Less a review than an admiring tribute
By Ken DeLaat
I’m a sporadic reader at best. Part of this has to do with my selection of time set aside to curl up with a book. Late-night-in-bed-about-to-fall-asleep has become my primary reading time these days and this time slot is not conducive to making much ground toward book completion.
Editor Mercer occasionally reviews some of the mountain of novels she is able to consume despite a rather rigorous schedule. Last month when she wrote an article rating the 27 (yes, 27!) books she paged out on over the past year I felt personally humbled to say the least.
Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil is able to devour books at an impressive rate as well. On the rare occasion we share a book there is never a question as to who reads it first since if she waited for me she could have seen not just the movie but perhaps even a sequel or two before getting her hands on it.
My reading tends to go in spurts. On our recent vaca last August I tore through several books and vowing to continue this oft forgotten recreational pursuit when we got home I kept the momentum going for a while eventually settling back into the chapter at a time pre-sleep ritual. It’s ok. can accept these limitations. I merely need to realize most books will turn into a marathon rather than a sprint or even a middle distance run.
Then just before Christmas I read a review of a book that sounded intriguing. My interests tend to be something with a bit of mystery to them. A unique plot or perhaps something a bit offbeat. I love Elmore Leonard’s characters, enjoy the plot twists of Alex Michaelides, and read the entire alphabet series of the late Sue Grafton (ending unfortunately in Y). This one looked different. The review I heard was on NPR and the reviewer Heller McAlpin is a favorite of mine. She is able to capture the essence of her reads in an articulate manner and I find her to be impeccably honest about the content as well as her thoughts on the quality of the prose.
The book is Foster, by Claire Keegan and though published in her home country of Ireland in 2010 (where it is part of the school curriculum there) the hardcover version only arrived here last fall.
When I searched it out I found it was just 96 pages. A perfect kick start for a short spurt reader like myself to get back into regular reading mode. I would likely burn through it in a day or two and move on to something more ambitious in terms of length
It wasn’t the way it worked out. From the first few paragraphs I realized this wasn’t a book to whip through. Ms. Keegan is perhaps the finest wordsmith I have ever encountered. Her sentences are like little gems. Thus far I have read it 4 times and each time something more is revealed such as one of her nuanced phrases that captures so much in so little. And that is what she does. She compresses a great deal in a small package, a primary challenge to any writer.
Prior to this read I had not heard of Ms. Keegan. She primarily pens short stories and for whatever reason I don't often visit those genres. However my current goal is to get my hands on as much of her work as possible. She is a true artist of the written word.
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