Monthly Archives: March 2014

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

All avid readers have a few books that leave a lasting impression on them. Wether it be a character that touched their heart or a plot that had their heart racing. It could be a book that changed the way they think about a certain subject or a book that was like nothing else they have ever seen before. Somehow, some way, that author wrote a story that touched the reader in the deepest way possible, in a way that will never be forgiven. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is one of those books for me.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain is narrated by a dog nearing the end of his life. The dog, Enzo, has a deep and philosophical insight, free of the judgments humans have clouding their vision. The clarity and pure emotion that Enzo expresses throughout the story as he looks back on his life and the life of his “master” is unmatched. That clarity and emotion come through as we see his master, Denny, struggle through life; hope always lighting the way, but happiness slightly out of reach. Enzo narrates Denny’s story through the unexpected death of his young wife and the resulting custody battle between Denny and his in-laws over his only daughter.

Denny’s up-and-coming racing career completes a full spectrum of emotion. HIs talent brings him rare opportunities, adventurous travels, difficult choices and sure moments of bliss.

Overview

Having read this book over two years ago, I do not have any specific writing critiques for this blog although I remember it to be a smooth, pleasant read. The POV was utilized brilliantly. Stein used the dog’s point of view to introduce humor, clarity and pure emotion. The POV allows a unique distance from the human characters while still expressing the heart-felt nature of the events first-hand. 

Recommendation

The book is sure to touch and dog-lover’s heart. I recommend this book to EVERYONE! 5 stars, without a doubt.

“The Art of Racing in The Rain has everything: love, tragedy, redemption, danger, and–best of all–the canine narrator Enzo. This old soul of a dog has much to teach to us about being human. I loved this book.” — Sara Gruen, Author of Water for Elephants

 

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Writing Prompt: Color

Write a poem or a scene in prose that is filled with color. Describe the color in metaphors and similes. Let the color set the mood of the piece. Let it characterize and describe. You can choose to focus on a single color or many. For example: a poem on red could be about murder and the pool of blood surrounding the body. A poem on green could be about nature.  A poem on black could be about depression. If you want, use the photos below to inspire your creation.

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As always, HAVE FUN and pingback if you complete the exercise!

“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.”

One hundred pages into East of Eden, I am absolutely loving it! The writing is spectacular and I love the way the narrator wanders away from the plot to talk about life, society or whatever he wants. I love the mystery of who the narrator is. We know he is connected to the people he is discussing (some are his ancestors) but he is not present in the plot. The story in no way seems rushed yet all I want to do is sit in my reading chair all night and flip pages.

When I finish this 600-page monster (pun intended), I will post a complete book review. Please check back in a week or two! Until then, enjoy page 71 of East of Eden (below) and check out my previous book reviews here!

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins.
And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare to others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden p.71

Book Review: So Long, See You Tomorrow

Book Review on William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow. Published by Vintage.

This 135-page novel is unique in many ways. The structure, the voice, and the POV all have very distinctive qualities. John Updike’s quote on the back cover reads, “What a lovely book, utterly unlike any other in shape I have ever read.” And he is not stretching the truth.

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Summary

This first-person-POV novel is told from the eyes of an old man looking back on an event from his childhood that left a lasting impression. The narrator, who was not a very popular boy, found comfort in his quiet, neighborhood friend until the day he wasn’t there anymore. The boy’s father was suspected of killing his friend who was having an affair with his wife, but before anything could be proven, he took his own life. After this dramatic small-town event, the boy’s mother moved their family to an unknown city.

A year goes by and the boys have no contact. Until, the narrator moves to Chicago and happens to see the boy in the hallway of his new school. This moment, more than any other, is the moment that haunts our narrator and pushes him to write down the story.

Voice

It’s not so unusual to read a story narrated by an adult looking back on their childhood. It’s so common in fact that I recently posted a book review on such a novel titled Rainy Lake by Mary Rockcastle. Check it out! The unusual part about this character’s voice is his doubtful and anxious tone. His descriptions are straight forward and emotionally flat, as if he is simply trying to tell us the facts of the story.Image

A good example of that emotionless writing is the opening chapter, which tells the reader about the murder from a physically distant place. The first characters we meet—who never show up again—appear nameless in the second paragraph and “heard what sounded like a pistol shot. Or, they agreed, it could have been a car backfiring.” After a few casual sentences of description, Maxwell writes, “The sound was not a car backfiring; a tenant farmer named Lloyd Wilson had just been shot and killed, and what they heard was the gun that killed him.”

The doubtful narrator lets us know that his memory of the time is vague and sometimes missing important pieces of information. He collects all the information he can on the event through old newspapers but they provide only a generic picture.

Later on in the book, he narrates entire chapters from a third person point of view that he admits has little to no factual claim behind it. These chapters delve deep into the friendship of the murderer and his victim leading up to the event, as well as the affair. I cannot recall ever having read a first person narrative that jumps into a section where the narrator is neither present nor has any solid basis of what happened at the time. It was a very interesting choice.

Besides this part, the novel read very much like a non-fiction book. The fictional character even says at one point, “This memoir—if that’s the right name for it—is a roundabout, futile way of making amends.” And that sentence describes the book more than any I could possible compose.

Point of View

ImageThe most memorable part of the POV came late in the story where the POV would slip into a dog’s perspective. After the murder, the victim’s fatherless family leaves the farm but leaves their dog behind. Again, this plays into the narrator’s emotionless, distant voice. Because we are in the dog’s POV, we don’t get a clear view of the family’s sure-to-be-emotional move. We get the facts. They pack up the car, throw a lot of possessions away, lock the dog in the barn and drive away. The dog waits for them to come back and howls and howls when they don’t. The change we see in the once obedient dog when the new owners arrive was the most emotional part of the book for me. It’s worth noting that I felt more emotionally connected to that dog that we only saw for a couple chapters than to the narrator of the story (an effect of the tone used).

Also important to note, is how Maxwell transitioned into this switch from the narrator’s perspective to the dog’s perspective. When he jumps into the fictionalized story of the murder and his victim, he simply tells us what he is going to do and informs us that he has no knowledge to back it up, breaks for a new chapter, and off he goes. Before we jump into the dog’s head full time, Maxwell casually slips in single sentences in the dog’s POV amongst the normal story. These slips in perspective take the jolt out of the complete switch.  

Structure

Because I feel like I’m always talking about structure in my book reviews lately, I’ll keep this brief. So Long, See You Tomorrow’s structure takes a page from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by giving away the dramatic event of the story at the very beginning. We are told about the murder of Lloyd Wilson on the first page and know that he was discovered with a bullet in his head by his youngest son who went to fetch him after he was late for breakfast.

Chapter two throws the reader way back in time to the very beginning of the string of events that led to that moment. Like Romeo and Juliet, it is not about the deaths themselves but about the events leading up to it and the emotional impact it has on the survivors.

Recommendation

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read a novel unlike any you’ve read before. The uniqueness certainly has its devoted fans (this book has received high praise by many) but the style didn’t strike a chord with me. The writing itself would earn 5 stars, but overall, I have to award it 3 stars.

How I found this book: One of my college professors recommended it.

My First Writer’s Conference

This weekend I attended my first ever writer’s conference. It was an excellent experience and this blog is my way of sharing it all with you!

Summary of Event

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Keynote speaker Nancy Carlson

The 11th Annual Bloomington Writer’s Festival and Book Fair took place at the Theatre and Art Center in Bloomington, Minn. The keynote address was given by Nancy Carlson, a children’s author and illustrator who has more than 60 children’s books. Carlson was one of 25 speakers who presented throughout the day and one of 75+ authors who were marketing and selling their books in the lobby. Twenty-two 1-hour classes and panels were offered throughout the day. The classes covered subjects such as writing techniques and trends, marketing and publishing, fiction and nonfiction as well as writing for children and were led by local authors, editors and other authorities in the field. Twenty-one authors were also chosen to read 10-minute excerpts from their published works.

Although the festival was not extremely large, there was a lot to get involved in. One could easily stay busy and entertained throughout the entire 8-hour event.

My Class: Every Good Story Contains a Mystery

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The most luring part of event for me was the classes. Ranging from $13-26, any writer could find a class that fit their interests. I attended a class titled “Every Good Story Contains a Mystery” led by Mike Kalmbach, an author, freelance editor and creative coach located out of Rochester, Minn. Kalmbach argued that any piece of prose should implement mystery (small or large) to keep their reader attentive and interested. He suggested things as simple as describing a closed door or a concealed box in your story, leaving the reader to wonder what lies inside. Reveal something surprising about a character’s past without revealing how or why or when it happened.

Throughout the hour, Kalmbach gave the class writing prompts to write about for a few minutes. For one of these exercises, he showed us a picture of an old door in a large, stone archway and asked us to write for a few minutes about what we might see when we open the door. One of the participants who volunteered to read their writing from this exercise stuck with me. Paraphrasing from memory, this is part of what she wrote:

Behind the door, six people sat around a green felt-covered table playing poker. The four men and two women were playing for large stakes, hundreds of dollars worth of chips piled high in the center of the table. One of them was a murderer.

When stakes run that high, so do emotions. If the murder happens to be one of the players that loses everything, the tension is sure to build. But who is the murderer? That question will be at the forefront of every reader’s mind until the mystery is solved. It is a brilliant technique.

More noteworthy comments from the class:

 In good stories, each character should have…

  • Different perspectives
  • Different reactions and opinions to the events of the story
  • Unique goals
  • Unique skills

Writing prompts can help writers relax and focus their creativity. At times, working on the same piece day after day after day can become draining. Sparking your creativity with an unrelated writing prompt can get the juices flowing again and help you think differently about your main piece.

Ways to improve a slow scene:

  • Add surprising elements to it
  • Add details that hint at something bigger to come
  • Add an interesting train-of-thought from the character
  • Add a powerful emotion to the otherwise dull actions of the characters
  • Rewrite the scene in brief summary to get to more interesting parts quicker (sometimes you simply have to cut it)
  • (Kalmbach shared an excellent writing exercise for this that I plan to share in a future blog)

Story Endings…

  • Should always fit the overall plot
  • Should reflect something from the beginning
  • Don’t want things to end too perfect for the characters

Having a character sacrifice themselves in some way can be an excellent way to raise the stakes. If one character sacrifices themselves, something bigger and better should be yet to come, and the reader will anticipate that.

Book Fair

It was an interesting experience to see authors market and sell their books. Some sat casually behind their table and waited for participants to approach them; others stood in front of the table and actively drew people in to discuss their books. Many handed out bookmarks promoting their published work. I found it interesting how individual authors would summarize their books. Most focused on the plot of the book but other’s focused on genre or the audience they imagined it for. Some of the non-fiction authors discussed what inspired the writings and one of the children’s authors I talked to focused on the illustrations.

Readings

I was surprised by how poorly attended the readings were. For a few, I was the only person in attendance besides the volunteers and individuals who videotaped the sessions. If I had been in involved in the event management, I would have put the readings in a larger and more open area to encourage more participation.

Of the handful of readings I sat in on, all but one simply introduced themselves and read excerpts from their book or books. The other reader, an editor of a collection of stories about individuals who survived polio as children, did not read any except from her book. She discussed her interest in the area and her process of collecting the stories. Her explanation seemed to drag on and repeat itself and even though her excitement was evident, it lacked interest for me and I assume the same for others who lack a personal interest in the subject. I would have preferred her to read one of the more inspiring/interesting stories from her book.

Overall

The writer’s festival was an excellent experience and the perfect size for my first event of the type. I plan to attend many similar events in my future and look forward to each and every one. No matter what you’re interests, finding a way to be involved in a community of like-minded people is a very valuable experience.

To see more about the event, visit the Bloomington Theater and Art Center’s website. 

I made the rookie mistake of not taking photos at the event, I hope you’ll forgive me.

How to Catch a Falling Leaf

How to Catch a Falling Leaf

by Sarah Schneekloth

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The number one rule is it has to be spontaneous.  Planning such a sporadic event is bound to end in disappointment.  Isn’t the whole beauty of life those unplanned moments when something so breathtaking happens you wonder if there actually is a little magic in this world?  Let me put you in a possible scene right now, but don’t you dare try to copy this moment. 

You’re on your lunch break from whatever it is you do on a weekday.  A cool brisk breeze circles the courtyard.  It brings you the fresh scent of fall as people around you trample over brown leaves curled into the fetal position.  You know there is not going to be another warm day this year.  You’re not wearing a jacket today because you refuse to get it out of storage before October.  The breeze halts; red leaves, orange leaves, yellow leaves, brown leaves and a few pristine green leaves float to the ground in a silent symphony. Setting your briefcase or backpack or shopping bag on the sidewalk, you walk onto the grass beneath the lone oak tree.

Before the spur-of-the-moment impulse hits, there are a set of techniques every leaf catcher should know.  One: Quite obviously, you need a tree whose leaves are about to fall.  You’ll know it when you see it, trust me.  Two: Set yourself on the outer perimeter of the tree so all falling leaves will be within sight.  Judging the direction of the wind is a difficult science but if you can master it, leaves will fall into your hands every time. Three: Ready position. This depends highly on your visibility to passerbys and your tolerance to embarrassment but I recommend the low football stance; hands in front, fingers wiggling. Whatever style you choose, be ready to jet.  Four: Whatever you got to do to catch that leaf, do it. Practice is the only true teacher here but quickness and commitment are key factors.  Always be prepared to dive if necessary.  Repeat until successful and never get frustrated.  Five: Hold that leaf in the air and high five all surrounding strangers. Six: Invite others.

And when you’re out there, breathe that fresh fall air. Feel the chill capture your lungs and hold it there, freeze time.  Sit on the soil and lean your back against a thick trunk and stop thinking about time because that seed was planted long before you were born. This tree will celebrate countless more fall birthdays with natural confetti than you will blow out candles. At night the tree dreams of living in endless forests with streams so clear you can see the sun sparkle off the fish’s scales as it flows along with the current. At dawn, the tree wakes with the sun and stretches toward the sky, growing imperceptible amounts each day and by the time your grandchildren lean their backs against this tree, it will be twice as tall and stronger than ever.  At the rate our schedules become increasingly full, I just hope their generation can pencil in time to catch a leaf or two.     

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A Short Story Collection That Looks Deep Into Life’s Big Questions

Book review on Tobias Wolff’s Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. Published by Knopf.

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I think the Los Angeles Times got it right when the called Tobias Wolff  “a writer of the highest order: part storyteller, part philosopher, someone deeply engaged in asking hard questions that take a lifetime to resolve.” A big part of why I write is to try to make sense of those big questions. I do not expect to find clean answers, in fact I don’t expect to find any answer at all, but pondering these life questions through my characters’ thoughts and actions allows me freedom from circling the questions in my head. My characters’ allow the perfect balance of being distant from my mind but close to my heart that allows me to wonder what life is really all about. Therefore, I appreciate and admire authors that do the same.

To begin this book review, I will mention a note or two about each story I read in this collection and finish with a general overview. Although I enjoyed every line of this short story collection, I did not read it cover to cover. I am saving the rest of the 379-page book for another day.

Short Stories:

The Liar

In a first person narrative with that title, you know it’s going to be interesting! With such a title, Wolff is also making it very clear that you should be wary of the narrator’s reliability.

This story is a clear case of a character study. The story focuses solely on a teen boy who is a compulsive liar. Through quick and unique characterization, as well as stories shown to the reader first-hand, Wolff gives the reader a complete picture of this young man.

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Another character study, Soldier’s Joy follows an old army sergeant who has found himself being pushed further and further down the ranks. The soldier’s lack of enthusiasm clashes with his desire to lead and the reader is forced to consider why he is adamant to stay on active duty when he could “retire to Mexico and live like a dictator.”

The Rich Brother

As one of my favorite short stories, The Rich Brother places two contrasting characters together in a tense situation. The brilliant dialogue and ironic humor make the story a very enjoyable read. The two brothers have very different outlooks on life and create a blur when it comes to choosing the more rewarding one.

Once Wolff pushes the two characters’ dialogue as far as it will go and still be fresh and interesting, he brings in a third character. The brothers’ reactions to this third man further emphasize their differences.  Any story with a well-written conman makes an interesting read; The Rich Brother has that and so much more.

Liviathan

The most interesting part about this story is the long narrative of one of the characters who is telling a story to a small group of friends. Typically such a story is paraphrased in fiction but Wolff puts the entire thing in dialogue. Carefully placed side comments from the friends and the characters’ actions break the narrative up in a way that doesn’t pull you away from the verbal story while reminding the reader of the context. All aspiring writers should read this story and pay close attention to how Wolff narrates that scene.

Desert Breakdown, 1968Image

Desert Breakdown takes a close look at how we react in impactful, tense moments. When a young family’s car breaks down at a sketchy gas station in the middle of nowhere, the family is faced with several important choices. At times their decisions are instinctive, other times we see them brood over the possibilities. An interesting, psychological read.

Say Yes

Besides The Rich Brother, this was my favorite story of the bunch! This flash fiction piece puts a married couple under the microscope when a tense discussion about interracial relationships arises while they wash dishes after dinner. The conversation itself was nothing unique but the way Wolff builds the tension in the scene is unmatched. By the end of the story, the reader is in the exact same position as the husband; in the dark with their heart pounding in anticipation.

I absolutely loved this story! I recently wrote a similar scene in my novel and plan to edit the piece in the attempt to mimic Say Yes.

Mortals

What would you do if you saw your own obituary in the paper one morning? Wolff explores this situation when a young writer gets trapped printing an unverified obituary. When the man whose obituary it was shows up at his office, the scene builds tension and mystery. Who would call in a very lively man’s obituary?

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Overview

Wolff has been one of my favorite writers for a few years now and reading a larger sampling of his short stories only reassured me of his brilliance. His ability to create round characters in single sentences, build tension in mundane situations and put the reader emotionally side-by-side with his characters are elements that cannot be overstated. Personally, I try to allow my characters to reveal themselves through their actions but Wolff states his characters tendencies, fears, secrets, lies, insecurities and more in brief sentences that explain a character to the deepest level. Although it can be argued that this trick is better suited for the short story, it cannot hurt to give your readers a quick, concise understanding of your characters in any piece of prose.

Wolff caught me off guard. His sections often ended with surprising information that seemed to come out of nowhere. When he did sneak in these surprising lines, he always left them at the end of a (often mundane) paragraph. Breaking to a new paragraph would have lowered the shock value of these lines because it would give the reader a moment to breath and new paragraphs often indicate a change of some kind.

Recommendation:

I recommend this book of short stories to everyone! Especially those who find their lives so busy that reading a novel seems like a year-long task. 5 stars without a doubt!

How I found this book: As I mentioned earlier, I have been a fan of Tobias Wolff for a few years. I see a lot of what I hope to become as a writer in his work and therefore cherish his books. Choosing this book of New and Selected Stories seemed like a much better option than buying multiple previous published short story collections.

100 word story writing prompt

One of my favorite writing exercises is to write a flash fiction story in exactly 100 words. It requires disciple, carefully chosen details and close attention to sentence structure and word choice. Below is the first 100 word story I ever wrote. Feel free to judge my high school level talent, haha.

I’m challenging you to discipline yourself and write a story that is exactly 100 words long. The only flexibility you have is to include the title in your word count or not. See how much emotion, action, characterization, humor, ect. you can get into 100 words. As always, please share the exercise if you complete it; these are so fun to read!

Losing Brilliant

A young girl walks through a field, yelling out in all directions.  She has lost her best friend and yells out over and over again, “Brilliant!” She thought about that first day at the petstore when she was wagging her tail and staring up at her with those brilliant brown eyes. A tear fell down her cheek as she thought she may never see those eyes again. “Brilliant,” she chokes out as more tears run down her cheeks, “please come back.” She hears a ruffling behind her, jumps around and sees those brilliant eyes staring up at her.

Faith and Love Fight for Top Honors in John Reimringer’s Vestments

Book Review on Vestments by John Reimringer. Published by Milkweed Editions.

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Photo taken from JohnReimringer.com

In a setting close to my heart, John Reimringer explores the life of a priest standing near the edge of cliff. The structure of the novel creates a mystery that drives you to keep flipping pages; first to see what led the young priest to the edge of that cliff and then to see if he will jump. 

Summary

Vestments is a first-person narrative told by a young Catholic priest. The novel opens with the knowledge that after having led a small-town parish for two years, James Dressler finds himself forced to leave his church because of an inappropriate relationship with a woman. Now forced to live at home with his mother and work labor with his harsh father, James spends the summer digging up his roots and trying to see his future through the fog.

The book is sectioned into flashbacks that take us back as far as James’s high school days then move forward through college, seminary school and the two years spent leading his own church. The novel explores the complicated relationships of families, faith, death, marriage and commitment.

The constant struggle between conflicting desires is the heart and soul of this novel. At the forefront, James struggles with his desire to love a woman and create a family of his own or stay true to his vows but there are many more side stories that resonate with the same issue.

Setting

The novel is set in St. Paul, Minnesota and has a very rich and authentic setting. James and his family lived in a neighborhood near Dale Street, he attended college at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and led his church in a small, fictional town in northern Minnesota called Pretty Prairie.

As a life-long Minnesotan who has lived in the St. Paul area for the last three years, I can assure you the setting of Vestments is very real. Reimringer regularly mentions street names, landmarks, local bars and restaurants that any local would recognize. Setting a novel in a real and familiar place can be a comfortable way for an author to focus on other aspects of the story while still having a complete setting but Reimringer takes it further than that. The setting plays a very strong part of this novel, indicating major importance to James, the first person narrator. Whether conscious (by James or Reimringer) or not, a deep love for the city reveals itself.

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The St. Paul skyline with the Catholic Cathedral at the center. I have no copyrights.

As a Minnesotan myself, it added a unique pleasure when a familiar St. Paul landmark was described. Overall the setting worked very well but there were a few times when it was a little over done for my taste. One point early in the novel, James is driving through the back streets of the city with his father and the description of the setting completely takes over. Even with a special interest in the setting myself, this particular scene felt too unbalanced and should have included more action woven into the description.

Structure

As mentioned earlier, the novel opens in the present time when James has been forced to leave the church because of a relationship with a woman. Although we know something happened, the details are unclear and hold an air of mystery. The second section jumps back in time to James’s high school days and unearths his first real relationship. From then one, every other section continues with the present timeline while the others work their way chronologically through James’s younger years until they reach the point where the story began. This eventually reveals why and how he had to leave his parish.

The structure was well designed to keep an element of mystery. By the time the past has completely revealed itself, the reader is now interested in the present timeline and eager to find out what will become of James’s future.

Dialogue

A typical rule of writing dialogue is to start a new paragraph every time a new character speaks. This overwhelmingly common practice is broken at times by Reimringer. I will share one paragraph where I believe it is used effectively.

Before I left, I took Granddad to the grocery, where he had a long conversation with the cashier and called the bag boy by name. When we returned to his house, he spent forever getting the front door open, stooping over his walker, peering at the lock, trying to fumble the wrong key into the slot. When I reached to help, he battered my hand away. “I’ve got it.” “It’s the wrong key.” “I know that!” I rested on the cold wrought-iron rail beside him, like my sister waiting patiently while one of her children struggled into a T-shirt.

Although the lack of line breaks caught me off guard, it caused no confusion. It was very clear to me who was saying what and it kept the summarized scene moving along quickly while adding some direct quotations straight from the characters. I found this to be a very effective trick and will look for the right time and place to use it in my own writing.

Recommendation

Overall, the book was well written with a unique main character and plot line. The dilemmas rang true and Reimringer wove through the issues smoothly but I can’t say anything about the book really struck me as excellent. I chose to give this novel 3.5 stars but I would not disagree with anyone who awarded it more. Anyone who views priests as a cardboard cutout that do nothing more than pray and preach should read this book. Vestments is an eye-opening story that reveals a man’s dilemma between his commitment to God and his desire to create a family with a woman he loves.

How I found this book: John Reimringer visited one of my undergraduate classes as a guest author. The second section of this book was published individually as a short story titled “Betty Garcia” that we read in class. Once I saw Vestments made the list of “Top 15 books set in Minnesota” on CityPages I knew I had to read it.

Experiencing the world in your own way is the first step to creating a unique writing style.

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