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Thursday, 8 August 2013
Vacation Reading
If you've been following along, I have been out of the country for the past few weeks. Hopefully, readers have had a chance to take a peek at the excerpts from a previous novel I began writing ten years ago on my first trip to Italy. It's a work in progress (okay, it's been shelved for some time - more about that in an upcoming post). If you haven't had a chance and are willing, I welcome comments: it may be worth reviving.

Soon I'll talk about the impact of travel on my writing but given my jet lag and general lack of sleep (thank you for the elongated stay in Germany, Lufthansa) I'll spend a bit more time on that piece for next week's post. This week I thought I'd talk about some of the reading I've been doing.

When I appear at book events, one of the frequent questions we're asked as writers is what we read: do we read outside our genre in which we write, fiction or non-fiction, etc. So, along with some of my other weekly ramblings I thought I'd post the odd review, particularly if something strikes me as worthy of mention, whether due to its high quality or some other characteristic.

Relatively recently I've discovered Harlan Coben. I have only read two or three of his books and along the way of this trip I read Stay Close. The book is an occasionally complex tale of a cold case about a missing man, the obsessive detective who continues to pursue the disappearance (one of the book's characters even refers to him as Javert from Hugo's Les Miserables). Coben weaves fairly complex backstories, altogether relevant for the most part into an intricate storyline. While it became clear (to me anyway) who the culprit was a ways before the reveal, Coben's narrative forcefully pushes along throughout.

What I am finding intriguing about Coben's work in the novels I have read is the depth and complexity of the worlds in these standalone novels. Certainly, he has a series of books based on his Myron Bolitar character (I have yet to read any of those though I am intrigued as the character is a sports agent, not your traditional detective, important to me given Winston Patrick's job as a teacher), the books I have read have been independent. There is a certain amount of laziness in me, I suppose, in that by writing a series I get to re-use a great deal of the characterization, back story and details in future stories without having to recreate the wheel, so to speak. In writing the number of standalone books Coben has, just the amount of work that has gone into creating these complex worlds the characters inhabit is impressive.

And he does it well, which is just as important, of course.

It could be a bit of latent jealousy that recognizes that Coben, as a full time writer, has the luxury to create these in-depth, independent stories that perhaps my more part-time status has me feeling limited by. But if you're interested, check out both Stay Close and another recent book of his I just read, Six Years to get a picture of the strength of Coben's creativity.

Next week: travel and the impact on the muse.

Posted by davidrussellbc at 12:01 AM PDT
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