Why do you read Fiction?

What do you think about when you pick up a story?  I hesitate to say ‘pick up a book’ because stories are accessed in many ways today.  The most obvious answer is entertainment, a peek at, and an opportunity to enter someone else’s world for a while. To become a part of another experience and by the time the last page is perused a sigh perhaps of satisfaction, or frustration, or contemplation.

Most of us have favorite authors we depend on, knowing what we will get, not necessarily in the events contained within, but a guarantee of familiarity.  What I like to think of as the Comfort Food of literature.  Some of you follow the top sellers keeping abreast of what’s in, providing opportunity for new experiences and thoughts.  I make it a point during my weekly library trips to include new authors, at least to me, and when a book is recommended by a friend, I read it.  I am not much for romantic themed or erotic stories and therefore have never read Fifty Shades of anything, the series that brought shades of education and blushes to the cheeks of females who otherwise may never have admitted publicly taking delight in sexual adventures.  When pressed by many acquaintances to at least give a read, my response has consistently been that I do erotica, I don’t read it. Ha Ha.  Whether that is true or not is not for discussion, but it was a glib enough response to satisfy and take the encouragers off on another path.

My Comfort Food Fiction list is fairly extensive and is the source for rereads as well as waiting in anticipation for the next volumes to appear.  Included are Koontz, Crichton, King, Cussler, Meyers, Rowling, Buck, and Dickens.  Of course those that have passed on can only stand as rereads and that is fine.

Comfort is hard to come by with a few authors and yet I embrace them heart and soul.  Reality in fiction can be sad, even depressing but the struggle, or rather surviving the struggle is a story worthy of notice.  I wonder in this western culture of pursuing happiness, if we have done ourselves a disservice and weakened our ability to survive by believing that happiness is indeed the gold ring of achievement and not survival itself.

Reynolds Price wrote a book published in 1998 called Roxana Slade which was referred to me by a friend.  It almost seems that this man merely channeled the voice of Roxana who at ninety odd years relates her life tale and takes you, the reader on a journey of struggle, loss, and survival.  His (the author) is so skilled that you quickly embrace Roxana and fold her being into your existence.  Whenever I put the book down for a bit, the characters and situations stayed with me, and I found myself thinking about them throughout the day until I could again curl up and turn another page.  Now that is amazing writing.

I have another favorite author that I simply cannot allot to my Comfort Food Fiction list, and that is Patricia Cornwell.  Her Scarpetta Series and characters are as familiar to me as my own family, but I seldom feel a sense of comfort.  The most recent read is ‘dust’.

Cornwell is a must for me even though I know there will be questions, anxiety, and frustration from time to time.  All of her characters are flawed and not in the cute little way popular fictional hero characters are flawed but overcome, but in a haunting kind of way that strikes me at times as too real.

As a Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta always has a mystery to solve but the story is more about the struggles and survival of our characters, the things they battle internally to still carry and on and succeed.  People get unjustly fired, are not well liked, have struggles with what they wish life was like and is not.  Justice does not always prevail.  Solving the mystery, catching the bad guy is often anticlimactic to the process, the living, the surviving.

Frankly, for me, experiencing the discomfort of some of these stories, the reality and the survival helps me keep my own reality in perspective.  There are sad, bad, unjust, horrible things in life. But there is much more to be valued.

Have you found the same thing?  What do you get out of Fiction?  Why do you read Fiction?

Cussler, Koontz and Stockett

I bought three books today guaranteeing some fine weekend reading as winter’s certain
arrival is heralded first by the cold dank grey blanket of wind, rain, soggy spongy lawns, and sunless skies.  It’s a good day for fireside, tea and a lacing of chocolate or brandy depending on your preference – perhaps both.

Clive Cussler

The first book, alphabetically, but not the first to read is by Clive Cussler and his son
Dirk Cussler called Crescent Dawn.  I sincerely hope I have not read it yet but there is a chance.  My friends and I read a lot of Cussler and books are passed around the group with such speed it may turn out to be an old friend perfect for a revisit.  I don’t
mind as Cussler is always suspenseful and enjoyable and really if my memory has
to go in some area this is a perfectly pleasant plot filled deficiency I can live with.

Cussler is an interesting man whose real life is laced with adventure and who enhances
extra intrigue as he weaves mystery and suspense throughout his novels.  He is the founder and chairman of NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency) and NUMA is a frequent part, and very often the center of most of his books.
As an underwater explorer he has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites.  His characters from one series frequently show up in others as Clive Cussler himself does also and blend seamlessly with the story line. Dirk Pitt, Juan Cabrillo and Isaac Bell capture
my undivided attention every time.

Cusslerwrites fiction and non-fiction and regardless of your preference you are
guaranteed to learn facts of great interest. * I saw the movie Sahara that
Matthew McConaughey starred in as Dirk Pitt and thought he was great but I did
hear that Cussler was not pleased with the portrayal but I thought it was
perfect – although it could have been the abs I guess.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz, whom I may have mentioned the odd time previously is author of my second purchase today; ‘what the night knows’ all lower case.  My addiction to Koontz started back in ’92 and what this man can portray in a single sentence is mind boggling.  It was his book ‘Winter Moon’ that started with the best first line ever (that I wrote about in a previous post), ‘Death was driving and emerald green Lexus.’
When I first found Koontz I carried a book everywhere and read at stop
lights, in elevators, as  matter of fact I think I would line up for anything just for the opportunity to read.  I would circle paragraphs or sentences and try to determine how particular words evoked a sentiment so deeply and thoroughly.  I sent Dean a fan letter
several years ago in which I described my addiction and started it by saying
that like most addicts I might not be able to tell him the exact time but I
could tell him exactly how it felt.  It was quite a brilliant letter I think and I got a typical printed response but at the bottom where his signature was he jotted a hand written note telling me how much he enjoyed the humor and wit of my letter.  He is such a prolific writer that I could not possibly begin to list my favs.  There is
one hard cover I have kept and reread for years and that is, ‘Lightning’.

The Help

My third purchase is Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ and I sincerely hope it is a good as everyone says and that all the rave reviews from friends are true and not just
fashionable hype.  I will have to let you know on that one.  I did not see the movie preferring to get the depth of the written word first.

 

Well I would love to go on and on and on but I am being harassed by three very loud  voices all calling….’Me first! Me first!

 

In Bed with Clive

Where I would rather be with Clive.

Usually when I feel a cold coming on I take ColdFx and it never comes to fruition.  I did not do that this week.

Now I have a cold.  Probably the first in several years.  So I hiked off to the store, stocked up on soup, the aformentioned med, and red licorice.  As a nurse I know red licorice heals all.  Well, I figured it would help my scratchy throat.  Its too bad everything is tasteless today.  But I have persisted.  After all the saying is feed a cold, starve a fever.  I hope I did not get that backwards? Cause I have been feeding.

When I was in shopping I came across Clive just begging to come home with me.  How could I resist?  I had already decided to spend the day resting and while he never fails to raise my interest I find him also comforting.

Truth be told it is not Clive himself who draws my interest but Juan.  Juan Cabillaro.  So I have spent the afternoon and early evening with these two charming men.

Thank you Clive Cussler and your hero in The Silent Sea for making my day better.

PS Now you really did not believe for even a minute that it could be anything except a really good book?

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