Last week we read “The Poet” by Michael Connelly, a crime mystery/thriller, in book club. About a week before the meeting, one of the other club members asked if I had finished the book yet, and when I said I had only gotten in a couple chapters, he looked at me in surprise and exclaimed, “But I thought you were presenting! Cutting it kind of close, aren’t you?”
I’m actually a very fast reader, but yes, that was cutting it close for that particular novel. It’s not the sort of story that you can just breeze through. The mystery is involved, the writing has a literary flair, and there are a fair amount of characters that the reader needs to keep straight. I ended up taking a long lunch and finished the book ten minutes before the meeting.
While I felt the characters were each a bit underdeveloped, especially the main character, Jack McEvoy, (I actually felt like FBI Agent Rachel Walling was better developed and would read her story next if she had one dedicated to her – do you hear me Michael Connelly? Give Rachel her own book!) I loved the story and became an instant Connelly fan for his style of writing. I’m looking forward to diving into his Harry Bosch series, as well as reading what happens next to Jack McEvoy in “The Scarecrow”. I liked this story well enough to add it to my shelf of Mysteries I’d Recommend on Goodreads.
In preparing to be presenter, which it turned out I was not, I started looking for discussion questions. I found a starter set on Goodreads. You can check it out here:
I also found some fun trivia questions on the site:
I didn’t think the questions on Goodreads would be enough for a one-hour discussion with my club, nor did I love all the questions already available, so as I continued to read, I wrote out a few of my own. Here they are. Feel free to use them in your discussion groups.
My Favorite Quote from the Book:
“In the long run, all wrongs are righted, every minus is equalized with a plus, the columns are totaled and the totals are found correct. But that's in the long run. We must live in the short run and matters are often unjust there. The compensating for us of the universe makes all the accounts come out even, but they grind down the good as well as the wicked in the process.”
While I still very much admire the quote above, it is originally from Robert Silverberg's "Lord Valentine's Castle" (1980). Many thanks to Beaux for kindly correcting me. I've added Silverberg to my reading list.
I took a couple days off from writing in order to read "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. The novel is an enchanting story of a blind girl and a young orphan boy brought together at the end of World War II by the circumstances of war. One running with her life in her father's hands, and one inducted into Hitler's regime, their stories intertwine
This was one of those books that, after reading, makes me think I do not deserve to ever call myself "author." Like Marie-Laure's father has the gift of bringing small pieces of wood and putty together to build elaborate an elaborate cityscape for her to explore and learn, Doerr has that rare gift of fitting together words just so to bring to light the beauty of what often is an ordinary or even downright ugly world. "All the Light We Cannot See" will keep you thinking about what you have read for days following.
One scene in particular left me aching. It was the thought that a country like Germany, which was completely devastated in terms of its population by the sheer numbers of men and boys who were inducted into the regime and subsequently killed in action, left the elderly, the women and the children after the collapse of the regime without defense. This allowed other countries to sweep in and take whatever they desired, and this included souls. And where is the beauty in that, you might ask. I think it is the only thing left when the world has become a bastion of torment: Hope. Doerr has captured this perfectly without letting any character off the hook.
Whether WWII fiction is a genre you enjoy or not, this story's 500 words are well worth the read. I absolutely LOVED this novel. The Pulitzer was well-deserved!