This advance copy of Tom Maltman's book has been shared with several people, with a range of reactions. You already know how I feel about this book - good things are on the horizon for Tom. My humble prediction is that, although he loves and respects both teaching and his students, Tom will not be a full time professor much longer. Sooner that later, he will enjoy the privilege of being a full time writer. Just watch.
One friend posed this question, "What kind of person can write such a dismal book?" When I opened LaDeDa 16 years ago, I never knew that one of the perks would be actually sitting down, talking with, getting to know, and yes, befriending, some amazing writers. So, to some extent, I can speak to that question.
Yes, Tom's book is dismal; Tom is not. However, I do see much of Tom reflected in Little Wolves. His love of t family, the land, family, history and language, resonate, as a well as a spiritual reverence that is ever present but not ostentatious. I think what makes Tom a wonderful and effective teacher is his desire to know people in ways that surpass the superficial. That, too, is reflected in his characters. By the time you finish a Maltman book, you know his characters, and sometimes question their actions, as we do even with those we know best. His characters are flawed - making them totally human.
Mike Perry is sardonic and quick, like his essays. But this guy is so terribly shy. We don't see that in his books. Mary Casanova is all heart; gentle and generous. Kate DiCammilo, author of The Tale of Despereaux and much more, chews gum like she's getting paid for it. This fast-talking, sprite fills her children's stories with energy. Unless I'm imagining it, she still hides anytime she and I are in the same room due to an unfortunate encounter a few years back which I believed may have emotionally scarred both her and her publicist.
Jerry Apps is warm and jolly. Justin Isherwood - philosophic, but cocky. I can't even share the contents of a note he sent me recently! If you want to talk dismal, let's talk Larry Watson. This guy is intensely chilly, and yet he displays fierce humanity in his novels.
I could go on but and on. What I am learning is that writers can't hide between the pages of their books but intentionally or not, they offer us readers small glimpses of who they are, and what they deem significant. Putting style, plot, language, themes, symbolism, all aside, I believe it is these glimmmers of each individual writer that draws us to the books we choose.
Who would I like to meet? Ralph Waldo Emerson would be high on my list along with David Sedaris. Throwing back beers with Hemingway would be fun, and pizza with Jane Austen....now that sounds like fun. Gotta go befoe this explodes into a full out party of one nerdfest!
What am I reading? I have to knock off 50 pages a day of My Name is Mary Sutter in order to be ready for our book discussion group on Friday. Story -good. I just don't like her style. Oliveira's sentences are too long, and she often buries the main idea in the midst prep phrases, intro clauses, and other complex structures that slow things way down. This is a war story. It should be rapid fire. Instead, I feel like I am being dragged through the mire of a cow pasture to get somewhere. that is harsh, I know. Personally, I was wishing for more story and less trying so hard to let us know that she is a writer with a bag o' tricks.
Thanks for stopping by.