Tag Archives: literature

How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense and Their Secrets

How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense

As a mid-career novelist, I am attempting to forge fiction that is a hybrid of the literary and mystery and suspense genres.  And I have my role models, novelists whose work while suspenseful, also showcase in-depth characterization as well as consistently elegant and thought-provoking sentences that rival anything published in the “literary genre.”

One preeminent writer of this sort of fiction is the late Iris Murdoch, a Booker Prize-winning novelist as well as a professor of philosophy at Oxford, whose deeply thoughtful novels are often characterized by gruesome acts of violence and torture (both physical and psychological) and delicately wound in a golden thread of suspense. Two of her books, each of which involves small-town life, were particularly inspirational. First and foremost is The Word Child whose protagonist, Hilary Burde, an abused orphan, finds that his gift for language (how it works and fits together in poetry as well as prose), wins him a place at Oxford. Burde graduates with high honors, lands a teaching job at his alma mater, and at the height of his career, enters a love affair with a married woman, which is found out and causes him to lose his hallowed place in academia and bottom out.  Hilary ends up in a boring, unchallenging office job and one day learns that his new boss is the husband of the woman with whom he has had the affair.  The way Murdoch maneuvers her characters and situations with deep insight into love and relationships is intense and suspenseful, and from research into her personal life, I conclude that she has drawn the portraits of her characters from the obsessive, arguably destructive love affairs that punctuated her life—until she became afflicted with dementia.

 

Adding to this suspenseful novel is another Murdoch in the same vein, A Fairly Honourable Defeat, which begins as an experiment by a sinister character named Julius who aims, through a series of false claims and lies, to undermine the loyalties of couples (both gay and straight) and wreaks havoc on the lives of people who presume him to be a friend.  The book is perfectly balanced between plot and characterization and is founded on a provocative idea: that evil is communicated throughout the world by people who suffer from it and who are willing to pass their suffering and this evil onto the next person.  And the only way evil is stopped is when the suffering person makes a conscious attempt not to pass it on.

From Murdoch I move on to an American novelist, William Kent Krueger, the author of the Cork O’Connor series of mysteries whose stand-alone novel, Ordinary Grace, paints an indelible portrait of a small Minnesota town in the early 1960s and whose first-person protagonist, the son of a preacher, recounts a summer of five deaths, some of them accidental, some of them murders, and one of them, tragically, of his older sister.  This potent coming-of-age novel rivals similar novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace, and takes its title from how the narrator’s father handles all sorts of difficult situations with ordinary grace.  This book won the Edgar Award for best novel for a work of fiction published in 2012 and in many ways is remarkably similar to Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, another first-person coming-of-age novel set in the same part of the world portrayed by the winner of the National Book Award in the same year.  Having read and admired both of these novels, I would be hard-pressed to choose which one is better, and I have no doubt that Erdrich and Krueger probably read one another’s novels and admired them as much as I did.

Source: strandmag.com

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55 American English Words Derived from Algonquian Languages

American English has been enriched by the widespread adoption of words based on vocabulary of Native American tribes, including the many tribes that spoke (and, in some cases, still speak) one of the Algonquian languages of what is now eastern North America. The following is a list of such terms, more or less commonly used, most of which refer to animals or plants or products derived from them.

apishamore (Algonquian): a buffalo-hide saddle blanket
babiche (Míkmaq): a leather or sinew thong or thread
caribou (Míkmaq): a species of large antlered mammal
caucus (Algonquian): a group of people who meet to discuss an issue or work together toward a goal; also a verb
chipmunk (Odawa): any of various small rodent species that are part of the squirrel family
chinquapin (Powhatan): a dwarf chestnut tree or its nut
cisco (Ojibwe): a whitefish
hackmatack (Algonquian): a type of larch tree, or its wood
hickory (Powhatan): a type of tree or its wood, or a cane or switch made of the wood
hominy (Powhatan): soaked and hulled corn kernels
husky (based on shortening of the Cree word from which Eskimo is derived): a type of dog; the adjective husky is unrelated
kinkajou (Algonquian): a Central and South American mammal
kinnikinnick (or killikinnick or killickinnick) (Unami Delaware): a mixture of dried leaves and bark smoked like tobacco, or the plant (also called bearberry) from which the materials are taken
mackinaw (Menomini): a heavy type of cloth used for coats and blankets, or a coat or blanket made of the cloth, or a type of trout
moccasin (Algonquian): a soft leather shoe or a regular shoe resembling a traditional moccasin, or, as “water moccasin,” a species of snake or a similar snake
moose (Eastern Abenaki): a species of large antlered mammal
mugwump (Eastern Abenaki): originally, a war leader, but in American slang, a kingpin, later a political independent, or someone neutral or undecided
muskellunge (Ojibwe): a pike (a type of fish)
muskeg (Cree): a bog or swamp
muskrat (Western Abenaki): an aquatic rodent
opossum (Powhatan): a marsupial (sometimes possum)
papoose (Narragansett): an infant
pecan (Illinois): a type of tree, or the wood or the nut harvested from it
pemmican (Cree): a food made of pounded meat and melted fat, and sometimes flour and molasses as well
persimmon (Powhatan): a type of tree, or the fruit harvested from it
pipsissewa (Abenaki): a type of herb with leaves used for tonic and diuretic purposes
pokeweed (Powhatan): a type of herb
pone (Powhatan): flat cornbread; also called cornpone, which is also slang meaning “countrified” or “down-home”)
powwow (Narragansett): a Native American medicine man, or, more commonly, a Native American ceremony, fair, or other gathering; also, slang for “meeting” or, less often, “party”
puccoon (Powhatan): a type of plant, or the pigment derived from it
pung (Algonquian): a box-shaped sleigh drawn by one horse
punkie (Munsee): an alternate name for a biting midge, a type of fly
quahog (Narragansett): a type of edible clam
Quonset hut (Algonquian): a trademark for a type of prefabricated structure with an arched corrugated-metal roof
raccoon (Powhatan): a type of mammal noted for its masklike facial markings, or the fur of the animal
sachem (Algonquian): a chief of a Native American tribe or confederation of tribes; also, a leader in the Tammany Hall political machine
sagamore (Eastern Abenaki): an Algonquian tribal chief
shoepac (Unami Delaware): a cold-weather laced boot
skunk (Massachusett): a type of mammal known for spraying a noxious odor in defense, or the fur of the animal; also, slang for “obnoxious person”
squash (Narragansett): any of various plants that produces fruit, also called squash, that is cultivated as a vegetable; the verb squash, and the name of the ball-and-racquet game, are unrelated
squaw (Massachusetts): a Native American woman or, by extension, a woman or a wife; the word is widely considered offensive
succotash (Narragansett): a dish of green corn and lima or shell beans
terrapin (Powhatan): one of various types of turtles
toboggan (Míkmaq): a wooden sled with the front end curved up and, by extension, a downward course or a sharp decline (the activity of using such a sled is called tobogganing); also, a slang term for a winter stocking cap with a pom-pom or a tassel
tomahawk (Powhatan): a light ax used as a throwing or hacking weapon; as verb, it means “use a tomahawk”
totem (Ojibwe): an object, usually an animal or plant, serving as a family or clan emblem, or, more often, a carved or painted representation, often in the form of a pole fashioned from a tree trunk and carved with figures representing one’s ancestors (also, a family or clan so represented); by extension, any emblem or symbol
tuckahoe (Powhatan): a type of plant with an edible root, or the edible part of a type of fungus
tullibee (Ojibwe): any one of several types of whitefish
wampum (Massachusett): beads of polished shells used as ceremonial gifts, money, or ornaments; also, slang for “money”
wanigan (Ojibwa): a tracked or wheeled shelter towed by a tractor or mounted on a boat or raft
wapiti Shawnee): another word for elk
wickiup (Fox): a hut or shelter made of a rough frame of vegetation
wigwam (Eastern Abenaki): a hut or shelter made of a rough frame of vegetation or hides
woodchuck (Algonquian): a type of marmot (a small mammal); also called a groundhog

Source: dailywritingtips.com

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eBooks: Men Lie, Numbers Don’t #FED_ebooks #ebooks #author #writer

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How the eBook Revived Our Love for Literature

Source: http://www.literacynews.com

By: Tahar Rajab

It seems as if a very silent revolution is transpiring before our very eyes. To witness it unfold, one needs to simply look up the next time they’re seated on a train. That is if their attention isn’t already occupied by a piece of wonderful literature of course. You see, Great Britain is being transformed into a book reading nation and – if stats are anything to go by – it’s all thanks to the eBook.

Men lie, numbers don’t. Therefore, the statistics behind eBook and First Edition Design eBook Publishinghardcover books, along with reading preferences amongst the younger generation, is telling. EBook sales grew by a whopping 177% last year, with 53% of those who bought eBook readers proclaiming that they now read more books than they ever did before.

Perhaps the most crucial statistic however, lies within 50% of kids saying they want to read an eBook, with one third claiming they would read more with eBooks. Now as previously mentioned, ‘men lie, numbers don’t’, and so on that understanding (and after replacing ‘men’ with ‘kids’ of course), it may very be that these children wouldn’t read more with eBooks and are generally simply fibbing about their desire to read an electronic book. However, as such stats are all we have to go by, one would be correct in assuming that the upcoming generation is one with a rekindled (no pun intended) literature love affair.

Why?

The eBook has transformed lives and the way we approach literature. How it has done so, is really quite simple. Having the capability to do something spurs desire for it to be done. This is the case with the eBook, which by providing users with potentially hundreds of different titles to choose from in one device, stimulates the will to read.

Another reason can be found in the enormous gulf that once existed between books and technology. This can be better explained as a gap between the young and the old; between a generation that grew up with literature as a leading form of entertainment, to one that found leisure in technological advances, such as CD or mp3 players and handheld game consoles. With literature now being available on the latest technological handheld devices, this chasm is no longer, and both sides are now merged together.

Is All Rosy?

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eBooks are outpacing print books

However, perhaps there is a detrimental side effect to the rise in eBook popularity. For every 100 hardcover books sold by Amazon, the website flogs 143 eBooks. EBooks are thus seemingly replacing hardcover works and Open PDFs replacing paper pages. This could result in a weaker emotional bond between readers and pieces of literature. It happened with music. The ability to contain mass amounts of music on mp3 devices, hindered the attachment listeners once felt to the music through a physical representation, like a CD. Literature lovers of my generation will surely agree with the logic that a hardcover book, with its fresh smell and untouched pages, brought with it an inexplicably affectionate sensation. That feeling cannot be reciprocated with eBooks.

After Considerable Thought

The renewed love for literature is most certainly a good thing and an unsung positive association with the upcoming generation. However, whether an eBook is a better source for written material is a completely different debate. Perhaps the whole idea of requiring an emotional bond with a book is rather illogical and ignorant of the fact that such bonds are made while reading the actual text, not by holding the work in one’s hand. However, whether reading off a screen is healthier for the eyes and brain is also a matter that needs conclusive research (much has been analysed though, at the moment; the results of different studies are contradictory). Thus for the moment, the conclusion is that due to things still being fresh and findings being inconclusive, further results are awaited in order to form a sound conclusion. You might need to re-read that last sentence several times, and maybe even print it off into paper form to understand it!

About the author: Tahar Rajab is a British freelance writer with a philosophical outlook

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