Aug 092012

Confession: I cried at the end of Sounder and Bridge to Terabithia. I also cried at the end of Steven King’s short story, “The Body,” in which the movie Stand by Me was based on. And the reason I cried at the end of that story was because Gordie’s character felt he had to mourn the death of his friend Chris in his car by himself because he didn’t think anybody would quite understand. And that kind of loneliness gets to me. And this is also the reason why I cried when I read George Orwell’s, Down and Out in Paris and London. When Orwell touched on the shame of being poor and the way he hid his poorness from others, it struck me hard. Most recently, I cried when I read a beautiful passage within Jamaica Kincaid’s book, Annie John.

Annie John was speaking about her father and how he was given to his grandmother when he was a child. He was so close to her that they slept in the same bed until adulthood. He woke up one morning to find that she had passed away. He was eighteen and alone. Even though he ended up with his own family, no amount of love they gave him would ever suffice for the loss of his grandmother’s love. Annie John never thought of how sad her father was until that moment and that sentiment made me cry like a baby. And you would have to understand a small part of my family’s past in order to get that.

My father’s mother died when he was seventeen. His father passed away when he was twenty-four. He was parentless by the time he was twenty-five. I never thought about what that could do to a person, let alone my dad until my late twenties. To this day, I can’t imagine that it wasn’t completely devastating for him. I know that’s how it would be for me. Even when I brought it up a few years ago, he quickly changed the subject. Could he still be mourning their deaths some thirty years later? I think so. As we all know, there is no time limit on pain. This is why I could empathize with the passage in Annie John.

The pain exhibited in all of the above mentioned works is so strong and relatable that it shook me to the core. Now that’s good writing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to read about a characters struggle or pain without feeling some sort of emotional connection to the writer. What do you all think? Which books do you feel an emotional connection to?

Jun 162010

Dark clouds hung in the sky. The weather report said to expect rain. Right before noon, it dropped from eighty to the mid-sixties. Great … The rain ended in Wicker Park around two in the afternoon. That’s when we decided to make our way to the Printer’s Row Book Fair. The parking space Gods were in our favor as we found a space a block away from the fair.

When we walked in, I noticed a few things. For one, it wasn’t as crowded as previous years. I attributed that to the abysmal weather, but the diehard fans of books, fellow writers and readers were in show. I also noticed that the fair was smaller this year and there weren’t many tables. That was a bummer. I always look forward to seeing the many bookstores, authors and lit pubs. Maybe it was just too expensive for them to pull off this year? Whatever it was, I found it rather unfortunate. The Printer’s Row Book Fair is one of the best festivals in Chicago. Period.

Walking in the rain @ the Printers Row Book Fair 2010

This year I had an agenda. I was going to hit all of the Chicago literary publications and buy some of their back issues. As a writer, it’s a good idea to have a sample issue in which to refer to when figuring out where to send your work for potential publication. You also want to be supportive of your industry. It’s also pretty cheap. You can usually find back issues for about half the cost of a regular issue. So, I bought a few back issues of After Hours and The Common Review.

As I continued to walk around, I saw a table stacked with beautiful, old hardcover books. On a whim, I purchased The Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett.

The Old Wives Tale

The Old Wives Tale by A. Bennett

I also found a small Chi-town publisher by the name of the Chicago Review Press and I couldn’t pass up one of the books sitting on the table. Zombie Movies, The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay. It was calling me. This book is a huge guide detailing zombie movies from the 1930’s through today. I know I’ll use that one for sure. We love zombie movies.

I also came across a few other interesting things and people this year. There is an interactive fiction video game called 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery. In this game, you are able to wander around the grounds of the 1893 world’s fair and read about the exhibits.

Here’s what I found about the game on their Web Site:

“A theft on the fairgrounds! Precious diamonds stolen from the Kimberly Diamond Mining Exhibit! An urgent telegram from your old partner arrives, requesting your help to solve the mystery. How can you refuse? And besides, you’ve been dying to see the wonder of the age everyone has been talking about, this Columbian Exposition. And so, dossier in hand, you take the next train to Chicago.

But this is no simple theft. And as theft turns to kidnapping, and kidnapping to murder, you find yourself at the center of a plot the extent of which you can only begin to imagine…”

It sounds rather interesting and innovative. I’m down for trying this game out in the future.

I also came across a writer by the name of Nick Valentino. He has a book out called Thomas Riley. Apparently, it’s a pretty exciting adventure novel. I didn’t purchase it as adventure novels aren’t really my thing, but I found Nick to be an extremely charismatic author and sales person. If I were into adventure novels, I would have purchased one from him. The woman sitting at the next table seemed rather annoyed. Maybe it was because he was selling more books than her. Come on folks, don’t be haters.

I hope the Printer’s Row Book Fair continues to live on, so keep showing up to support. It’s one of the best festivals in Chicago and something you have to experience for yourself to believe.

Printers Row Book Fair, Chicago 2010

Books, books everywhere