In the High Peaks

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Wind is Not a River (Great Read!)

I so appreciated the research and painstaking care that Canadian writer Brian Payton put into his 2014 debut novel, The Wind is Not a River. As I mentioned in a previous post, John Easley is a journalist who fakes his way into the World War II combat zone in the Aleutian Islands in order to inform Americans about a brutal North Pacific war they know absolutely nothing about. When the combat plane he's on is gunned down and crashess into the ocean, John is the sole survivor who floats ashore onto one of the Japanese-occupied Aleutians. His incredible struggle to survive on a wintry, barren North Pacific island in the midst of thousands of occupying Japanese is interlaced with the struggles of his wife in Seattle to find him and bring him home. The writing is near-perfect, the characterizations full of deep emotion--exquisite! I highly recommend this book. Payton casts a spell.

I've nearly finished Gillian Flynn's debut novel Sharp Objects and will report on it soon. I don't have far to go now, and it's easy to see why Stephen King had so much admiration for this novel. (!) I can honestly say that I have found it difficult to put it down, yet the Kingsian elements are making me hope I make it through to the end in an intact emotional state! Gads. While I'll agree that Gone Girl had some great surprises, I believe that Sharp Objects is a better novel from the point of view of the characterization of Camille, the protagonist, and the incredibly tight infrastructure of the plot. Gone Girl has some supreme plot points. But if a new novelist is to be published, he or she must  have a flawlessly tight plot, excellent pacing, and high drama. And that's Sharp Objects. Yes, Gone Girl has been on the bestseller list since forever, but super-hyped great surprises sell more books than better debut novels.

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