Like my fellow Debs, I read a lot. A ton. And very quickly, mostly because quick is all I have these days.
Caveat: I may be quick, but I’m not always timely (also like my fellow Debs – Debs of a feather flock together, and all that), meaning that books released in 2006 may not cross my desk until, oh, 2008 or so. So the title I am about to put forth is six years old, but by far the best book I read in 2006, so here it is:
Aside from the usual accolades (PEN/Faulkner Award, National Book Award Winner, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, NYT Notable Book, yada yada yada), it is a damn good book. It’s eloquent, easy to read, but multi-layered and complex. It’s literary fiction at its best, and carries a moral: Be careful what you wish for (because you just might get it). It also has one of the best first lines of a book: “Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” Now how could you not start reading with an opening like that?
But here’s the other thing I love. The author, originally a Chinese national, was illiterate until his mid-teens, lived through the Cultural Revolution, studied in America, wrote a bunch of poetry and books, and now teaches English at Boston University (he use to prof at Emory , too). Plus there’s all those awards and that Pulitzer Prize thingy. I have to say I admire that about a writer. I mean, sure it makes me feel like a wimp for whining about not finding time to write, but it also makes me respect the process of writing even more, and pushes me to be a better writer.
Who, or what, helps you be a better writer?