I’m reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. Love, love, love this book. (Don’t tell me how it ends–I’m not done yet!). At more than 700 pages, it’s quite a tale, involving the Columbine shootings, a couple of Katrina victims and myriad other real and imagined events. However, I constantly find myself turning the page to the next chapter and furrowing my brow as Lamb takes me off in a whole new direction. Sometimes, I want to fight the change. (What is he DOING??) But then I remember Lamb’s an author I can trust, and I turn myself over to him. I know I’m in capable story-telling hands. He’s going to take good care of me and I can relax.
Occasionally, though, I trust a writer and he (or she) betrays me. He leads me down a dark alley, where I’m clobbered by some miserable shift in the story that rewards me with nothing more than confusion or disappointment. I’ll rarely read that author again.
Non-writing friends have told me that I read books in a different way than they do. That’s probably true. If the writing is beautiful, I’ll often read a phrase over and over again. If the writer’s done something out of the ordinary, I’ll study how he did it. I’ll marvel at the depth of character he creates, as in Lamb’s case, or in the blending of fact and fiction, as in the case of Nancy Horan (Loving Frank), another book I’m currently reading.
But I like nothing better than reading an author whom I trust to take me on a bumpy, wild, but ultimately rewarding ride. How about you? Do you ever get that “Why are you doing this to me??” feeling as you read. . . and do you trust enough to keep turning the pages?