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