Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm a retired teacher turned writer. Ferradiddledumday (my Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story) and Stuck (my middle grade paranormal novel) are available from Cedar Creek Publishing.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another Good Debut Novel

I’m still reading "quirky" debut novels, albeit a few years after they’re originally published. Tuesday I finished The Dogs of Babel by Caroline Parkhurst. Little, Brown published it back in 2003, and I bought a copy at the James River Writers Conference after hearing Parkhurst speak.

"[THE DOGS OF BABEL] rises above its quirky particulars to reach a final moment of pure, stirring grace." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Like several other books I’ve recently read, this book also has a main character who is an artist–a maker of masks. Lexy dies before the book begins, and much of the story involves her husband Paul’s attempt to answer questions about her death. Since her Rhodesian Ridgeback Lorelei was the only witness to her death, Paul—a linguist—takes a sabbatical from his university teaching job to see if he can teach Lorelei to talk.

For more about the book, this interview of Parkhurst on Identitytheory.com (“a literary website, sort of”) is informative.

Playing By the Book,” a Boston Globe article about the world of publishing, contains much information about Parkhurst and how she became a best-selling author. It’s a good glimpse of how publishing/book-selling works.

The Dogs of Babel has what I like in a novel: time that moves back and forth rather than linear, metaphor (square eggs and masks in The Dogs of Babel), first person POV (actually I like multiple POV, but first is a close contender), strong writing, interesting—yeah, quirky—characters.

Astute readers of this humble blog will notice that this post isn't an official book review; I’m just noting my reactions and giving my opinion about a book I enjoyed. Were I to actually write a review, I’d follow John Updike’s “Book Review Rules.”

But I’m too busy reading to have time to write a review. I'm more than halfway through a reread of Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

Interesting, I'll have to check that out. I like 1st POV too.

1:56 PM  

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