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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Character, Plot and Subject

by Carol Herder

OK, I admit it. I’m having a crisis. I recently read a suspense novel that was so awful I asked myself whether writing suspense for adults was a career I really wanted to pursue. Could I force myself to deliver a book for an audience satisfied with a caricature protagonists and slight plot lines? I won’t mention the name of the book, but suffice it to say it freaked me out.

Then I remembered a novel I recently read entitled “American Rust.” Whew! There STILL are readers of substance who appreciate good characterization, captivating plots and enlightening subject matters. Everyone loves books for different reasons, but for me it has always been about those three things; a character I can identify with, a provoking plot, and a subject from which I can learn something. Yes, you absolutely should expect to learn something from a fiction novel!

From the first page, “American Rust” completely engaged my attention. In this book, author Philipp Meyer portrays a handful of characters and successfully follows them through a devastating incident. Even as I cried at Isaac’s misfortunes I knew in my heart he must complete his heartbreaking and perilous journey. At first I didn’t like Poe very much, but he too is constructed so wholly I began to appreciate his problems. Isaac’s sister, Lee, would be easy to despise, but Meyer’s strength in the details as he illustrates Lee’s life lets the reader understand he isn’t making excuses for her. She, as everyone else is only human. He portrays in-depth character so perfectly, that as a writer, I wanted to reread and dissect every nuance of his characters, plot and subject. Meyer’s meticulous detail builds a world that is authentic and realistic. I rarely read a book more than once. Only the greatest writers deserve such attention, Austen, Hemmingway, the Bronte’s, Forrester, Alcott, and C. S. Lewis. However, “American Rust” is drenched with writing so wonderful and true; I might add it to my list.

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