Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - That Was Different

What was the most unusual book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?
I once read one in a Latin American Literature class that was so weird I had to reread it three times just to understand it. Only after I realized that everyone in the book was dead, did it make a teeny bit of sense. I have long since forgotten the title, and no, I did not like it.

Years ago, I read The Novelist by Angela Hunt--an amazing read, and one of my all-time favorites! It's a story-within-a-story. (I must admit, I'm always intrigued by that. For that reason, Hamlet's play-within-a-play is one of my favorite Shakespearian plays.)

The frame story is that of a successful novelist, with a young, headstrong son, who teaches a class on writing and is confronted by one of her students who challenges her to write from her heart rather than use her standard formula. She meets the challenge by writing an allegory which is the story within. Jordan is the protagonist.
From Publishers Weekly:
As she writes, her desire to change her 21-year-old son Zachary's chaotic life as a suicidal addict becomes an impetus for a story she wants to communicate about life, loss and second chances (told alongside mother and son's actual plight). God, she believes, is the ultimate writer, complete with an outline for one's life story—yet even the characters in the hands of a novelist have choices. Jordan's reality and fiction alternate and finally converge as Hunt spins her tale, with flashbacks to Zachary's innocent childhood that are guaranteed to wring tears from even the hardest-hearted reader.
As the stories unfold, parallels are drawn between real and fantasy. The twists and turns kept me reading long past tired, watery eyes. I still reflect on it. This is one I would recommend to any reader!

Check out the BOOK GIVEAWAY on my other blog Book Critiques. I'm giving away a copy of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts.


Coloradolady said...

Man, I wish I could remember the name of a book I purchased, I got about 5 pages in, and realized there was no way I was finishing this one. Gave it to my aunt, and she did not make it past page 2. Bad. I tell you. Bad. Funny, your post made me remember that.

Angela said...

Thanks for the mention, Sally! I'm so glad that book has "stuck" with you! It meant a lot to me, and was one of the most challenging to write!


jlshall said...

The Novelist sounds like a book I should check out. I love stories within stories, too - getting two (or more!) stories for the price of one.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I've heard of The Novelist, but never knew what it was about. Sounds very interest. I think I'll look into that one. Thanks!

Karen Harrington said...

Thanks! Another one for the TBR list.

And all that candy up there is making me hungry!

Unknown said...

Sounds interesting. Another book I have recently read that was a story within a story was Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott. As someone who likes that type of novel, I'd be interested to know what you think about it. I had lukewarm feelings myself.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Bonnie said...

Great post! The book about dead people does sound like a dud! The Novelist sounds interesting, I'll have to add that to my wishlist!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, Latin American lit CAN be hard to master, can't it? Sometimes, it's like walking blindfolded through a corn maze, I swear it.

But when it's good, man, is it GOOD.

Erin said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm just finding out about these weekly prompts, which is why I posted so late. You should see more of me in the weeks ahead!

I really think I'll like reading lots of responses to the same question every week. Although, it may result in a ridiculous TBR pile!

Linda said...

I enjoy Christian fiction, but books by Dekker and Feretti are not my cup of tea.

Alea said...

Stories within stories has always been interesting to me, I believe The Blind Assassin is like that, haven't read it yet!

Stacey said...

The oddest and most stretching book I've ever read was The Time Traveler's Wife. It was a stretch because I prefer to read for pleasure. This one did not pleas was very strange with lots of foul language. It was really popular 2 or 3 years ago and was on the best seller list for awhile.