Archive for September, 2006

A Moment of Silence…

Posted: September 29, 2006 in White Sox

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Okay, okay, I can hear all the Cubs fans out there crowing in glee… And, yes, I’ll admit I’ve done my share of bleating like a happy goat when assorted bad things have happened to the Cubs, too. Not too adult of me, I’ll admit it, but after having lived in the Chicago metro area for longer than I’ve lived other places combined I’ve learned the fine art of supporting your team. As we all know, you CAN’T support both the Cubs and the Sox… It’s simply not done.

But now it’s time to admit my Chicago White Sox are… are… not in the playoffs this year. There, I said it. Very painful, but we did have last year, after all. And it was FAB-U-LOUS!

No big celebrations this year, but what’s worst of all is it’s nearly the end of baseball season. How did THAT happen? This is one thing both Cubs and Sox fans can agree on, that it’s all coming to an end all too soon.

But, for now, a few images of what made last year so exceptional:

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And one thing that made last year just a bit weird:manllickingtrophy.jpg

Yes, this man is licking the White Sox World Series trophy. I can’t explain it. I just report it.

Ah, well, so much for 2006. The good news is opening day 2007 will be a short 5 or 6 months away.

In Memorium, 2006

White Sox! White Sox! Gooooooo White Sox!

Let’s go go go White Sox
We’re with you all the way
You’re always in there fighting and you do your best
We’re glad to have you out here in the middle west

We’re gonna root root root root White Sox
And cheer you on to victory
When we’re in the stands we’ll make those rafters ring
All through the season you’ll hear us sing

Let’s go go go White Sox
Chicago’s proud of you

Root root root root for the White Sox
We’ll cheer you on the victory
When we’re in the stands we’ll make those rafters ring
All through the season you’ll hear us sing

Let’s go go go White Sox
Chicago’s proud of you

Let’s go go go White Sox
Chicago is proud of you

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P.S.: We’ll get ’em next year…

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Have you ever thought about why the great writers are so great? I mean really thought about it, as in sat down and examined their work, pulling it apart bit by bit to see what they did and how they did it? It can be very enlightening.

Sound too much like a literature class to you? Well, maybe, but the good thing is when you’re deconstructing for your own edification there are no tests (unless you count the test as to whether or not you’re accepted for publication, if that’s your goal. okay, that’s sort of a test…)

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This is the theme of Francine Prose’s latest book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them. Prose urges the thoughtful reader to keep a shelf of the “heavies” beside her desk, so that when she feels either too confident or too awkward in her own writing she can pull one down, flip to a random passage, and see how the truly great really do write. Then she can have a quick comparison to her own writing, likely wail and gnash her teeth briefly, but then plunge into things with a renewed gusto.

There truly is a method to the madness of great writers, and to some extent it can be learned, or at the very least imitated. Modeling yourself after authors you admire is never a bad idea. You can’t copy or duplicate them, but you can use them as a scale to measure your own success.

Take any random paragraph from a work by a great author, say, this paragraph I flipped to in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying:

“We hold to the rope, the current curling and dimpling about our shoulders. But beneath that false blandness the true force of it leans against us lazily. I had not thought that water in July could be so cold. It is like hands moulding and prodding at the very bones…”

Curling and dimpling… Would I have thought to use those descriptives for water? No way! But it works, doesn’t it? It all works. In this one random paragraph the writing is lush and perfect.

How depressing, in a way, but how uplifting, in another. Look what you can do, what conventions you are free to shatter. If it sounds outrageous never mind, just put it out there in a draft. Then come back to it later and see what you think of it after having it rest a while. It’s like baking bread, really. You let the yeast rise, come back and punch it down, then let it rise again. Hopefully then you’ll be able to bake that idea at that point. Maybe not, maybe an extra punching down will be required, but that’s progress, right?

That’s the spirit. Heigh ho, etc.

Prose’s book is one I’ll most likely dip into at intervals. I don’t see myself reading it cover to cover immediately. For one thing, it does spoil the content of several short stories I haven’t read yet. I had Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” completely spoiled for me, plot-wise, and I’m a bit miffed about that. I’ll forgive her, mostly because I should have already read this one and I’m ashamed I haven’t, being Ms. Southern Literature Fan. But still, be warned, you may inadvertantly read a few plot spoilers along the way.

Check this one out if you have any desire at all to figure out why the greats are great. It’s very illuminating stuff, whether you’re a reader who admires writers or a writer yourself. At the least it will give you renewed respect for the craft (and sweat) behind perfect sentences, and remind you why the greats really are so great.

An Interview With Rhys Bowen

Posted: September 26, 2006 in Author Interview

Rhys Bowen is the author of both the Molly Murphy and Evan Evans mystery series. Ms. Bowen is going to be making several appearances in the area starting within the next few days (schedule below), and she has graciously consented to answer a few interview questions:

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1. How is the experience of writing series fiction different from writing stand-alone books? Would you have any advice for novice writers on writing series fiction?

One of the advantages of writing a series is that you come to know the characters very well. It’s like an ongoing friendship in which they gradually strip away the layers and reveal more and more of themselves. So the books become deeper and meatier for that reason alone. Also I begin every book knowing a lot about the setting, the subsidiary characters as well as my sleuth.

A disadvantage is that you are bound by that location and those people. Some crimes would never happen there–as in my small corner of Wales. And the next book is due at a set time each year, which gives the author no freedom to tackle brilliant new ideas and try other directions.

Advice for a novice: don’t hold back, just because you think you’ll be writing a series. Make the first book the very best it can be, as if it was a stand-alone. No sense in keeping some good stuff for later books. If the first books are good, the good stuff will keep coming. It’s essential you’ve chosen a main character you like and believe in. You’re going to be hanging out with him or her for a long time. So don’t give him or her any querky attributes you might come to regret (make her a llama breeder and you’ll find yourself deeply in the world of llamas forever more)

2. What is it about turn of the century New York that intrigues you, and makes a good backdrop for your Molly Murphy series?

My driving force in this series was to write about Ellis Island. I was so moved by my first visit there that I knew I had to write about it. When Molly stepped ashore in New York I realized what a mammoth task I had set myself. So much reseach required! But New York is a great place to set a series. Various ethnic groups, the contrast of rich and poor and the great vibrancy of life there make for endless exciting stories. I try to feature one aspect of turn of the century life in each of the books–the sweat shops of the garment industry, the anarchists, spiritualists,the theater–I won’t run out of ideas in a hurry!

3. How is it different writing about small town Wales in your Evan Evans series?

Obviously my two series are very different from each other. The Constable Evans books have a male protagonist, which means I have to get inside the head of a man to make them ring true. And the setting plays a big part in the stories–several of the crimes have involved the rugged mountain terrain, and the small town interactions give the stories the warmth and humor and reality they need. I have to make sure I go back to Wales every year to check on things.

4. What projects are you working on currently?

I have just finished the sixth Molly book, in which Molly is sent back to Ireland–taking a big risk in doing so. It’s called in Dublin’s Fair city. And I have a new series making its debut next summer. It’s very different–funny, witty, sexy–about a minor royal in the 1930s. Lots of fun stuff about British upper class life at that time. The first book will be called Her Royal Spyness.

5. What are you reading lately? Is there anything you’ve been reading that has impressed you?

I’m currently a judge for the Edgars so I’ve been reading like crazy everything that is sent to me in my category–not all books I would have chosen to read! I’m looking forward to some down time when I can do some pleasure reading again!

6. Do you practice any writing rituals?

Rituals–like sharpening three pencils before I start? Sorry, but if you’re a professional writer, you pretty much have a 9-5 job like any other. I go down to my computer early each morning, read my emails and then write until I can’t write any more that day. I make myself do at least 5 pages. then the next day I edit those before going on. I go all the way through a first draft before I give the ms to other people to read and then do a second draft.

7. Aside from writing and reading, what do you feel passionately about?

The environment. I’m a hiker and an outdoor person. I’ve seen the glaciers retreating in Alaska. I also feel passionately about government waste and mismanagement, but don’t get me started on that one!

8. Do you have a favorite quotation, or perhaps just a few words, that sum up your philosophy on life?

Life is beautiful, enjoy it. The journey is the destination.

9. If you were marooned on an island, stuck in an elevator or otherwise cut off from society, what one book would you want to have with you?

I’ve been asked this before and it’s very hard. Obviously the Bible might be the best for a desert island as it has words of hope and comfort in it and would take so long to read from cover to cover (think of all those
begats….) Walt Whitman’s poetry really speaks to my soul, so I might take that.

10. What childhood memories do you have regarding public libraries? Did they play a role at all in your love of books and reading?

I can remember when I was given my own library card and, about the age of 12, was considered old enough to walk to the library on my own. I’d go down there in the evenings, and I remember especially winter evenings when it was dark and cold and the library was bright and warm and I didn’t have to use the children’s section any more and I could just wander and browse. It really was like being in a candy store!

Rhys Bowen’s Schedule:
September 27-30
Bouchercon
Madison, WI
Panel: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2:30 PM: A Merry Band of Murderers, featuring Rhys, Mary Anna Evans, Jim Fusilli, Val McDermid, Bill Moody and Nathan Walpow. Moderated by Mary Stanton (a.k.a. Claudia Bishop) and Don Bruns.

Tuesday, October 3
Ela Area Public Library
Meeting Room A
275 Mohawk Trail
Lake Zurich, IL
7 PM

Wednesday, October 4
Schaumburg Township District Library
Schaumburg, IL
7 PM

Thursday, October 5
Palatine Public Library
700 N. Court
Palatine, IL
Appearing with Libby Fischer Hellmann

Saturday, October 7
Warren-Newport Public Library
224 N O’Plaine Rd.
Gurnee, IL
Cozy Forum featuring Rhys, Sharon Fiffer, Charlene Baumbich, Denise Swanson, Gail Lukasik and Suzanne Strempek Shea
1-3 PM

Her website: http://jqh.home.netcom.com/index.html

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” I don’t spend all my time wandering the beaches and gazing out to sea – although that was my vision when I moved to the Isle of Wight in 2003. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here. It wasn’t part of the grand plan which was, in fact, to have no plan at all. ”

How has the experience of publishing The Sorrow Of Sisters surprised you?

I think I have been most surprised by the strength of my own emotions. Getting published was almost unintentional. I was prompted by fellow writers and my daughter, and I thought I might as well give it a go. I’d read so many accounts of writers papering walls with their rejection slips that I had no real expectations. Tentatively, I sent a few chapters to a literary advisory service and received positive feedback and the names of three agents to try. The second one signed me up and that’s when the possibility of being published arose and the thrill of it hit me like a sledgehammer. I don’t think I’ve been quite the same since!

What about the experience has stood out from your other writing endeavours?

The exhilaration of holding the first bound copy in my hands – even though it was the German edition and I couldn’t read it! The other aspect is the vulnerability. For me, writing a novel is a bit like gestating a baby – it’s a private and intimate experience and then suddenly it’s out there for the world to pick up, consider and form an opinion. Fortunately the feedback has been wonderful. But what if everybody hated it? I think I would have to go into exile.

What projects are you working on currently?

I am working on a ‘treatment’ for The Sorrow Of Sisters. This is like a synopsis but written as the first stage of a film script. I have just received an offer from my German publisher for the second ‘Undercliff Novel’ the title of which is Blue Slipper Bay, and I am also twenty thousand words into the third – Winds That Blow Lonely.

Do you practice any writing rituals?

I need to have a clear, quiet mind before I start writing. I achieve this by dealing with any pressing external chores first so they don’t nag at me. Then I go into my writing room with a sense of the sacred. I light incense or a candle, maybe play a chant, and sit quietly for a while. I know that my best creativity lies beneath the turmoil of my ego. I can’t always reach it but I give it a chance. Writing a journal also helps clear the junk from the path. When I am ready I just start – maybe with pencil and pad or sometimes straight onto laptop. And I can go at it for hours!

What have you been reading lately? Is there anything you’re reading now, or have read recently, that’s impressed you?

Precious Bane by Mary Webb – the chosen book for my local reading group. It was first published in 1924 and is set in rural Shropshire. I usually go for contemporary fiction but this old-fashioned tale stunned me with its beauty and poignancy. It is the story of a young woman with a hare-lip, the superstition that surrounded her at the time, and her extraordinary affinity with the natural world which nurtured her generous soul.

Aside from writing and reading, what else do you feel passionately about?

People aside – The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight, where I live. It abounds with history and wildlife and stories – told, untold and imagined. It is a rugged but fragile area where humans try to control land and sea, which of course have their own agenda. And then there’s my eternal quest for the invisible dimension of life which upholds and makes sense of the visible.

Do you have a favourite quotation, or perhaps just a few words, you feel sums up your philosophy on life?

Be Still And Know – not in an intellectual or religious way but in a ‘time to stand and stare’ way. Thoughts have a tendency to preoccupy my mind with the future and the past. Taking a deep breath and feeling deeply into this moment brings me back to an awareness of the actual experience of living.

If you were marooned on an island, stuck in an elevator, or otherwise cut off from society, what one book would you want to have with you?

This is a very difficult question for an avid, eclectic reader who seldom reads the same book twice! It would have to be big and complex to maybe last a long time. Classically, I’d choose Dickens – Bleak House. Spiritually –
A Course In Miracles or Eckhart Tolle – The Power Of Now. Contemporary fiction would be Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible. But if I must choose only one – and given that I feel all life is a quest for fulfilment in some shape or form – I would go for Tolkein – The Lord of The Rings – especially since seeing the wonderful films and the New Zealand landscape which I love.

What memories do you have from your childhood, about your experiences in public libraries? Did they play a role at all in your love of books and reading?

Wonderful! My local library was an old monastery in the middle of what became a public park. I can still hear the creak of the gnarled oak doors and smell the musty books. The silence was tangible and the gloom intense. And all those shelves were stacked with promises of magical experiences. I had little cardboard tickets and, oh, the joy when I was old enough to graduate from the junior to adult sections and enter through the grown-up door! Definitely the start of my addiction.

A Perfect Book to Curl Up With as the Weather Turns Cooler

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From The Sorrow of Sisters by Wendy K. Harris:

” I was born here – the phrase kept repeating itself in my mind. I felt friendly towards it, an old-fashioned town, a hotchpotch of preserved Victorian grandeur, some renovation needed – some demolition even. There was a hut on the beach selling today’s catch of crabs and lobsters, a digger further along heaving boulders for a small harbour. It had none of the chic of the Mediterranean resorts which I favoured, but there was something comforting about it, like putting on saggy tracksuit bottoms and slippers after a day spent in a tight skirt and high heels. … It might have been nice to grow up at the seaside. But then my life would have taken a different course.”

The books I choose in the cooler months don’t always tend to be any different in genre or “weight” than those I choose in the warmer months, but it seems particularly satisfying, once there’s a bit of bite in the air, to curl up with a nice, densely plotted saga sort of novel you can completely sink into. The Sorrow of Sisters is precisely this sort of book.

Harris’s book features lush, sensual language that seems to evoke the Isle of Wight very clearly. Not having been to the island personally, I feel I can now imagine what it must be like to visit there. The imagery in this book was so vibrant and real I found myself caught up in the sights, sounds and even smells of the island, as illustrated by the many passages like the one featured above.

The book begins with a series fragmentary scenes. Before you know all the characters and have them straight in your head scenes come at you in what almost seems a random order. The feeling is a bit disconcerting at first, but it doesn’t take long before things come into much sharper focus. It’s at this point the book really takes off, moving forward in a smooth, if not completely linear fashion. It’s also at this point you begin to realize more about what was happening earlier in the book. I went back to re-read a few passages, to get things straight in my head, and I believe that really paid off as far as my continued enjoyment of the book.

Flashbacks are used in the story to great effect, allowing the reader to get the background history on the characters and the story while at the same time hurtling forward with the characters. This adds to the rich, multi-layered quality of the book. Without the backstory the novel itself wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as it is, and the method Harris employs is completely inspired. This works so well I can’t imagine a better way of approaching the writing of this book.

The plot of the novel concerns the lives three women, 49-year old Jane, a married woman with no children who’s occupied in nursing her dying father; Lillian, who has passed away by the time the main plot begins, but whose deeply intimate relationship with Emmeline is key to the book; and Emmeline herself, who survives to relate the whole tale to Jane.

Lillian and Emmeline are native to the Isle of Wight, and their sections take place there. It’s only when Jane receives notice she’s inherited a cottage on the island that she ventures there herself, and from that point on revelations about her past begin slowly unwinding as she learns more about her own ties to this land.

Surrounding these women are the men in their lives, 85-year old Henry, who’s Jane’s father and also the brother of Emmeline; Chas, who’s married to Jane; and, finally, Neptune and Woody, homosexual partners ostracized from the island community, a situation that leads them to withdraw somewhat from the world, becoming very close to Lillian and Emmeline. Neptune and Woody enjoy comfort and friendship with these two women they can’t find anywhere else, and as a result a very closely-knit friendship develops.

The many twists and turns of plot are extremely satisfying, but the fact is revealing too much about them reveals too much about the book, as well, potentially spoiling the plot for those who’ve yet to read it. The book really revolves around the revelations Emmeline gives to Jane, both about the truth of her own life and also the truth of Jane’s. Each revelation digs deeper and deeper, until ultimately Jane is sent reeling, having to decide whether she’s strong enough to commit to helping Emmeline or if her loyalty to her father is greater. Her decision reflects her great strength of character, even in the face of some very difficult truths.

The ending of the book is as tumultuous as you would expect, given the kinetic, dynamic nature of the tale. This book reminds me of a cross between Wuthering Heights and the fiction of Sarah Waters. It has all the intensity of Bronte’s work, coupled with the gorgeous prose and deep humanism of Sarah Waters.

This is a highly emotional book, fraught with both the best and worst of humanity. By turns it crushes and then redeems, ultimately finding light and hope, after the storm has cleared.

Published by Transita Publishing.

ISBN: 1-905175-26-4

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Ever heard of the romance writer Amanda McKittrick Ros? Most likely not, though she was an author read by such notables as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain, among others. So she must have been a worthy writer, right? Well, not exactly. In actuality, they read her works as part of a contest to see who could read the longest without bursting into laughter. Not exactly the most prestigious distinction, but it IS a distinction.

Can’t argue with that, now, can you?

Her other distinction was her rampant usage of alliteration. That and her incredibly melodramatic language made Twain et. al. read her work for the sheer entertainment value only the truly bad can offer. Never mind Bulwer-Lytton’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” McKittrick Ros blew the man completely out of the water. She showed HIM who’s truly bad.

Amanda McKittrick Ros (1860-1939) was an Irish writer who fancied herself an aristocrat. She dropped the ending “s” in her last name in a vain attempt to align herself with Danish nobility, in an effort to claim a family line that wasn’t anywhere near hers. She was, according to reports, a terrible snob who most likely had no idea what she was writing was anything other than profoundly literary. Which, of course, makes it all the more funny.

Despite the fact so many have laughed at her work, she’s become a sort of cult-classic icon in the way the truly bad can sometimes become. At the upcoming “Celebrate Literary Belfast” festival her work will be profiled for the “benefit” of a new generation of readers. To “honor” her, they’re planning a contest in which the winner will read the longest extract of her work without laughing. Ah, to be a fly on that wall…

Here’s an example of the sort of prose she wrote: “The living sometimes learn the touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy and the tempted; the dead have evaded the flighty earthy future, and form to swell the retinue of retired rights, the righteous school of the invisible and the rebellious roar of the raging nothing.”

Feeling a bit queasy yet? I should have warned you, sorry.

If any of the above should leave you feeling inclined to read any of her works, I should warn you they’re out of print and prices start at around $ 300. That’s the price you pay for kitsch, I guess.

A bibliography of the works of Amanda McKittrick Ros:

Irene Iddesleigh (novel, 1897)
Delina Delaney (novel, 1898)
Poems of Puncture (poetry, 1912)
Fumes of Formation (poetry, 1933)
Helen Huddleston (posthumous novel)
Jack Loudan (1954) O Rare Amanda!: The Life of Amanda McKittrick Ros (London: Chatto & Windus 1954)
Thine in Storm and Calm – An Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader, edited by Frank Ormsby(The Blackstaff Press, 1988.)

An interview with Robert Hill, author of When All is Said and Done:

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1. How has the experience of publishing When All is Said and Done surprised you? What about the experience has stood out from your other writing endeavors?

The biggest surprise to me was that I wrote something others found worthy of publishing! I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. For the past 25 years I’ve been writing mostly advertising copy for movies and, for the past three or so years, grants for non-profit organizations. I had not sat down to any creative writing, any “me” writing, for many years. Not since college, really. Yet, all through the years, I never missed an opportunity to grumble to myself “I should be writing a novel.” When I was 43, some friends staged a creative intervention. They urged me to join a local weekend writing workshop led by Tom Spanbauer, (The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon). It was a put up or shut up challenge. It worked.

For advertising, you practice the art of brevity. More often than not, you’re reduced to writing the three-word headline, the 25-word copy block. Writing the novel, I didn’t have those constraints. I could do anything I wanted. Anything. It was a totally liberating experience. As a result, in what may seem like a rebellion against all things terse, the opening sentence to When All is Said and Done is close to four-pages long. You might say it was my declaration of independence, or, at least, my declaration of independent clauses.

2. What writing projects are you working on currently?

I’m at work on a new novel. Many shifting points of view. Many characters, all of whom are extremely elderly. I’m having fun with the language.

3. Do you practice any writing rituals?

My most practiced writing ritual, unfortunately, is procrastination. I’ll circle the keyboard for hours, sometimes days, before my fingers come in for a landing. I don’t write every day at a set time for a set length of time. I work in bursts, and once in them, I’m committed for the long haul. I’ll keep working until I’ve reached the other side of whatever “arc” I’m creating. That could be two hours of twelve. I don’t recommend this system for everyone. But it works for me.

4. What have you been reading lately? Is there anything you’re reading now, or have read recently, that’s impressed you?

Books I’ve recently read and loved: Percival Everett’s God’s Country; The Last Flight of Jose Luis Balboa, a short story collection by Gonzalo Barr, Tom Spanbauer’s new novel, Now is the Hour; and for overall lasting stunning-ness, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

5. Aside from writing and reading, what else do you feel passionate about?

Of equal weight: foster care, global warming, the disappearing middle class, the grotesque rampage of corporate profits that hides behind the American Flag, historic preservation.

6. Do you have a favorite quotation, or perhaps just a few words, you feel sums up your philosophy on life?

For life in general: the Golden Rule. For writing: never write “down.” Treat readers with respect.

7. If you were marooned on an island, stuck in an elevator, or otherwise cut off from society, what one book would you have with you?

I’m fairly practical. On a deserted island, I’d hope to have any survival guide that lists the basic instructions for fire, shelter and food. In a stalled elevator, I’d want something titled The Art of Staying Calm or the equivalent. For any other situation where I’d be cut off from society, I suppose the Bible would be good. I’m not particularly religious, but it does have some pretty good stories in it. The Oxford Dictionary would be a welcome companion, too.

whenallissaidanddone.jpgWhen All is Said and Done by Robert Hill

“Cole Porter never wrote songs for couples like us. Couples who have children and dogs and freezers rusting in the garage and problems that can’t be solved la-dee-da, like it was just one of those things.”

All first novels should be this perfect. How refreshing to find a first effort that’s not self-conscious, for one thing, and one that doesn’t shy away from trodding the less-traveled road, taking a few chances with a style that’s more difficult than straight narrative. I was extremely impressed with the stream-of-consciousness influenced prose style, and the deft way Hill handled himself with this not so easy method of writing. No first novel birth pangs at all for Robert Hill, or if he had them they certainly don’t show.

When All is Said and Done deals with what is generally seen as a distinctly unromantic plot, that is an examination of a longtime married couple with children, and all that goes into holding such a relationship together. The story centers on a Jewish couple living in New York City, until they decide to leave the rat race and move out to more rural Connecticut. Unconventionally for the time, the high-powered executive in this family isn’t the husband, Dan, but the wife, Myrmy. The setting is 1950’s/1960’s America. The fact that Myrmy is the breadwinner opens up all sorts of other related issues the couple must deal with, especially after a bout of pneumonia leaves her too weak and ill to work for a long period of time.

At this point it becomes very apparent Myrmy is the strong pillar holding this family together. She’s the driven one in the relationship, for better or worse. Her character is very strong and complex. I liked her from the beginning and my admiration for her never wavered throughout the book.

This isn’t a sexy, exciting novel. It’s a novel about the long haul of marriage. That in itself may not be singular, but the very high quality of the prose is. Robert Hill writes in a style that verges on stream-of-consciousness, yet is never self-consciously literary. Never does the reader feel the need to struggle to understand what’s happening in this book. It’s all crystal clear, yet the style manages to achieve such an impressively high literary standard. Truly amazing in a new author, and if Hill continues to write this well I anticipate him potentially becoming a real force to be reckoned with.

Very, very impressive, and worth taking a brief break from my Booker Project to read.