It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on Boykin She Cook. I’ve been too busy checking my Email every five seconds or waiting for the phone to ring with news from my agent about my novel she’s trying to sell. I’ve done a lot of cleaning and some writing on my new novel, but basically I’m in a holding pattern until I hear something, preferably good news.
One thing I discovered in this process is the true value of a great book. Not the dollars and cents kind, but the kind that is written in a clever way, a bold way. The only problem with reading that sort of book is when you’re done, nothing measures up to it and you feel the loss from its ending for some time. A GOOD HARD LOOK by Ann Napolitano is such a book.
As writers, we’re constantly reminded of the rules–cut the backstory, don’t have a million characters, stick to one point of view. And for god sake, if you break a rule, you’d better make it work or you might as well find yourself another hobby. A GOOD HARD LOOK makes made me hungry for back story. Right off the bat, I wanted to know why Cookie moved back to Milidgeville, Ga. from New York? What made her run to New York in the first place? I found myself reading for Cookie’s back story and her history with Flannery O’Connor.
Yes, Flannery O’Connor. The author actually had the literary balls to raise the literary giant from the dead and give her a heart and soul, a big Southern voice and a razor-sharp wit. While the reader is keenly aware of Flannery’s powerful presence, she is no more or less interesting or important than the other four characters who advance the story through their points of view.
The worst part of A GOOD HARD LOOK is that the story ended. But the great gift that comes with reading a book like that is it makes me want to be a better writer, a better Southern writer.