Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reviewing Pure Spring by Brian Doyle

Author Brian Doyle has been published since 1978 and has won many awards over the years. Reading Pure Spring, a teen book published in 2007, I can easily see why. This author does it all. He strings along a good story in a fast and readable way. He introduces history and social situations from the 1950's in a 'painless' way for the modern reader. His book reads easily for those who struggle with reading, while maintaining a fascinating plot line for the mature reader. Doyle gives just enough hints of a past accident which takes the life of the main character's parents without giving away too much. Other traumas which shape the boys life and result in his sharing living space with "Granpa Rip" trickle out of the pages steadily. The character Martin is believable, appealing and has admirable moral qualities without this being overdone. One particularly seedy character is well-drawn and his lewd remarks are never written in the easy way which makes a book 'off-limits' for teachers and librarian recommendations. Racism, anti-communist paranoia and antisemitism is also treated in such a way as to respect the reader's ability to discern and judge for him/herself.
Did I say I like his style?
BTW Happy Birthday. Follow the link:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review of 'Victim Rights', by Nora McClintock

In my ongoing quest to catch up on Canadian Y.A. authors I just got Victim Rights by Norah McClintock from the library. I have heard Norah speak about mystery writing at a conference and she was full of good information. *
Anyway, back to Victim's Rights. I liked it. Not having read any of her books before I had to keep looking at the cover to see for sure I hadn't accidentally switched books and picked up some male author named Noah McClintock or something. Unlike a lot of writers she can get into the skull of the other gender and make it seem real. Emotions, decisions, thoughts, and reasoning like the opposite sex is more difficult than you might think. Little things give it away, especially when the reader, like me, is watching like a hawk to see if she can pull it off.
But McClintock does the angry young man thing very well. Dooley, the hero, is authentic. Unable to understand some of the more subtle points of emotions and often ready to explode at those things that piss him off, Dooley is a loaded shotgun. The reader is fascinated. Like a moth to a candle Dooley repeatedly approaches situations which anyone with half a brain would know are stupid and dangerous - obviously you need a character like this to move along a mystery plot, but this behavior is also just like a love-sick seventeen year old. The dialogue in this book is great, especially the unspoken thought lines that accompany most of it. The only problem with it, for me, was the swearing. But the difficulty with swearing is replacing it with something equally extreme that sounds like how people really speak.
I'll let you know if I ever figure that one out.

* There is a snobby attitude towards mystery writing. I had one comment on a manuscript of mine which was "...oh. Is it just a mystery? Nothing more earth-shattering? " - insert a little superior smile here- But Norah readily admits to being inspired by Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys - something the writing elitists would never admit to.