Monday, March 17, 2008

Shine on, crazy diamond

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: The Hell You Say
Author: Josh Lanyon
Spoiler level: low

I have just started THE HELL YOU SAY by Josh Lanyon and it is so goddamn delightful. In fact, by page 3 the book had moved from the category of “book I’ll read and enjoy and eventually sell or give away” to “book I’ll keep around for a while.” And then by page 5, and people, this is a feat, it had progressed to “book I put pen marks in,” which means I think I’ll never sell or give it away. It was a fast commitment. A couple random ones from that page 5:
“You have no idea what he is, Adrien.” Jake, a ten-year veteran of LAPD, used that cop tone when I exhibited signs of civilian naiveté.

While we waited for our meal I watched him put away two baskets of tortilla strips. He munched steadily, as though he were being paid by the chip, gaze fastened on a wall planter bristling with plastic bougainvillea.
This is such great description - it sets a scene, it builds character, and it's highly entertaining. I love funny, clever writing. So anyway, I've been marking lines and pages in this book. Sort of a writerly OCD thing to do. Mainly, I will return to re-enjoy those passages long after I’ve finished the book, sort of the way I imagine a pirate might enjoy the coins and gems he’s collected, taking each one out of the chest, holding it up to the light. Yarrr, Mister Josh Lanyon!

Okay, here’s another early passage I rather enjoyed, and it gives a sense of the plot. It’s the main character Adrien, a bookstore owner, talking to this Professor Snowden about Angus, Adrien’s employee. Adrien asks if he was aware Angus was being harassed:
Once again Snowden raised the most supercilious eyebrow this side of the royal family. “I was not,” he said finally.

“Apparently Angus and some other kids took a course with you called Practical Magic. Witchcraft in modern society. Anyway, the enterprising little tykes went off and started their very own coven—but I imagine you already know that.”

“Ridiculous,” he said sharply.

“What is ridiculous?”

“Why, the idea that a student—my students—would attempt to put into practice—” He stopped.

I shrugged. He smelled a bit like pipe tobacco, which I like and Masculine, which I wear myself on occasion. I found it just the least bit distracting.

“You think these…classmates are harassing Angus? Exactly what do you mean by harassing?”

“Curses—I don’t mean cussing, I mean threats—I’ve heard a few of the phone calls. Alexander Graham Bell would not be happy.”

The green eyes narrowed. I had to admit that expression was not quite as enjoyable as the way he’d originally looked at me.

When I failed to be razed to cinders, he asked, “What is it you think you can do about this?”
Sometimes the downfall of cleverly written books is that they can be light on plot and character, the way pretty girls can sometimes be light on personality, but that is not a problem with THE HELL, which totally has it going on in those areas. It is strong in every area so far.

In fact, it’s getting so good, it's in danger of moving to the category of “too exciting to read before bed.” I am awash in all these immensely entertaining books. I am on a streak!

I didn’t mark this one so I can’t reproduce it exactly, but there’s this one place where Adrien observes some girl is carrying a Lord of the Rings lunchbox, and he goes, by the way, what is it with chicks and that elf?”

Oh, I don’t know Josh Lanyon, but I secret have a thing for that elf, too, and he’s so not my type. And that line was like this crazy little treasure.


lisabea said...

Welcome, friend, to the secret society of the Lanyonism.

And Adrien is my new BFF.

Love. Him.

Christine said...

I love your 'Great Moments from last night's reading posts'! They are always so insightful and you always manage to make me want to read the book you are commenting on!!!! So GO READ! So that you have more great moments to tell me about tomorrow! ;)

sula said...

Lanyon has this way about his writing. It's lean. It's spare. And he makes it look so damned easy...when we all know that it's NOT. curse him and his mad skilz! No actually, bless him, and keep him writing.

oh and you...keep reading and sharing. Cuz I love these little insight moments. (have you noticed that it's all about me and what I want? lol)

lisabea said...

I just reread my comment and see that, yes, I could not have been more tired when I wrote it. At 9:24 pm. Dang I'm old.

Carolyn Crane said...

LB: I love being in the secret society of Lanyonism. and hey, what do I see next to your name!!! Very nice! I like him.

Christine: Thanks! And yes, I had more eventful reading last night.

Sula: Yes, he does make it look easy. And hey, these moments are all about me, too. I don't have to write a real review.

There is something really weird up with google this morning.

lisabea said...

So all I see is a big B for Blogger (not Bozo as I innitially suspected). Dang. But I put that up just pour vous.

Sarai said...

So that book sounds good. Huh might have to look it up. Glad you had one of those moments last night.

Anonymous said...

Nice excerpts.

lisabea said...

I keep going back to this because, CJ, you rock. I love what you wrote as much as I love this book.