Writing less to say more

51lvoalt-2l-_sx323_bo1204203200_A few months ago, I moved into my first home! It’s a 600 square-feet condo, which isn’t considered small for Toronto these days, but certainly, it cannot be called big. So I whittled down my book collection and swore that I’d only buy ebooks going forward.

Those who read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up will recall that she says you should buy books and read them immediately. She tells her readers to throw out books they never got around to reading because they will likely never read them.

But that has been the case for me. In my cleaning, I found a copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. And I thought I’d hang onto it because he’s supposed to be a classic and I so rarely read classics.

But I regret not reading Hemingway sooner because his writing confirmed for me, that the best writing is simple. You don’t have spell things out with big words, fancy jargon and flowery descriptions. And when you’re as good a writer as Hemingway, you don’t need any of those things to convey exactly what you want the reader to feel.

fbf7be6f9c3dabeafe5bd13af1023e70I had always heard that Hemingway had a way of writing simple prose. He’s often said to have written the six-word story: “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” As I learned from reading The Moveable Feast, six words from Hemingway can hit you like a bag of bricks. And in today’s 140-character world, brevity is important.

But enough crushing and gushing over Hemingway’s word count — The Moveable Feast is just a great read. I don’t love Paris but I love his Paris. Can there be a theme park where you get to play a broke writer who drinks with other tortured writers of the time?

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Judy Blume returns for adults

23899174It’s been a hard week watching the U.S. elections. As a Canadian, I wish our neighbours to the south best of luck and suggest that they hide themselves in a good book until they have a better idea of what Trump stands for — and proceed to fight for their rights.

I recently finished Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event and thought it was, meh. My mistake is in thinking it’d be anything close to Summer Sisters, Judy Blume’s epic first adult book.

The story centres on a teenage girl named Miri Ammerman growing up with a single mom in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950’s. In the span of two years, three airplanes out of Newark Airport crash in Elizabeth earning it the nickname, Plane Crash City.

In the Unlikely Event is still full of believable and relatable, adolescent characters who are traversing the trials of growing up. This, Judy Blume will always excel at. But I just didn’t feel enough for the characters and I really didn’t like the ending. The story came up short for me. I’ll just stick to Summer Sisters, thank you.

It probably didn’t help that I took a two week break from reading In the Unlikely Event. I had planned to take it as plane reading materials for a trip to Asia but then decided against it. Who wants to read about plane crashes on a plane?

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Growing up with Marina Keegan

dcfafe2f1dfa7866acb801904dc83f5eI picked up The Opposite of Loneliness because I had heard of the author, Marina Keegan. She was a talented young writer that had her life cut short from a tragic car accident. But they rescued her writing and published them in The Opposite of Loneliness.

It took me a little bit of time to get into the first few fictional stories but once I got immersed in her world of being a student at Yale, I was hooked. One of my favourite short stories was The Ingenue. A story about a girl dating a boy who lies. Without giving it all away, it’s really about the little white lies that add up.

And that’s how The Opposite of Loneliness builds — little by little, page by page. I felt like I was growing up with her, like she could have been my university room mate.

This book isn’t good because she died young. It’s so good and that’s why it’s so sad that she died young. It broke my heart every time she wrote about all the opportunities of the future because I know it was cut short for her. (I mean, she didn’t even get to work as a consultant!)

But if it’s the journey that counts, she had a great one regardless.

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The two per cent

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I took a hiatus from reading for fun. It didn’t feel right so I’m glad that’s over. I was studying for this finance test and just couldn’t commit what little free time I had to finishing a novel. I’d look at all the amazing books I had on my shelf and feel a little guilty for neglecting them. And they’d stare back and tempt me. Little bastards.

The first one I picked up again was Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers. I’ve seen this book before but never picked it up because the cover looked boring. Yep, I judged a book by its’ cover. But now that it’s an HBO show, it has newer, dark cover art and I wanted to check it out:

Old cover:
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New cover (it’s 27% off at Indigo right now):

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I’m really glad I did because The Leftovers is an amazing read. In the not so distant future, a whopping two per cent of the world’s population disappears. One minute they’re sitting there and the next, POOF, they’re gone. The rest of the world goes into a mourning and most people think it’s something like The Rapture. But there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the people who are “chosen”. Some of them seemed like a**holes. But then what does that mean for those of us left behind?

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People try to find meaning in non-conventional ways. They’re joining weird cults, leaving their families and painfully trying to let go of the people who have disappeared. They stop buying all sorts of garbage and going to yoga (Perrotta hates yoga).

Perrotta’s characters are believable, relateable and so very broken. I couldn’t put this one down. The ending won’t satisfy most readers but only adds to the uneasiness of the story.