Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Although I have no data to support this assertion, I'm persuaded by personal experience and anecdotal evidence that the journalist's most common alternative career fantasy is to be a novelist. I didn't get my start in journalism with this goal in mind, hoping newspaper work would be a start for me as it was for Hemingway. But since "retiring" from the news grind, I've harbored an ambition to turn to fiction and made a start on a novel.

Some literary works make me doubt my ability to ever join the ranks of novelists. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, for example, made me want to disavow writing of any sort forever and simply be grateful that I could read hers. But then a novel such as Sisterland comes along and I have hope again: I could do better than that!

I would've probably abandoned this plodding tale of domestic minutiae after about the third description of diaper changing, but it's next month's selection for my book group, so I persevered through all 400 pages. When the main character spends much of her narrative time describing how dull her daily life is (aside from her psychic ability to "sense" the future), the reader has a foreboding that something uncharacteristically exciting will soon happen. This reader was sorely disappointed.

Because I want to move on to something better immediately, and The Goldfinch is beckoning on my coffee table, I'll say no more. Although perhaps I should resume writing my own novel before I read The Goldfinch and risk courting more discouragement.

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