All Key-ed Up

You may have noticed my blog has been quiet of late. Part of this is a result of busy months at work. But the last few weeks of silence have been for the best of reasons.

Vacation.

I find coming home to the U.S. after living overseas is like a big gulp of oxygen after holding your breath underwater. It’s not that Suriname is such a dreadful place to live. It just feels so good to be home.

This particular trip back was a whirlwind: a day in Houston, a weekend jaunt to the Midwest, down to Key West to meet my family on their vacation, a few more days in various Texas locales, then a week in my hometown on the Texas Gulf Coast (and surfing!).

With all that travel time, I wasn’t going to be caught without a book in my hand.

So one night in Key West, while my dad and twin brothers were being awesome and doing a night dive around an old shipwreck (their tales of octopus, shark, and fish sightings have made me determined to finally get my scuba certification), I was cheerily getting my nerd on at a local bookstore. Continue reading “All Key-ed Up”

Five Magical Realism Novels to Snag this Summer

I may have stumbled onto Magical Realism at some earlier point in my reading life, but the first book I can remember reading from this genre is Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. As a psuedo-Southern girl–Texas falls on that fine line between the Deep South and the Southwest–I couldn’t resist the charm of the novel’s Southern setting and atmosphere. But what really captured me was the book’s unique style, the way elements of magic enlivened the otherwise realistic story in surprising ways. At that point, I didn’t have the literary term “Magical Realism” at hand. But this striking balance between the realistic and the magical kept me buying literally every book Allen has written since.

As you might guess, Magical Realism is something of a sister genre to Fantasy, sharing as they do a theme of, well, fantasy, But unlike Fantasy novels, whose magic occurs in unique worlds carefully invented by the author, Magical Realism novels have magic sprinkled throughout our own world, realistically-rendered. Compare, for instance, J. R. R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and Joanne Harris’s Chocolat.  Continue reading “Five Magical Realism Novels to Snag this Summer”

Travel Writing & Trust

Since I’m currently vacationing in Thailand (hip, hip, hooray!), I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

Recently, I lucked into the opportunity to attend a writing class, my first in years. The course, led by British journalist and author Edward Platt, centered on travel writing. An interesting class, it’s core concept was the idea of writing about place as an emotional, personalitied essence. It was about tapping into a location’s emotional resonance.

Platt offered a variety of ways one might enter into this kind of writing. But of all the advice he offered, it was a concept he briefly addressed in his introduction that most resonated with me:

Trust. Continue reading “Travel Writing & Trust”

“Reports of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

A week or so ago, I stumbled across this Buzzfeed article. The program discussed within, Recovering the Classics, seeks to breathe new life into classic literature by inviting contemporary artists to submit fresh cover designs for these oft-overlooked gems. Upon reading that any artist could submit, I had a brief, flashing thought:

Hey! I dabble in art. And I like books! It could be fun to contribute a cover.

(See above for a few examples of my watercolors.) But then I paged through Buzzfeed’s selection of favorite covers. My immediate response?

Never mind on that whole, me-contributing-thing.

The artists who have submitted designs are brilliant. Not just in terms of artistic mastery, though that’s undeniably present. Instead, what really caught my attention was the dynamism of the covers, the way they captured each novel’s essence. Continue reading ““Reports of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated””