Wednesday, March 2, 2016


The last couple of months have been rather hairy; lots of wonderful things have happened and, some not so wonderful things have happened as well. I've been writing sporadically, but have been trying to keep up on deadlines; so far that has also been sporadic; #IWSG is easier at this time (for you #ROW80 folks who wonder what happened), but I've been practicing more and reading a lot for the language and tone.

Currently, I'm reading two different books that couldn't be more unalike in tone and gravity, but both are simply wonderful. I'm reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King, recommended by a dear friend.      

11/22/63” is so much like the Stephen King of old. It is fraught with suspense and the atmosphere of the 60s is captured perfectly by King, and his language is again beautiful. His characterizations are sharp and he has lost the coyness that pissed me off in his later works. You cannot help but feel for Jake as he tries his damnedest to foil an assassination that will change the world completely. And as Al, Jake's mentor says, “With Kennedy alive, there would be no Viet Nam, no Watergate”, and that lends a desperate quality to Jake's actions, but he's always thinking and trying to stay one step ahead. But, not having finished it yet, I have no idea what the foiling of Oswald's plan will bring about in the present day.                                        

The Fourth Hand” by John Irving, is much like “A Son of the Circus” in tone, which I enjoyed immensely. Irving can take the most absurd situations and make them hilarious, even when they're really pretty tragic. This book involved Patrick Wallingford, or “the lion-guy” as everyone calls him, after he has his left hand bitten off, fought over and eaten by a pack of hungry circus lions in India, while on assignment. It doesn't get any better for Patrick, or "disaster man" when he takes an assignment in Japan and his clothes are “sent for a day to the Philippines, because that always happens”, according to his Japanese hosts. “They are only misplacing, they will be back.” says one of the hosts. They come back, but apparently, the Customs Agents used drug-sniffing dogs and they pissed all over his clothes, so Irving refers to Wallingford's clothes as “pissed on by Filipino dogs clothing” throughout the rest of this trip. Wallingford is used to all of this and just sort of goes along with anything that happens to him.

This is another book I haven't finished yet, but it is extremely enjoyable and Irving's writing is of the type that always makes me laugh. “A Son of the Circus” was just hilarious, even when it was tragic, again.

So, that's pretty much for it for last month. I wrote some on "The Nebraska Creepers" and now have my own special little episode to add. I want to keep the reader in the dark as much as possible as to who are really the good guys and who are the bad eggs. Working through that is a bit tough. I'm not that great at fiction and even worse when it comes to editing. 

The symphony managed to put on some nice concerts, and we are now in rehearsal for “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky, “The Blue Danube Waltz” by Johann Strauss (I forget which one) and Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto. It should be a good one! 


Christine Rains said...

Reading is so important for writers, and you've picked two great books. The beginning of the year was not so great for me too. But here's to a fantastic rest of 2016! :)

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! I certainly hope your 2016 improves. This is really just a bump in the road and the positive always outweighs the negative. What I appreciate about these books is the dichotomy in tone and, of course, subject matter. Irving never fails to amuse, but I was concerned that King was going to be on the same path as "Needful Things" and "Under the Dome". I recently read "Mr. Mercedes" and that was good, so I was glad to see "11/22/63" continue along with the same "good" Stephen King I used to know and love. Thanks again for stopping by! Mary

Linda Jo Martin said...

Hi - I'm new to the group. I was happy to read at the top of your blog that you're not currently homeless. Long may that continue! I have never read a Stephen King novel... I'm interested, though, after reading your blog post.

Viola Fury said...

@Linda Jo,

Hi and welcome to the fun here at #IWSG! I haven't been homeless for several years, but started this blog when I was, in about early 2011. I became homeful in late 2011 and tried to quit writing the blog, but readers enjoyed it and the craziness that goes on around here. When I moved from my Homeless Shelter, I took the brave step of moving across the street. This is truly "da 'hood" and over the years, lots of crazy, funny and tragic things have happened around here. It's an ideal place, although it is dangerous; "The Wire"-type dangerous.

I highly recommend some of Stephen King's earlier works. In particular, books like "The Dead Zone", "The Shining", "Salem's Lot", "Cujo", and "The Stand". I was not so enamored of "It". "Tommyknockers", "Needful Things", nor "Under the Dome". He leans toward the coy with his characters and they become less believable. Of his later works, "Duma Key", Mr. Mercedes". and "11/22/63" are very good. He also has a collection of short stories called "Night Shift" and 4 novellas called "Different Seasons", that I recommend highly.

This is really just a partial list of his books that I have read and enjoyed. If you look at his bibliography, you'll see that he's published in other genres, under pen names and also has written books on writing that are highly, highly useful.

Thanks for stopping by Linda. I'm still playing around with fiction. I won some awards for rhetorical writing and sometimes I think I don't have the creativity that God gave a crabapple! Take care and enjoy #IWSG. They're an awesome bunch!

Lidy said...

Reading is a great exercise for writers. As well as pleasurable. Glad that you're enjoying the two books you're currently reading. Also, have you heard that they're making and premiered an adaptation of 11/22/63?

s/v La Vita said...

I agree with others, reading is a terrific and entertaining way to advance our writing skills. My writing coach encourages me to highlight words and phrases that stand out. Following that advice is the hardest thing in the world. I have this nagging voice in the back of my head that says, 'do not write in books!' Your thoughts about marking up a book?

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! I used to read like a fiend, but over the years and due to some upheavals in my life, I had gotten out of the habit. I realized that I really missed it and started reading again, and first read 3 short books by John Grisham, "The Litigators", "The Racketeer" and "Joe Calico" which were all very enjoyable. I managed to snag a copy of "11/22/63" for .99 off Amazon, which my significant other, who writes screen plays and has won some awards and who also had brought me his copy of Stephen King's "On Writing" at about the same time my "pretend adopted son" Alex brought me "The Fourth Hand". It's interesting reading them both together for the variance in tones, and most enjoyable. To your answer about the "11/22/63" premiere on Hulu? You bet! We're watching it. I hate that we can't binge watch it, like we do everything else, but, life isn't perfect, merely wonderful. Thanks again for stopping by! Mary

Viola Fury said...

@s/v La Vita,

Thanks for stopping by! Yes! Reading is a wonderful way to start looking for your "voice" in fiction, I believe. I agree with your writing coach regarding highlighting words and phrases that stand out, mainly because my day gig is as a violist and ALL musicians scratch around and highlight in their music! When I was in uni, my English prof was adamant about marking passages or writing in margins of things we were reading, so as to remember or become "enlightened", I guess, as to the subject. I wrote a Thesis on D. H. Lawrence, and my scribblings in the margins and highlights are still there. It's also fascinating looking back on what I thought THEN, as opposed to what I would think NOW. I still adore D. H. Lawrence, but I have different reasons for doing so, than I did 25 years ago.

That's one of the things I love about paper books. You can go back over the history you're holding in your hands, if it's a beloved book. I have a book called "The Black Sea" by Neal Ascher. It's a non-fiction book, but I've written in the margins, asked questions of myself of things to research and will never part with it. I love that intimacy with something organic. Although I know much about computers and use them and a Kindle, nothing beats an ink-and-paper book! Thanks for stopping by! Mary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always keep those bad eggs hidden. Especially at Easter.
Sorry, I've not read either book.

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! Those "bad eggs" are most likely thanking their lucky stars that I didn't get my claws into them! I'm sure it will be some time before they see a door that's been blown open and just decide to enter.

It's alright that you've not read the books, Alex. It's something that I needed to get back to, primarily because I love reading, but also in trying to develop some kind of "style". I'm thinking to myself "yeah, good luck with that, Mary!" Thanks again for stopping by!

Nicola said...

I read everyday for a few hours and learn so much about writing - things not to do as well as appreciating how things should be done to create effect. Great post. I haven't read either of those books. Must take a looksey. Have a great week.

Viola Fury said...


Thanks so much for stopping by! It truly is amazing how much we do learn just by reading. Stephen King makes that so evident in his book "On Writing" and I'm really glad I read that and got back to reading. Another great source is "Good Reads" to see what your friends are reading and what they like and don't like and why. I just picked up Dean Koontz's "The Taking" and it is awesome; his plotting, language, references overt to T.S. Eliot and his tacit homages to Lovecraft. There are so many things RIGHT with this book! I put it down and just savor the language. He's truly a master and I am so in awe of his mastery of everything he does. I highly recommend it! Again, thank you for visiting, Nicola! See you at the A-to-Z Challenge I hope, where this year I am doing something a bit different... <3