Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crossing Another One Off the List

In my bag, I always carry a small notebook with me and whenever I hear or read something that I want to remember to look into, I write it down in small print with a mechanical pencil.  I've been doing this for years and very rarely do I forget to search for more info about a writer, a festival, a food blog, etc. that piqued my interest for some reason.  When I was defending my master's thesis (almost a year ago now!), my advisor told me about a few different collections of short stories that she had just finished.  I wrote down the names and kind of forgot about them a couple of weeks ago.

On a visit to the library (one of my favorite places ever, by the way), I tried to limit myself to five books but left with seven. I was impressed by my self-control.  One of the books from my list that I picked up is Floodmarkers by Nic Brown.  In his collection, all of the stories are connected by two things: one, they all take place in the same town of Lystra, North Carolina, and two, they all happen during Hurricane Hugo, albeit during different phases of the huge storm that hit the United States in 1989.  I really loved this book.  The characters were well-rounded and realistic, with flaws and genuine reactions to unexpected events.  Some of the main characters from earlier stories reappear as background characters in other stories, which really helped me develop a sense for what this town is like.  Everyone knows everything about everyone.

 (Image from Nic Brown's website)

My favorite part of each story was the ending.  The endings were subtle and ambiguous.  I don't know if marriages survived, I'm not sure if that lady was attacked by a dog, but since Mr. Brown does such a great job of describing his characters in such a short amount of time, I feel like I know them well enough to guess what will happen next.  I strive to end my own stories like that--I like to think that I can trust the reader enough to let them take on my characters and think about their fates. They've invested their valuable time so they have earned the right to think about what may happen to the characters once the story ends.  With thoughts like this, it's clear why I didn't become a scientist or a mathematician--in my mind, life isn't easy or cut-and-dry and the 'what-ifs' are what interest me. 

Floodmarkers left me thinking and I love that.  It was a fast read that wasn't a lightweight and I'd highly recommend it.  I want to know more about Nic Brown and I will definitely look out for his next book.  And with that, another book to cross off of my list!

No comments: