Book Review: “Andrew’s Brain” by E. L. Doctorow

4 Stars

Andrew is a cognitive scientist and academic with a lifelong history of unintentional destruction. The narrative is a conversation between Andrew and — someone. He is — somewhere. At a time that is at —- some point in the future, after the events he relates. He talks about the death of his first child, the courtship then death of his second wife, and other milestones of his life.

I like this book. I’ve vacillated between 3 stars or 4 stars, and am opting higher because I can feel that this book will settle well over time. It took me a long time to care about Andrew, the main character. Caring about the characters is essential for me, and the whole first half of the book I didn’t. Yet I kept going along for the ride because Doctorow’s writing is such a pleasure. Every page has subtly wonderful insights, perspective, turns of phrase, without ever getting flashy for its own sake.

About the time I developed sympathy for Andrew (and not coincidentally) the story takes a sharp left turn. WTF!?! What the hell is this book really about? Hmmm… Okay. You’ve still got my attention…

This book managed to get me to care about events and people I had sworn to think about, nevermore. It’s not perfect and it’s probably not Doctorow’s best work (this is my first time reading him so I can’t say for sure). But it is worth a read.

Note: I read an advance copy from Librarything in exchange for an honest review. Random House will publish this in Jan 2014.

For Not Much Longer: Free Ebooks!

You’ve got a few hours left to take action…

Until the end of July, 2013, you can download free and discounted ebooks from Smashwords, an indie publishing distribution site. I hope you will start with mine!

Get free ebook versions of my novels  Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s  page at Smashwords, where you will find downloads that work with every common e-reader. Use the code SW100 to get each free book.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Summer Promotion at Smashwords.

And – remember to write a review! Readers’ reviews are incredibly important to indie authors.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

Pssst! Free Ebooks!

Until the end of July, 2013, you can download free and discounted ebooks from Smashwords, an indie publishing distribution site. I hope you will start with mine!

Get free ebook versions of my novels  Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s  page at Smashwords, where you will find downloads that work with every common e-reader. Use the code SW100 to get each free book.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Summer Promotion at Smashwords.

Please help spread the word about this giveaway.

And – remember to write a review! Readers’ reviews are incredibly important to indie authors.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

The Lost(?) Art of Editing

I write this at risk of proving myself  to be a total creaking dinosaur.

Those of you who read or produce serial fiction, impromptu flash fiction, NaNoWriMo, book series that publish at the rate of a novel every month or two — and any other writing that  publishes right after inception. Please help me understand its appeal.

As a writer, I see much value to it. Writing quickly helps with flow, tapping the subconscious, and discipline. But — why publish without much or any editing? Doesn’t a pause to edit always improve the piece? (By editing I mean more than proof-reading and tinkering. I mean the act of making changes, some of them wholesale and sweeping.)

As a reader, I don’t want to read an early draft and I only want unplanned ideas when they come from inspiration, not haste.  I like writing that feels crafted. What am I missing?

Hmm. I don’t mind reading a first draft blog post and for that matter I rarely do more than proofread my own posts.  Maybe I’ve just got fiction on a pedestal when nobody else still does. Is that it?

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, 10,000 Thoughts

The assignment: write 1k words about this photo.

The assignment: write 1k words about this photo.

HER: “Did you set the timer?” Did she see me? I don’t think she saw me.

HIM: “Ten more seconds.” Gwen is so withdrawn tonight.

HER: “Oh now I hear it ticking. I couldn’t before.” I think she recognized me.

HIM: “How’s the glaze coming?” Is Gwen angry with me?

HER: “Almost there.” She kept staring at me like she was trying to place me.

HIM: “I couldn’t find the cinnamon.” I should have let Gwen finish the custard. I know how much she loves using the torch.

HER: “This place gets so disorganized on our days off!” I should never have let the blonde grow back, she wouldn’t recognize me brunette.

HIM: “Tell me about it.” It’s not just tonight, let’s face it.

HER: “I prefer the nutmeg anyway.” But my God it was five years ago.

HIM: “Let’s hope they do too.” She’s been distant lately.

HER: “They won’t know.” It was a thousand miles from here.

HIM: “I haven’t seen them in here before, have you?” Or maybe she hasn’t been.

HER: “No. No I haven’t.” I thought I was safe.

HIM: “I think the guy at table 5 writes reviews.” Ever since I bought the ring I’ve been second guessing her.

HER: “Really? Reviews where?” Of all the French joints in all the towns in all the world Gary’s sister had to get dinner in this one.

HIM: “‘Chez Le Monde’.” Second guessing us.

HER: “Wow. ‘The mousse of the century’? That review?” Maybe she’s not in touch with Gary nowadays either.

HIM: “I think it might be the same guy.” I’m afraid she’ll turn me down.

HER: “In that case let’s use  fresh fish for a change.” After all, I wasn’t the only one he hurt.

HIM: “Always thinking.” There I’ve said it.

HER: “What did he order besides the trout?” She hates Gary.

HIM: “The tomato aspic, the cold potato leek, and both kinds of mousse.” Stop examining everything fool.

HER: “If he’s not sampling for a review, that is a scary combination.” But she hates me more.

HIM: “Oops. Can you grab me the parsley?” I need to lighten up.

HER: “What am I, your sous chef?” I know her. Even if she doesn’t tell Gary, she’ll ruin things for me here.

HIM: “I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine.” Nothing looks normal under a magnifying glass.

HER: “Deal.” Robert is such a good man.

HIM: “You about ready with the glaze?” I love her so much it’s terrifying.

HER: “Yeah here it is.” Maybe he would forgive me.

HIM: “Mmm. You’ve outdone yourself.” Maybe I should cancel our trip tomorrow.

HER: “I like the mint from the Thursday market.” For years of lies?

HIM: “Are you shaking?”That’s the beauty of a surprise hotel stay. She won’t know to be disappointed.

HER: “Cramp from stirring.” And what happens when he hears the truth?

HIM: “That’s dedication.” After three years together, what’s another few days?

HER: “Or a slippery spoon.” Could he forgive me that too?

HIM: “Trout smells ready.” Or even months.

HER: “I’ve got the butter going.” I’ll bet he could.

HIM: “I like the quality of the new lights. How about you?” Robert you’re a chickenshit.

HER: “Me too.” If anyone could.

HIM: “Forgot to warm the platter.” I could wait forever to ask if her answer is no.

HER: “I remembered.” But what if he can’t?

HIM: “You always remember.” Maybe she isn’t your woman of mystery.

HER: “I do. It’s true.” I can’t take the risk of losing him.

HIM: “I’d like to reinstate the brioche for Sunday brunch.” Maybe that holding back you always feel isn’t because she has secrets.

HER: “This early?” Maybe I’m overreacting.

HIM: “You’re right, last year we waited until July.” Maybe she’s holding back from me.

HER: “I need a new egg. This one is too light.” Maybe it’s not her.

HIM: “Hurry, please.” I can’t wait forever. I’ll drive myself insane in the meantime.

HER: “Hurrying. Without running in the kitchen, of course.” I think I can see her if I look out the window.

HIM: “Of course.” I’ll ask her tomorrow as planned.

HER: “Aaagh.” It’s her. Oh no Oh no what am I going to do?

HIM: “You okay?” Then we’ll know.

HER: “Lot of leg cramps lately.” I can’t go out there again.

HIM: “Should I worry?” She won’t even look me in the eye.

HER: “Only if you need to.” I need the right excuse to stay back here.

HIM: “That egg a keeper?” She is so beautiful.

HER: “Best egg of the week.” I can’t say I’m sick – I just prepared all their food.

HIM: “Okay. Showtime.” She’s a better chef than I am too.

HER: “Wait. Coconut shavings.” I’ll have to cut myself.

HIM: “How could I forget that.” It’s amazing how humble she is.

HER: “Table 5 has given you nerves.” Not bad enough to need an ambulance.

HIM: “Tonight he gets the mousse of the millenium.” When she says she doesn’t deserve me she sounds like she believes it.

HER: “That has a ring to it.” Just bad enough we don’t want the customers to see me.

HIM: “We’ll each deliver a mousse to him. He’ll love it.” You see there is every reason to expect she’ll say yes.

HER: “Here, let’s send some samples to the foursome.” Oh Robert someday I’ll tell you.

HIM: “Brilliant marketing.” I’ll ask her tomorrow.

HER: “You never know who’s at your table.” Please forgive me until then.

HIM: “Gwen! My God, you cut yourself!

HER: “It’s nothing. Throw me that towel, will you?

HIM: “That’s a lot of blood!”

HER: “Stopped now. But it’s all over me. You’d better deliver the mousse without me.” 

957 words. This piece exists because of this Weekly Writing Challenge.

Spread the Word: Free eBooks! (thru March 9)

Until sometime on March 9, 2013, you can download a free digital version of either Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s download page at Smashwords, where you will find formats for every common ereader. Use the code RW100 to get your free copy of each.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts of either or both, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Read an EBook promotion at Smashwords.

Please help spread the word about this giveaway.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

The Resurrection of C.R.I.M.E. Science

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

So. I’m a writer who didn’t write for a couple of decades. Life is short and I’ve squandered a lot of it. But let’s just say I went in other directions. I tried other things. Certainly the hiatus was worthwhile. I became the mother of twins and completed graduate school in earthquake science. Bu the reality is that I fashioned a life where writing fiction became well nigh impossible, and for a long time I didn’t even try. At the beginning of that long hiatus – before I admitted defeat and succumbed to all the non-writing demands of my existence – I wrote a novella, envisioned as the first book in a detective series. I wrote it, and I shelved it, and I mostly forgot about it. Rhetorical Q: What kind of writer doesn’t even try to get a book published and/or read?

The thing is that I really liked the characters and they kept poking me for attention. So, now that I have resumed writing, I have also unshelved the first book in the series C.R.I.M.E. Science, about a misfit group of scientists and techno whizzes who solve crimes and right wrongs. As of today, it is available on Smashwords in every common ebook format.  Coming soon to additional venues.