In The Writer's World

It’s been an intense few days. Boxes of books began arriving today, and I am overjoyed. Already I have a big stack ready to mail to the first people on my list. I’m out schlepping–post office, Annie Bloom’s (my neighborhood bookstore), office supply store, more bookstores…. If I haven’t found you yet, I will!

Also, last night I completed a big chunk of Chapter 3 in my new novel wherein Emma Golden and her friend Melody Wyatt head to the southern Oregon coast to look for Melody’s missing sister. That is all I am going to tell you right now–except that there are some great characters here just waiting to tell their stories.

Andy recommended a movie called Frozen River, and I watched it last night. This is the kind of film I love stumbling across–a small, low-budget event with great screenwriting, acting, story, and message. Five stars. It’s set in upstate New York and involves a family whose patriarch is a gambling addict. It’s just before Christmas, he takes all the money and disappears. Mom (Melissa Leo) is making minimum wage at Dollar King. There are no groceries, no presents, the single-wide trailer is falling apart, and it’s 19 degrees below zero F.

Through a chain of circumstances strange but totally believable, she hooks up with a younger Mohawk woman (Misty Upham) and they begin smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. from Canada by driving across a frozen river! The characters are well-drawn and totally believable. There is not a spare second in this film. And, after watching it, I have no fingernails.

In the reading department, an unpretentious Minnesotan named Leif Enger. His first novel, Peace Like a River, grabbed me the moment the protagonist’s father commanded him “in the name of the living God” to draw his first breath. Eleven years later finds father, protagonist, and two younger siblings in search of the eldest son who’s gone outlaw after shooting two of his schoolmates. It is quite the picaresque. I couldn’t put it down.

Enger’s latest, So Brave, Young and Handsome, lacks the urgency of his debut novel; however, the characters are well-drawn, Enger’s language is poetry, and it’s a whopping good tale.

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  • T William says:

    Thanks for the movie recommendation (Frozen River). I’ll check it out.

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