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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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I Kissed a Book

Last night I finished a book I’d been reading for a few weeks. I held the book to my lips and kissed it goodbye, then tweeted that fact to my 194 followers and the world.

Just finished the novel I've been #amreading. So beautiful. Will miss the characters. Had to kiss the book goodnight/goodbye. #bookgrief

I was having a moment. And I told the Twitterverse. And I'd do it again.

Two people I don’t know (they’re not in my galaxy of the Twitterverse) RT’d me to their thousands of tweeps. Of course, my really clever tweets go ignored, but the moment I let my guard down and admit it, I’m at risk of trending.

The kiss and the tweet were impulses I don’t regret 24 hours later. The arcs of character and story are complete. The author definitely did his job. (Yes, I’ll tell you who in a bit. The point here is love of books. Patience, gentle reader.) So I have no right to want to know what happens to the characters beyond the ending even though I understand that for practical and artistic reasons books must have endings. I mean, I’m a writer, dammit, not some sentimental ignoramus. But if a book is good to me, I’m loyal, and I grieve not getting to read it anymore.

I’m curious to know if Mattia invites his parents to visit them and if Alice follows through with the divorce. It seems damn likely those things will happen, but can’t I read on just so I can stay connected? It doesn’t matter to me that the characters are honestly dysfunctional and that the author (Hold on! I’ll tell you soon!!) doesn’t let them off easy.

My wonderful writing coach Elizabeth Stark would admire the way the stakes keep increasing in this novel. Things were rough when when Mattia and Alice were teenagers and only became more challenging after high school and on into their 20s. But the author makes those stakes believable. I never felt as if a happy possibility was pulled out of play just to screw with the characters or the reader. The characters made choices to make life more difficult than it had to be. I’ve seen that kind of thing happen a million times and done it myself a few hundred thousand. That’s the best kind of conflict for a novel that dares to draw on real life.

I’m keeping this in mind as I work on my novel (which is going well; thanks for asking). The book I just finished feels like I want mine to feel. There’s so much sadness in life that is more beautiful and more painful than tragedy. We rarely get to experience catharsis, and if/when it occurs, it sneaks up on you so gradually it’s rendered ineffective. If my novel is “about” anything (I hate that question), it’s that. That kind of pain and beauty is what I want to achieve.

For those of you who’ve been so patient, the novel I finished reading last night is… The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano.

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One Response

  1. […] Most of the books I’ve read have been made of wood pulp, ink, and glue rather than light and electricity, but they haven’t been mine. I get to hold them as I read them, but I’ve lost count of how many books, novels especially, that I’ve fallen completely in love with only to give them back. […]

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