Joanne Harris knows a thing or two about writing, as a world renown author and the Chair of the Society of Authors. I was delighted to discover her book about writing. I love it when people are generous in sharing their knowledge.
The book will take you into the insights of the writing process from start to the publication and beyond. It will unveil the secrets of what makes a story, characterisation and detailing. And it is all written with honesty and no-non-sense. Joanne is incredibly encouraging towards aspiring writers: “Remember, … , that just writing is an act of bravery. You have the courage to do what it takes to give your voice the chance to be heard. Don’t do it because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Maya Angelou, or Margaret Atwood. Those are already taken. Do it because your voice is unique. Only you can take this chance. No one else will ever be you, or tell your story the way you can”.
After this book, I also realized that I am more demanding as a reader. Joanne is right. If after 10 pages I am not fully absorbed by the story or if the author states the obvious (“the rain is wet” ), I will close the book and look for something else to read.
I am usually not a big fan of short stories. Yet, “A thousand years of good prayers” made me adore each story on their own unique merits.
The love story of Granny Lin in « Extra », the prison of shame in « After a life », the vulnerability to time of cultural figures in “Immortality”, the nobleness of keeping a promise in “Love in the Marketplace”, breaking away from the traditions in “Son”, emotional barriers to communication in “A thousands years of good prayers” are some of the themes we’ll find in the collection along with mythology and storytelling for a great authenticity of Chinese characters. In sum, such an exquisite mastery of the plots makes each story a fully fledged novel.
The interview with Yiyun Li included in this edition offers numerous insights and provides a glimpse into how she writes in her unique way. Highly recommended.
Yet another wonderful piece from the author of “Chocolat“. I enjoyed reading both. Harris’ pen manages to touch my inner chords by her distinguished touch to all that makes us human: our fears, our hopes, our pain, our aspirations. Her characters feel alive. And the scenery is vivid as we glance through the pages of the book, even on a Kindle. I could easily relate to the characters of this novel, especially Boise (i.e. Framboise).
The story, told by Boise, develops on a small farm run by a widow battling mental health issues, while raising her three children, against the WWII background in rural France. I loved that Harris chose to narrate events through the eyes of a nine year old. War, violence, relationships, food, housework – they all look different to children and adults need to learn to respect that. The story line is on rewind and forward, from Boise’s childhood to her adulthood, to remind us not to judge by appearances, as we never fully know what others went through.
That was a fun reading. Light and thoughtful, loving and self-ironic. An introspective and retrospective view into inter and intra-generational relationships. An ode to youthful playful souls even when the replaced knees and pacemakers demand otherwise.
“What I loved” is a work of fiction rooted in research on human behaviour in a variety of disciplines. Leo, the narrator and one of main characters, tells us the story of his family and his closest friend’s family in the decor of the art world of New York.
The human tragedies entangle in seemingly distinct yet interconnected stories. Female and male friendships, the integrity of art dealerships and the father-son relationship will touch any reader’s mind in a sophisticated way, infused with the sadness of human failure to love one another.
Did you ever hear about “wakaresaseya”? It is a business in Japan which delivers broken marriages and divorces through agents who play the lover to elicit “evidence” of adultery. In short, they are breaker-uppers. People with pecuniary interests and/or desire to keep the child often make recourse to such services. This novel is inspired by a real murder trial in Tokyo in 2010.
« What’s left of me is yours » is a story told through the eyes of a child caught in the middle of this adults’ game. It is also a story of a woman who was pulled in the game by her bitter and broken husband. It is the story of the agent who fell in love with his target and their mutual love. It is the story of a man who had to become a father again when his grandchild lost her mother in this cruel manipulation. It is a story of choices between getting stuck in revenge and building a future, hide away or embrace humanity.
I loved Scott’s beautiful writing style. It made me witness events, feel the emotions of characters, smell the ocean and hear the sounds of places where it took me.
This is one of the books I find to be appealing to different audiences in the same clear and friendly language. If you are looking for advice on your online and social media presence, this is the book. Equally, if you work in a more and more virtual working environment, this is the book.
I wrote about my take aways for the working environment on myprojectdelight.com. Here are my take aways for the online social media presence.
“Writing is hard; few of us do it well.” Our modern world requires all of us to become writers.
“Good writing also has authenticity, consistency, transparency, empathy, and connection.”
“In the virtual world, good storytelling is even more important”. Learn from the best and do not frown at hashtags. The shortest story ever belongs to Hemingway. His bet started inadvertently a flash-fiction game that has gone on to this day: six-word stories.
I found an abundance of great advice and tools here: empathy quiz, advice on basic online hygienic package, how to create and manage your online persona, and where to get started, etc.
And a call for action: “We need to reclaim our lost humanity on the web. We need to restore the emotions that all too many of the digital conveniences of the modern world have silently and unthinkingly taken away.”