Category Archives: Books

Blog Hop: What Do I Write and Why?

Helen Maryles Shankman, author of one of my favorite books I read this year: The Color of Light, a sweeping and romantic Jewish vampire novel about the Wissotzky Tea family and some incredible art and the Holocaust, graciously tagged me to come along on this blog hop. Be sure to visit her blog at helenmarylesshankman.com!

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What am I working on:
Well, my novel MASTER OF THE MIRACLES is out on submission with my agent (the fabulous Josh Getzler) and in the meantime, I’ve been writing a series of linked short stories about the mystical city of Safed – they all have elements of magical realism and Jewish fantasy in them, and hopefully it will all come together in a collection at some point. (Here are some examples: Kissing the Messiah, The 614th Prophet, The Ari) my more recent ones include a story (forthcoming in an anthology) about the 12 dancing princesses retold as a zombie story, (oh, and the princesses are yeshiva students.) I recently wrote one about a little girl named Malka who raises a dybbuk army.

I’m also working on a Middle Grade Science Fiction story that is sort of like: The Truman Show meets The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds mixed with a little bit of Walk Two Moons.

Then there’s the BIG SECRET YA FANTASY SERIES PROJECT (in which I’m struggling with voice in a big way so I’ve put it aside for now) but it involves the retelling of some of my favorite stories, and that is all I’m going to say about that.

And a crazy post-apocalyptic vampires vs werewolves novel set in the Holy Land which I’m calling Jim Butcher meets The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, but it remains to be seen if I can pull it off.

I also really want to write a magical realism series of Urban Fantasy Cozy Mysteries set in Jerusalem’s shuk with a coffee-ground reader who runs a café, but that’s only in planning stages for now.

Here and there I write poems too.

I like to keep busy.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is why Helen Maryles Shankman and I are friends because she said: “I wish I belonged to a genre! I seem to hopscotch around Horror, Jewish Fiction, Magical Realism, Paranormal Romance, and Literary Fiction.” I guess the only one of those that doesn’t apply to me is Horror. Yes: Fantasy, Jewish Fiction, Literary Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranomal Romance, Biblical Fiction, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Magical Realism and SciFi, and also Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction.

My work is different than others because I feel I bring a really authentic voice to my work that’s not just Jewish, but part-Israeli, steeped in a deep familiarity with biblical sources and a knowledge of Jewish tradition across the spectrum of Jewish observance. I’m also a poet (and I think the best novelists were poets first,) and you can see that in my work. I love language, especially lyrical language, and that’s reflected in the way I write.

Why do I write what I write?

Well, MASTER OF THE MIRACLES is a novel that I’d been taking notes about for the past 15 years. It’s the story of Bruriah, but set in both the present day and the Mishnaic Era, but it also explores the idea of Jewish stigmata – it’s part historical fiction, part literary fiction, and part fantasy, and its a super-feminist novel – and that’s almost all you need to know about me.

I don’t think I can run from how Jewish I am so I don’t try to. Almost all my fiction is Jewish fiction. I’ve also written a biblical cookbook called EATING THE BIBLE, which speaks to my love of food and my love of the rich heritage of Jewish texts (and food!) that I grew up on. I think that all my work involves women who break stereotypes – religious, Jewish, societal and otherwise – which also probably says a lot about me.

How does my writing process work?
When I’m seriously working on a project I have to do it the Nanowrimo Way: 1000 words a day. More than that is a miracle. I force myself not to write less than 500 words a day at the bare minimum – but that only happens in spurts of 2-3 months at a time and then I need a break. I’m also a mom to 5 kids so…yeah. It’s not really possible in the long-term. I always write at night. Late at night. I’m a night owl. I need my house to be asleep and quiet and then I slink into my bedroom and crawl under the covers, prop my laptop on my lap, and enter my writing “cave.”  Sometimes I lock myself in. With coffee.

On to the tagging!

I want to tag two of my clients (since I am both an agent and an author) – I am so proud of them and so in love with what they write. I’ll add their blog posts when they get around to them:

LEAH SCHEIER, is the author of THE SECRET LETTERS (Disney-Hyperion, 2012) and now, YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR is forthcoming from Sourcebooks Fire in Spring 2015. Her website is: http://www.leahscheier.com

RACHEL MARKS is the author of DARKNESS BRUTAL, the first book in a YA Urban Fantasy Series. Watch this space for news!! She’s also an incredibly artist. Her website is: http://www.rachelannemarks.com

And one more who is not a client but is a dear friend: Kristin Gleeson. Not only has she published two books in the past year, but they are in two different genres! Literary Fiction: Selkie Dreams, and Non-Fiction Biography: Anahareo: Wilderness Spirit. Read more about her and her works in progress here:  http://www.kristingleeson.com/blog

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The Book Deluge That is Literary Agenting and Bulk Book Blogging

I have always read a ton. And when I mean a ton, I really mean A TON. As a reader, I would read. As a writer, I would read. As a bookstore employee, I would read. In university, I read a ton. As a mom, I still read. But nothing prepared me for the reading I would do as a foreign rights and literary agent.

Another thing, I ALWAYS finish books. I mean, ALWAYS. I think I could count on one hand the books that I didn’t finish…up until I started working in publishing. And now in addition to the never-ending stacks of books by my bed (and in the kitchen, and living room, and bathroom, and stairwell, and hallway) – having nothing to do with the bookcases in the bedroom, (and living room and kitchen and stairwell, and hallway and kids bedrooms…) now I am faced with SERIOUS MORAL DILEMMAS.

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Do I read:

1. A book whose foreign rights I am trying to sell (pitches with a personal recommendation ALWAYS get more requests – and I can be pretty convincing!)

2. A book in Hebrew or English by an author I might take on as a client

3. A book that might be a good comparison title to one of the books I am trying to sell for one of my clients

4. A book that I often see quoted or mentioned as a comparison title and it would be a really good idea to know what everyone is talking about

5. A book that will help me in my own research for my own writing projects

6. A book for my book club

7. A book that I simply just want to read because I love the author or it sounds great (even if…gasp! I don’t hold the foreign rights to the book and I can’t sell it which would mean that this is just pleasure reading…pure and simple.)

And of course, as you can imagine – category #7 is often what gets shunted to the side in favor of all the other books I could and SHOULD be reading.

Sigh.

Sometimes I look at all the books all around me and all the books and manuscripts on my kindle and I get paralyzed by it ALL.

ImageAnd never before have I had so many books surrounding me that are either face-down, or bookmarked somewhere in the middle – meaning I started it but…I didn’t finish. For the first time in my life I am surrounded by books I have abandoned mid-read. And I think it means two things:

1. Sometimes I would rather get a taste of something so I can at least sound like I know what I am talking about – rather than not read the book at all.

2. A book has to really grab my attention and keep it, in order for me to keep reading.

So many books, so little time, so many authors and writers and words vying for attention…and inevitably…the best ones win. That doesn’t mean that the books I stopped in the middle aren’t amazing books…it just means that something happened mid-read, something dragged somewhere, it could have been a page, or a paragraph, or my mood at the moment, but SOMETHING caused me to put that book down and NOT PICK IT BACK UP AGAIN. The horror.

ImageI came back from the London Book Fair sick with mono and CMV. So I have spent quite a lot of time reading this last month. So I am going to do a bulk book blog and tell you about the books I LOVED – the ones I couldn’t put down and read in almost one sitting…and the books that are half-finished (which I have decided that I am determined to finish this weekend…hopefully…)

THE AMAZING ONES:

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The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell – this book tells the story of two typists in the 1920s – when touch typing gave women an opportunity to enter offices and work-places that were previously male-only establishments – set against the backdrop of prohibition and speakeasies. The novel tells a tale that is somewhat of a addictive psychological thriller, but also a fabulous history lesson. The characterization and descriptions wowed me, and I read it in one sitting.

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The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison – first of all, let me just say that when I first read the description of this book I was not interested in reading it AT ALL. But I should have known. It’s an Algonquin book, and as a publishing house, they have NEVER let me down yet. I was hooked from page one, and read it in one sitting. It’s a novel about fatherhood and about tragedy, and about caring for others, and it blew me away.

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The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett – I knew I was going to read this book the second I found out it was partly set in Hay-On-Wye – the UK’s infamous “town of books” where I once tried to spend a day or two, and ended up staying a week (and having to buy an extra bag to cart away all of my purchases.) This book falls on the familiar trope of the undiscovered secret manuscript of a long-dead author (Shakespeare in particular) – and I love those types of books, but the book is also so much more – the love story and the relationship of the main character with his dead wife is heart-wrenching, and tragic, but told so tenderly and well, that it almost overshadowed the actual plot of the novel. I read it in one sitting.

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The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – there was so much to like about this novel, but more than anything I loved the point of view from which it was told – the somewhat unreliable narrator whose life has been turned upside down – but you are quite ready to see the world through his eyes and you want to believe everything he tells you. It was sad, but it was also glorious, and full of so many truths and much sadness, but also lots of hope – lots of silver linings. I read it in…guess what? One sitting.

THE HALF-FINISHED ONES (which I will finish this weekend!):

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The Innocents by Francesca Segal – this book got SO MUCH HYPE! It was nominated for so many awards, it actually won three awards (the Costa Book Award and the National Jewish Book Award and the Samy Rohr Prize) but….I’m stuck at page 122. I wanted to love this book so much…but I lost interest.

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The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway – I heard so many amazing things about this book – everywhere I went people were mentioning it, talking about it, on twitter, facebook, in reviews…I stopped on page 68. There wasn’t enough to keep me riveted, even though I liked what I read.

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker – so this book doesn’t really count as one of the books I didn’t finish because it lost my interest – this books is in a different catagory – this is a book I am loving so much that I don’t want it to end and I am savoring it, I am actually choosing to read this book slowly, and in truth, in the way it’s written, it sort of lends itself to that – alternating perspectives – and so much beautiful description – the inner torment of the characters – the meshing of all their very different lives…I will finish this one this weekend too, but I will be sad when it’s done…one of the best books I’ve read all year, but just not a page-turner in that sense, it’s a book that needs to be savored and enjoyed, one delicious page at a time.

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The Middlesteins by Jamie Attenberg – (I actually finished this book this morning…) but again, a book that got so much hype I knew I HAD to read it. I LOVED the beginning, but Edie’s slow descent into her own world of food and self-loathing was difficult to read and I did feel that somewhere in the middle the power of description displayed in the beginning of the book was sort of lost. But…it picked up and I loved the end, and Attenberg’s powers are back in full force. I’m really not sure why I got stuck in the middle, but I’m glad I returned to it and finished.

Of course, there are other books that read and enjoyed, and other books and manuscripts that I am in the middle of too…but if I told you about those I would have to kill you. Sigh…the life of a literary agent. (Or should I say book-slave?)

Wish me luck this weekend! I have books to finish!

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Deep Content and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins

I just finished reading Jess Walter‘s Beautiful Ruins. Not only was I completely enraptured by this book, but I will name it as one of the top 5 books I’ve read in the past year (2012 included). Why? Well, besides the beautiful turns of phrase (which abounded and still stick in my mind,) and besides the very human characters, and besides the beautiful setting and the literary allusions, and besides the fact that the book reminds me of some of my other favorite books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, the book is also a really good example of what I call “deep content” and this is something I’ve been wanting to blog about for quite some time.

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What do I mean by “deep content”? Well. There already exists something called “deep content” as it relates to search engines – basically it means, how rich is the content of the text you write on the internet. Quality of content. (Which usually for SEO purposes just means how often and in what variety you use certain keywords on a page.) But I want to take this one step further – as it applies to bloggers in general, and book bloggers in particular.

When I first started this blog I said that it wouldn’t be “just another book blog” that I would blog about books that moved me and that I wanted to talk about – the impressions they had on me rather than critiques. I also said that I always wanted to blog about books that led me to other books. And I also never want to blog about a book if it meant I was just repeating things that others already said. I feel like I need to actually have something NEW to say, something to add, something that makes the post my own, because otherwise, why the heck am I doing this?

And it came to me from lots of surfing around other book blogs (and seeing what I don’t want to do – and frankly, refuse to do, which is just copy and paste and post and repost stuff that’s already been said and said more eloquently and said again – no offense to any book bloggers out there, you’re doing a great job) but that I can only blog about a book if I REALLY REALLY care about it, or if I at least have something original to say.

I think that if blogs are going to survive in today’s day and age of information overload, they need to rise above themselves and provide what I call “deep content.” In Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, deep content is a multi-layered narrative that includes memoir and novel excerpts, play fragments, and intersecting lives. In a blog post, it might be – books that lead you to other books, music and/or movie clips, relevant clickable links, a Q&A with an author, a musing that the book led you to which made you possibly think different about humanity, and something which you, the blogger, can impart to the world. Something that you have to say, above and beyond the book you just read.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since The Jerusalem International Bookfair, when I heard Naomi Alderman, Maud Newton, Mark Sarvas and Boaz Cohen all speak about their blogging experiences. One thing which both Maud and Mark spoke about was the fact that they won’t blog about a book anymore unless they are really in love with it. And I sort of feel the same way, I’m not going to blog about a book unless I can give it “deep content” – unless it has given me something to say to the world that perhaps nobody else has thought of yet, unless it leads me (and others) to more books. Unless I really have something to say that matters.

Beautiful Ruins didn’t lead me to other books, but it reminded me, deeply, of ones I have already read and loved. Beautiful Ruins led me to:

a. feel completely inadequate as a writer because it was so incredibly written

b. to think about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and The Donner Party in completely different ways (just to even be able to put them in a sentence together is an accomplishment!)

c. to want to watch a bunch of old movies with starlets who are certainly “Beautiful Ruins” now

But the layering of memoir excerpts and novel excerpts and play fragments – that’s deep content. The layering of time periods and intersecting lives and countries and generations – of pop culture and reality tv with old movies and glamorous movie stars – that’s deep content. The juxtapositions of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Lacuna and A Visit From the Goon Squad – that’s deep content.

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And so too, I hope, this blog post is too.

What have I accomplished?

1. introduced the concept of “deep content” and what it could mean for you and your blog and the types of blogs you like to read (I think all the best blogs do this, naturally, btw)

2. Led you to other books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Lacuna and A Visit From the Goon Squad

3. Led you to other bloggers and authors: Maud Newton, Mark Sarvas, Naomi Alderman, Boaz Cohen

4. Explained to you the kind of books and blog posts I love and why I think that blogs are not dead, but the ones that provide deep content are the ones that will endure.

5. Hopefully caused you to think about how you might add deeper content to your own blogging.

6. Made you think about how much you really really NEED to read Beautiful Ruins NOW, with all its content – both beautiful and deep.

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Highs and more highs – The Jerusalem International Book Fair

So I just spent the week at The Jerusalem International Book Fair. I met an incredible amount of people: authors, editors, agents, publishers. I went to cocktail parties and seminars, had meetings and drank coffee (waaaaay too much coffee…), I mingled and buzzed, drank waaay too much wine (both before and after the coffee) and learned so much about the publishing industry both here in Israel and all over the world. Trends and forecasts. Hot books and bestsellers. New genres and tv-tie ins. The digital marketplace. How ebooks and tablets are changing both the way we think and the way we read. I discovered that I should never shop for books after having three glasses of wine…

The damage:

Evan Fallenberg’s “When We Danced on Water
Francesca Segal’s “The Innocents
M.L. Steadman’s “The Light Between the Oceans
Edmund de Waal’s “The Hare With The Amber Eyes
And one in Hebrew: “Akiva’s Orchard” by Yochi Brandes
But in all seriousness.
The most amazing part of my week: all the people I met (editors, agents, authors) plus hearing Antonio Munoz Molina speak (when he received The Jerusalem Prize)
The most interesting part of my week: learning about the Israeli book market from Ziv Lewis of Kinneret Publishing, and Dror Mishani (author of The Missing File) of Keter Books
The most disturbing part of my week: hearing about the pay-as-you-go reading site “TotalBoox” – still not sure what to make of it
The most fascinating part of my week: Hearing Dr. Sheizaf Rafaeli from Haifa University talk about how our brains are changing as a result of the information overload, and how it’s not just books that are changing – content is changing too. And yet. We should not be afraid and embrace this change – it’s sure to be a wild ride.
The hardest part of the week: the exhaustion
The saddest part of the week: that it’s over and I have to go back to normal life now!
Part of me is glad the Jerusalem Book Fair only happens every other year. Not sure I could handle it once a year!

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February 16, 2013 · 8:14 pm

Night Swim – One Year Later and a Q&A

I read Jessica Keener’s Night Swim one year ago. The book arrived in the mail to my office and I was immediately intrigued by the cover and the story. I read the book in nearly one sitting – I could not put it down. At the time, I really wanted to write a review of the book, but life got hectic, as it tends to do, and I never got around to it. When I saw Jessica post recently on Facebook that she was celebrating her book’s 1-year anniversary with a 50-state Skype book-club blog tour, I realized that even though I read the book a year ago, so many things still stuck in my mind. And that made me think, wouldn’t that make a great blog post? To talk about a book one year later and specifically highlight the things that stayed with you. What higher compliment to pay an author than to be able to say: “I still remember…” Then I talked to Jessica about her experience of the past year and asked her some questions – Q&A is below after I record my thoughts about the book “one year later.”

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So, this is what I still remember:

  • Peter’s guitar, his chats with Sarah
  • How a discreetly placed hand on the small of someone’s back at a party can mean so much, and be so striking an image
  • Sarah’s mother who is not only described as sitting with a back as straight as a violin bow, but whose life and actions mimic the sound and sigh of the violin she can no longer play
  • Sarah’s mother’s car approaching the intersection – the crash – I can still see that moment in my mind
  • The house, which becomes a character in the novel – dark, heavy, sad, depressed in its own right

One year later I still remember these moments, and I suspect that if I remember them now, so vividly, I will likely remember them for many years to come.

I had the privilege of asking Jessica some questions about her novel and her experiences this past year.

One year later, what sticks out in your mind about this past year? What experiences have you had? What audiences have you spoken to? What moments stick out in your mind?

Overall, the experience of meeting and hearing from grateful readers has gone beyond my happiest imaginings. So many people from all over the country have expressed their love for Sarah’s story and struggles. What better gift for an author?  As for audiences, I’ve traveled the east coast from Florida to Maine speaking and reading at writers’ conferences, book festivals, independent bookstores, the Center for Fiction in NYC, eateries, book clubs, libraries and via Skype. Skyping is my newest love as it allows me to travel and speak to folks in California, Alabama, Georgia and other distant states—even countries—without leaving home. To celebrate Night Swim’s 1-year anniversary, I’ve initiated a “Skype 50 Book Clubs” this year.

What are your favorite scenes from the novel? Which ones do you think about the most often?

Oh, this is a tough question. I care about them all. I had fun writing the fish tank scene and the night swim scene with Anthony. The party scene and dinner scenes with Elliot and Robert are also favorites. I’d list others, but I don’t want to give too much away.

You’ve mentioned in some places that you started out as a poet. I find that often my favorite novelists were poets first. Do you still write poetry?

Poetry was my first love.  I’m a great admirer of it and I love to read it. Throughout the years, it’s held a place of high honor—a vital means of making sense of life, and a beautiful way to honor the magic of words. Though I haven’t spent time writing poems for many years, I labor over my sentences. I suppose that’s my way of keeping poetry present in my work.

What’s next? I’ve seen you mention a novel set in Hungary? How is that coming along?

I’m working on a novel that takes place in Budapest in the mid-1990’s and involves American expats– an elderly Jewish man who has come to Budapest in search of the truth about his daughter’s death; and a young, American couple who try to help him. It’s a story in which one’s moral limits of right and wrong are tested.

Night Swim is a novel worth reading. It is also a novel that will stick with you long after you’ve put the book down. Trust me. I know.

You can find Night Swim here

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New Genres: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

I just finished reading City of Dark Magic by Mangus Flyte, and I must say that it was thoroughly enjoyable. Like a cross between a beach read,  a fantasy novel and a fun romping suspense/thriller. In truth, I have no idea how to even place it. Part Christopher Moore, part Katie Macalister, part Dante Club – and even a little of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars, I really have never read a novel quite like it.  I could definitely tell you that there were things that didn’t work for me: certain scenes that seemed a bit contrived, certain elements that were perhaps a bit implausible, but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to tell you what I LOVED about the novel and why the bits that didn’t make perfect sense didn’t matter.

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I loved the setting: Prague, with all its intrigue and rich history and architecture.

I loved the quest: old manuscripts, secrets, a love story (both modern and historical), a connection to alchemy and even The Golden Fleece

I loved the task: to catalogue artifacts looted from a royal family by the Nazis, Communists and history and restore them to their rightful owners on museum display

I loved the narrator: modern, spunky, super smart yet skeptical – she reminded me of a lot of what I call “accidental” heroines that you find in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

I loved the quirkiness: the dwarf, hallucinogenic toenails, awkward sex in public places etc.

Does it matter now what I didn’t love? I didn’t think so.

I think that City of Dark Magic is a new genre of genreless books. Books that have almost everything in them and therefore can’t be pigeonholed into anything. Bring on more Rom-Com, Thriller/Mystery, Fantasy, Historical, Literary novels please!!

 

 

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The Rise of the Video Game Novel

So it’s an inevitable comparison: between Ready Player One and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, in fact, it’s a comparison that is already being made across the web. Nonetheless, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot and so I wanted to add my voice to the mix.

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First, these are both books that I read recently and enjoyed tremendously. For one of the books, Mr. Penumbra, this was obvious and I sort of expected that I would. In terms of Ready Play One, it was completely unexpected. I’ll explain. First of all, Robin Sloan’s book has the word “bookstore” in the title. Ding! I’m already interested. Second, I was hooked from the first page (an immediate description of someone applying for a job in a narrow store-fronted mile-high bookshop in San Francisco) Umm. Yep. You got my attention. I have worked in bookstores in four countries, so yeah, I’m reading this book. But Ready Player One was not a book I ever thought I would be interested in. A book about video games? Not my thing. 80s culture? Yeah, I lived through it but don’t particularly want to go there again. I didn’t even understand the title until it was explained to me – that’s how few video games I have played in my lifetime – even though I am a child of the 80s and 90s. And yet. I loved the book.

Now, I’m not someone who can sit here and rattle off comparisons between these novels and others, because this is not a genre I normally read. I’m sure there are books out there (that I haven’t read) like Microserfs (I mean, how can you NOT mention Copeland here,) and the novels of Neal Stephenson (Ok, I’ve read some of his books,) which warrant comparison to Ready Player One, but to me the book was completely novel. Sloan’s book can easily be compared to books the The Club Dumas, with elements of the Da Vinci Code, a certain Umberto Eco feel, and even, I’ve seen people compare it to Haruki Murakami‘s work, I’m not sure I agree with that one. But still, the book defies comparison. Both of the books do. The only books I can think of to compare them to is each other.

So what does that mean? Do these novels mark the rise of a new genre? And what exactly would it be called? Techno-geek with touches of D&D, old-school 80s fantasy novels and culture, combined with the deep dark questions of where is technology leading us and what will happen when physical books are no more and we all live in virtual worlds? Because even though Ready Player One is post-apocalyptic, it is a story, like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, about how we make sense of our current reality. The only reason Ready Player One makes so much sense, is because its plausible. As is Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore. The characters in both novels are real, humble, human, geeky, in other words, kind of like a lot of us, and technology and the internet gives them the power, to be larger and more powerful than themselves, to think in new ways, to think outside boxes and living rooms and even outside computer screens. I know this is going to sound cliche, but, in the end, both Clay in Robin Sloan’s novel, and Wade, from Ernest Cline’s novel, need to look within themselves for the answers. They are not super-heroes, but in going beyond their circumstances and their lives, and indeed in thinking out of the “box” that we all find ourselves glued to today (and I don’t mean TV,) they do become a form of hero, they get the girl, and they learn that technology and avatars and virtual reality don’t hold a candle to actual reality.

I must say that what I perhaps found lacking in Ready Player One, which was abundant in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, was book references. Anyone who was playing video games in the 80s and watching all those TV shows and movies that Cline mentions in the book, was also, often, reading classic 80s fantasy and Sci-Fi novels. Sloan touches on it in Mr. Penumbra, and to me it was one of the most endearing parts of the book – the idea that an author might encode or alter a version of his/her novel, the idea that the novels we write are works in progress that capture a reality of the world as we know it when we write the novel, but that that reality changes, and the power we as authors have to decide, or decide against, making a change or letting our work speak for itself.

My call? For the next great Ready Player One and Mr. Penumbra-style novel that is a homage to the virtual worlds we all grew up in between the pages of 80s books.

For me, it’s 80s Fantasy:
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, David Eddings’ Belgariad, Terry Brooks’ Shannara, Margaret Weis’ Dragonlance, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms, Zelazny’s Amber Tower, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionovar, Tad Williams’ Dragonbone Chair, Ann Mcaffrey’s Pern, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Charles de Lint’s Newford, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Raymond Feist’s Riftwar, Brian Jacques’ Redwall, Piers Anthony’s Xanth,and so many more: Mercedes Lackey, Stephen Donaldson, John Crowley, Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, Dianne Wynn Jones, Clive Barker, Tracy Hickman and…I must stop this list or I will be here all day.

Please add ones I’ve forgotten in comments!

And I call on someone else to make this list for 80s SciFi because I am not well read enough in that genre to list those worlds, though they are sister/brother worlds to the ones I listed above, and deserve an expert of their own to pay them homage.

I only wish I had the time and brain space to write it myself.

(Oh, and totally buy Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore in Hardcover – it GLOWS IN THE DARK!! Ready Player One is out in paperback.)

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