Jennifer Egan: Authors at Google

(From Authors at Google on March 27th, 2012)

Jennifer Egan talks about her 2011 Pulitzer prize winning novel:
“A Visit from the Goon Squad”.

I love how honestly and candidly she talks about her writing, what works and what doesn’t, and about the rules she establishes for herself as she begins each new project.

I had the pleasure of listening to The Keep on audio in 2010 and then A Visit from the Goon Squad in 2011. I’m currently listening to Look At Me (finalist for the 2001 National Book Award).  Jennifer’s writing is razor sharp, and her perception about what drives people to be who they are and to do what they do always feels spot-on.

If you aren’t yet familiar with Jennifer Egan’s novels or her short stories, I highly recommend taking a closer look.  After you do, I’d love to know what you think.

Reason #43 Why I Love Dan Fogelberg

Dan Fogelberg Nether Lands
From Dan Fogelberg’s fourth album,
Nether Lands, released in 1977.

Many writers have a variety playlists for each of their WIPs.  Some even for each chapter.  Not me.  For me, Dan Fogelberg is ALWAYS my writing music of choice.

I mean, who even writes songs like this anymore???  This is the kind of music that never fails to make me feel alive.  #love

Nether Lands

High on this mountain
The clouds down below
I`m feeling so strong and alive.
From this rocky perch
I`ll continue to search
For the wind
And the snow
And the sky.
I want a lover,
I want some friends,
And I want to live in the sun.
And I want to do all the things that I
never have done.

Sunny bright mornings
And pale moonlit nights
Keep me from feeling alone.
Now, I`m learning to fly
And this freedom is like
Nothing that I`ve ever known.
I`ve seen the bottom
And I`ve been on top
But mostly I`ve lived in between,
And where do you go
When you get to the end of
your dream?

Off in the nether lands
I heard a sound
Like the beating of heavenly wings.
And deep in my brain
I can hear a refrain
Of my soul as she rises and sings.
Anthems to glory and
Anthems to love and
Hymns filled with Earthly delight,
Like the songs that the darkness
Composes to worship the light.

Once in a vision
I came on some woods
And stood at a fork in the road.
My choices were clear
Yet I froze with the fear
Of not knowing which way to go.
One road was simple;
Acceptance of life.
The other road offered sweet peace
When I made my decision
My vision became my release.

~ Dan Fogelberg

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars!

If you like Science Fiction and classic fairy tales, read this book!

Cinder is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a while. Unlike her fairy tale counterpart (Cinderella), Cinder is smart, brave, not helpless, and lots of common sense.  I liked her immediately.  Cinder also has a fantastic voice that drew me in and kept me wanting to know what would happen to her.

Set on Earth in the post-WWIV future, the story takes place in New Beijing, the plague-ridden capital of the new Eastern Commonwealth.  Make no mistake, this isn’t another futuristic dystopian fantasy; this story is pure Science Fiction where cyborgs, androids and netlinks abound!

While there are places the writing could have gone much deeper into world-building: fleshing out the intricacies of this new futuristic society, its complicated politics, its culture, etc., I for one appreciated Ms. Meyer’s light touch.  Even so, there’s plenty of world-building here to set the appropriate tone for a story that has real emotional power.

Initially, I simply enjoyed the clever ways Cinder mirrors the classic elements of the original Cinderella fairy tale (no spoilers), but the deeper I got into the story, the more I appreciated how much work went in to crafting this unique retelling.  Although the novel uses the well-known Cinderella tale to organize the high-level plot structure, the story that unfolds from there is nothing like what you might expect and still manages to hold some delightful surprises!

I read a lot in the young adult space and I’m always on the lookout for a well written story I’d feel comfortable in recommending to my 14-year-old daughter, who loves both classic literature and classic fairy tales.  Cinder is one book recommendation I’d happily pass along.

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