one? I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to squeeze in more than one Dickens, because there are so many new books I haven’t read, beckoning to me. So which Dickens would you vote for? Do you have a favorite?

12 bonus scribbles:

Bailey Stewart 11/30/2007 07:18:00 PM  

"My novels aren’t ideas--I don’t have any ideas," Ruth replied. "I begin with the characters, which leads me to the problems that the characters are prone to have, which yields a story--every time."

That's me!

Well, considering the season, I'd read A Christmas Carol. But then, I'm a bit nuts about Christmas.

Liz Wolfe 11/30/2007 07:45:00 PM  

I think I do it the other way. I have the premise, then the characters come. But once the characters introduce themselves, the rest of the story is dictated by them. I think.
I hear you on the housewife thing though. Seriously.

Carrie Lofty 11/30/2007 09:17:00 PM  

I adore A Tale of Two Cities. I suppose if you're gonna go for a classic, go for a classic classic!

Michelle 12/01/2007 01:30:00 AM  

I love Great Expectations :) . I read A Widow for One Year ages ago, but I still think about it now and then. It is a great book.

Erica Orloff 12/01/2007 08:30:00 AM  

Dickens . . . I'd go for David Copperfield--I guess because I read it in 3rd grade (believe me, it took a while) and it's a childhood one I remember (though now when I look at it, I can't believe I read it then since it's not easy reading). I also love Great Expecatations . . . and A Tale of Two Cities.


Edie 12/01/2007 10:28:00 AM  

A Widow for One Year is not a book I would normally read, but now I have to read it. It's hard to believe a man said that housewife line. He must have heard that from his women writer friends.

Good luck with Dickens!

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:35:00 AM  

That's cool, Bailey! I usually start with a girl with a problem. A Christmas Carol is tempting. In fact, I might just listen to that one in the car with DH. Then I can read two Dickens!

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:37:00 AM  

Liz, I've done that once in awhile. I really don't feel a difference. No matter which end you start with, you just kinda grow it from there.

I'm with Irving on a housewife, too.

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:37:00 AM  

Good idea, Carrie! I remember reading that, in that I remember holding the book, but that's about all I remember, except for that first line!

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:38:00 AM  

Michelle, I loved Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. Poor orphans and such were just the sort that I felt I could related to, LOL.

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:39:00 AM  

Erica, I hear you about the difficulty! I definitely feel dumber. I don't think I read David Copperfield, so I should put that at the top of my list.

spyscribbler 12/01/2007 10:41:00 AM  

Oh, Edie, it gets a better. A man wrote that line, but a female character said that line! I think, to a certain extent, I'm sorta blessed with a househusband. I really don't see how I could write without him.