Then there are the poets. I don’t mean the people who actually write poetry but those who write novels filled with lyrical prose. It takes longer to get through these. Perhaps we only read a page or two a day but when we close the book we always do it with a wistful sigh. Reading these novels is like listening to particularly beautiful love song. It’s impossible not to be moved.
Then there are those gritty authors. They write the books that shock us…did that character really just say that! But that’s so graphic! So real! I’m not going to be able to get that image out of my mind for years!
But it’s extremely rare to find an author who is capable of combining all three of the above listed qualities in order to create a masterpiece of a novel. Alice Walker did it in The Color Purple. Arthur Golden did it in Memoirs of a Geisha. Anne Rice managed it in Feast Of All Saints (a non-vampire, non-Jesus novel which may very well be her best), Pat Conroy did it in The Prince Of Tides and GCC member Joshilyn Jackson has done it in Between, Georgia.
There is absolutely no way that I convey the magic of Jackson’s writing in a description posted on a blog site so let me treat you to an excerpt:
The war began thirty years, nine months, and seven days ago, when I was deaf and blind floating silent and serene inside Hazel Crabtree. I was secreted in Hazel’s womb, which was cloaked in her pale and freckled skin which was in turn hidden by the baggy sweat suit she adopted so she would look fat instead of pregnant. Which was ridiculous because who ever heard of a fat Crabtree? They were all tall and weedy, slouching around like wilting stems, red hair blooming out the top.
Hazel Crabtree was fifteen years old, and no one thought twice about her expanding waistline as she crept around the edges of rooms, watching her mother ignore her and ignoring me in turn as I kicked at her and spun and grew myself some lungs.
I never heard Hazel’s side of the story. She birthed me but was never in any sense my mother. I heard an expurgated version from my aunt Genny; to hear Genny tell it, I frolicked bloodlessly into the world attended by singing rabbits. From Aunt Bernese, I got raw medical data and a flat recitation of events in the order they occurred.
But my mother, Stacia Frett, told it to me as a love story, hers and mine. It wasn’t a declaration of war to her, it was simply the tale of how we found each other.
Admit it, you CARE about this woman’s relationship with her mother, Stacia, don’t you? Yet you don’t even know “this woman’s” name yet! But Jackson doesn’t just get readers to care about her characters, she gets you to care about her story. As I read I find myself needing to find out why Nonny (the protagonist) is so determined to divorce the gorgeous rocker sex-god that is her husband. I need to know how this war between the Crabtrees and the Fretts is going to play out. I need to know what’s going to happen to Nonny’s mother and aunt after they were attacked by the Crabtree’s dogs. I could have finished this book in a day but I’m forcing myself to read it slowly because the further I get into it the less I want it to end.
Anyway, I urge you to check it out next time you’re in a bookstore. And you should also stop by her blog from time to time; if only to makes sure you don’t miss out on any of her future offerings.
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