My husband gave me several different kinds of gourmet chocolates handmade by a local chocolatier for Christmas. I’ve already devoured the first batch which was sensational, but they weren’t quite as colorfully elegant as this collection. These came with a guide that tells me what is what in this box. Promises of Mojito, Violet Lavender, Blood Orange and White Strawberry await me. Their names tempt me with what I might expect, but I won’t know until I actually taste them, will I?
The same can be said for books.
Last night in the wee hours I finished reading a novel called Into the Mouth of the Wolf by Joshua Dagon. The proof copy of this book was loaned to me by the publisher, Breur Media. I’ve had it for a year and have hesitated to start into it because I envisioned that it was going to be another blood-bath story about werewolves. I do not read horror writing. I get my fill of the wickedness and ugliness of this real world from my newspaper reading and nightly news as it is, so why should I spend my greenbacks on horror novels?
But when an acquaintance who has helped publish a novel loans me one, I want to support their work—if I can.
This book owned me by the end of page 25. The tension developed in those first pages was captivating–talk about impending suspense and an involved story line! What fun I’ve had. In spite of the wicked red eyes of “something in the dark in the forest” that’s depicted on the cover of this proof copy, I came to realize that this book had so much more to offer than humans being devoured alive by 9-foot “Weres,” just because they could. And to add to my new reading experience—two of the “Weres” were gay. Yes, there were some “eating scenes” but I never drew the impression that the author was trying to shock the stuffing out of me, no pun intended. Nor did he choose to write voyeuristic and graphic love scenes between the two gay “Weres.” The story of the plight of these men infected by the contagion, and the way powerful human authorities reacted carried startling symbolic similarities to how this world can react to things that appear different.
To look at the cover of this book, you’d never know it had all that to offer.
I admit I get a bit irritated when I ask someone what they’re currently reading and I hear the same old names that grace the front book stands in Barnes and Noble. Indeed, those authors have worked hard to achieve the commercial success that they have, but they are not the only book game in town. How are you going to discover a new author, if you only read the same ones over and over? Your favorite authors won’t last forever. They can quit writing, and they can die.
I recently bought five new books for myself off the after-Christmas tables at Barnes and Noble: Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons; Aesop’s Fables; The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil; Hard Row by Margaret Maron, and Home by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Marilynne Robinson.
So tell me– Which chocolate do you think I should bite into first?