Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thank you, Sherman

So, on Thanksgiving morning, as we were packing the car for Mee-maw's house, I stopped to lament.

I couldn't help it.  Something had been weighing heavily on my heart, and I couldn't stand it any longer. I marched into the kitchen and confessed to my partner. 

As much as I try, and much as I read, I cannot, cannot get into Young Adult fantasy books.  Even the bestsellers.  What is wrong with me?

It's kind of a problem because I just wrote this manuscript that is kind of fantastic, kind of science fiction.  And I've been immersing myself in YA, as any responsible writer of a new genre should do.  Contemporary? Check. Dystopian? Not a problem. Zombies? Well, I like the French ones. But every time I check out a fantasy novel, I can't get past the names without either groaning or giggling.

I felt truly, terribly awful for having decided, once and for all, that fantasy isn't my thing.  What made me think I would be charmed by Daughter of Smoke and Bone if I couldn't get past page 3 of The Lord of the Rings? I tried.  Lord knows I tried. So I spent the first few hours of Thanksgiving morning in frustration, until my partner, as always, put things into perspective.

"That's all right," he said. "You don't have to like fantasy."


So the day after Thanksgiving, after having taken my son and nephew to Legoland Discovery Center (a glorified store, folks--not a theme park), I poured myself a well-deserved glass of wine and settled down with Sherman Alexie's graphic, violent, disturbing novel, Flight.
from here

Holy crap.  That book saved me.  Sherman Alexie pulled me from my reader's malaise and shot his arrow right through my heart.

I don't enjoy violence in novels.  Usually it's gratuitous and caters to a blood-titillated audience, long ruined by Hollywood bloodlust.

Flight is not a long novel. I started on Friday and I finished it this morning.
It was rough and painful and disillusioning.

And so I was completely gobsmacked when the last three pages made me cry. 
Three times.
I had to quickly shamble to the bathroom so my nephew wouldn't see my stupid, wonderful tears rolling down my cheeks.
(Shamble is Alexie's word.  I stole it from Flight.)

So thank you, Sherman Alexie.  Thanks for making me feel the magic of fiction again.  For helping me see the Literary in the novel again.

For making me believe in happy endings.


  1. You deserve to 'like' what you like and should not feel for any reason you need to force yourself to enjoy something that is not for you. That's part of the joy of reading: there is enough out there for everyone (and an audience for those books you don't enjoy). :-) Smart of you to own it!

  2. Thanks, Greg. I'm accepting the fact that my brain isn't wired for fantasy. Onward to more books. I'm on a Sherman Alexie binge. Reading my third Alexie book this week.

  3. There are French zombies?! I need to read more paranormal, obviously! And it's okay not to like, or "get," a particular genre. At least you *read* fantasy before deciding it wasn't for you. How many just dismiss it without giving it a chance?