What to do with that extra half-can of coconut milk —

Which I know is a frequent problem for everyone, right?

Anyway, I threw together a Thai curry last night (ground turkey and snow peas, mainly; it was very good) and thus wound up with half a can of coconut milk left over. Coconut doesn’t keep well, so I needed to get it used up. I could have made Thai coconut rice, but I wanted to use the coconut milk for breakfast. I could have made coconut-chocolate-chip scones, but actually I have some in the freezer right this minute and making more seemed a little much.

So I made coconut-chocolate-chip pancakes. They were great! Here you go, in case you want a breakfast treat and happen to have half a can of coconut milk sitting around. This makes enough for two people. If you have more people, then obviously there’s no need to wait until you have a leftover half can of coconut milk — just double the recipe and enjoy!

1 C flour — I used 1/2 cup all-purpose and 1/2 white whole wheat
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut — about. I just threw some in.
1/4 C mini chocolate chips — again, that’s approximate
3/4 C coconut milk — I used Chaokoh brand\
1/2 C water
1 egg
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp vegetable oil — I just poured some in, I think about 2 Tbsp

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Crumble in the flaked coconut and stir in along with the chocolate chips.

Whisk together the coconut milk, water, egg, extracts, and oil. Whisk quickly into dry ingredients.

Dollop into hot electric skillet or griddle or whatever you use for pancakes and cook in the ordinary fashion. This batter is rather thick, which is how I like it, so don’t wait for lots of bubbles to appear before you turn a pancake. Maybe just a couple of bubbles around the edges, or just peek underneath a pancake to see if it’s ready to turn.

With the sugar and coconut, these were sweet enough for my taste to eat plain. I would hesitate to pour syrup on them. I don’t think they even needed butter.

If you try these, I hope you enjoy them!

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The WIP is progressing!

Yay!

I fully expect to finish the continuity-smoothing today and tomorrow, then some extremely tedious polishing over the weekend and I bet I can send it back to my agent on Monday. Yay again! That was surprisingly fast considering that the changes involved completely rewriting chapters five and six and substantially re-writing chapter seven — and that I had any number of dog shows on the weekends for this whole re-write period.

(Kenya has won Winners 4 times this fall, in case you’re interested, and is now up to seven points, including one major, so she’s officially halfway to her championship. Last weekend this glamorous German import beat her on Saturday, but Kenya turned around and won on Sunday, so that was satisfying. Speaking perfectly objectively, the other girl has the more glamorous head and shows better, but Kenya definitely has the better croup and tailset, so it comes down to what the judge cares about and whether Kenya shows halfway decently. One more show weekend this year! It would be FABULOUS if she got her other major!)

Okay, so already making plans for what to take off the top of the TBR pile on Saturday! Or Sunday! Or, hey, Monday at the very latest! I might even take off all of Thanksgiving week before getting back to work; doesn’t that sound perfectly justifiable?

I like to take two days minimum to read a book, because I just enjoy it more if I stretch it out a little, so that limits the number I can expect to get through in one week. Right now I’m planning on:

Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn — Sharon has told me about the mixed reader responses this one has gotten, and I’m really looking forward to reading it and seeing what *my* response it, so it’s definitely first in line.

The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths by Martha Wells — I *really* loved The Cloud Roads and was just waiting for the third book to come out before diving back into this beautiful, evocative world.

But then what?

Do I want to read The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, by Jemisen? They’re supposed to be SO GOOD. Am I in the mood for a complex new world and books that are REALLY GOOD? Maybe I’d rather put those off and read —

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
by Sarah Addison Allen? The first book I read of hers, The Peach Keeper, was a lovely little gem of magical realism, sweet without being saccharine, easy to fall into and impossible not to love. I instantly bought this one, and maybe a contemporary-ish magical realism story is just what I’ll want after Martha Wells’ baroque fantasy world?

If I have time, I wouldn’t mind picking up The Raven Boys by Stiefvater. I haven’t read any summaries or reviews of it, so I have no idea what to expect from it, except quality.

Ah, choices, choices! Anticipating a great week next week! Luckily I already have a good supply of fabulous chocolate.

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Who are the really essential fantasy authors?

I mean, once you get past Patricia McKillip, who else is utterly essential? If you met someone who had just discovered fantasy as a genre, who would you instantly recommend?

I had a neighbor once tell me she’d tried fantasy and didn’t like it. A moment’s questioning revealed that’s she’d only tried a couple fat fantasies that were popular but not actually good — I don’t remember which, but things like The Sword of Shanara, you know?

I handed her THE CHANGELING SEA and she stayed up way late to finish it and was completely converted to fantasy as a worthwhile genre. I still remember her asking the next morning, “Are there more like this?” Lucky for her, yep, plenty!

But who would you recommend after McKillip?

For me the MUST READ list would include:

Peter Beagle — The Last Unicorn and A Fine And Private Place

Lois McMaster Bujold — The Curse of Chalion

Emma Bull — War for the Oaks — she was doing paranormal romance before it was a fad genre! But I don’t know, one could hardly say that Emma Bull is one of THE fantasy authors, right? Because she hasn’t written enough? Or is it legitimatize to include authors who aren’t very prolific if they’re good enough? After dithering a bit, I decided the heck with it, this is a great book and I’d include it.

CJ Cherryh — Fortress in the Eye of Time, maybe The Goblin Mirror

Susan Cooper — The Dark is Rising series

Diana Wynne Jones — The Power of Three, Dogsbody, the Chrestomanci books

Barbara Hambly — Dragonsbane — but I don’t know, the later books in the series aren’t necessarily ones I’d recommend. And Hambly’s written some that aren’t very good, imo, as well as many that are excellent.

Barry Hughart — Bridge of Birds and the other two. Again, he may not have been very prolific, but everyone should read Bridge of Birds!

Guy Gaviel Kay — Maybe The Longest Road trilogy? Or, for me, Under Heaven is one of his best.

RA MacAvoy — Tea With the Black Dragon and Lens of the World

Robin McKinley — The Blue Sword and Sunshine For me, anything new by Robin McKinley is occasion to celebrate.

Juliette Marillier — Daughter of the Forest

Margaret Mahy — The Changeover

Ann McCaffery — The original Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. I know, I know, McCaffery has written some AWFUL books, but I still think her first Dragonrider ones and some of the others are really good.

Elizabeth Moon — The original Paksenarrion trilogy

Tim Powers — On Stranger Tides; if someone doesn’t like that one, don’t you think the probably wouldn’t like Powers? Or would you recommend something different?

Sharon Shinn — The Safe-Keeper’s Secret trilogy; and then maybe The Shape-Changer’s Wife if they loved McKillip, or maybe Mystic and Rider if they leaned more toward adventure and less toward beautiful language.

Maggie Stiefvater — The Scorpio Races, which feels like I’m cheating because Stiefvater is hardly a classic fantasy author, she’s too new, but she’s so good that I can’t leave her out.

Judith Tarr — Lord of the Two Lands

Patricia Wrede — The Talking To Dragons series, Sorcery and Cecilia.

What do you all think? Have I totally missed somebody crucial? I would never recommend something I didn’t like, no matter how influential it was or how many awards it won, so nothing like The Chronicles of Thomas Covenent is on here. So a reader who might like a grimmer sort of story is out of luck with this list, but there you go, all lists of this kind are going to be personal, after all.

And I’ve assumed that YA and adult are both going to appeal to any fantasy reader, which I think is true if the books are really good. And I guess I’m assuming that absolutely everyone’s either read Tolkein or at least seen the movies — though I certainly don’t think the movies substitute for the books. (Though they were REALLY GOOD, weren’t they? I’m looking forward to The Hobbit this December!)

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Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, and other Bujold thoughts —

I agree that it was just about perfect for Ivan; the manic tone of most of Miles’ books wouldn’t have worked well for it. I already expect to reread it soon. I always love rereading Bujold’s books!

Funniest line? I vote for:

“Good heavens,” said Illyan. “I certainly hope no one was injured!”

Or at least it was something close to that. You have to read the book to find out why it was so funny! I’m chuckling again now just thinking about that.

In some ways, I’m surprised Ivan and/or Tej didn’t figure out a way out of their, um, predicament. But in others, not surprised at all; I can see that By needed to be brought back in to the plot.

I loved watching Gregor in action at the end. I always love watching Gregor in action. Especially that time Nikki called him for help, remember that? Wasn’t that fabulous?

I agree that Bujold is probably done with this universe, but I do think that’s a pity. I’d like to see her go back and fill in some gaps. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a book or three set at the time of the Cetagandan invasion? Plus, if she wasn’t bored with it, there would be any number of Miles books that could be dropped into the middle of the chronology somewhere. Alas, I think it’s pretty clear she doesn’t intend to do anything of the kind.

Of the three Chalion books, I have to say, I really did like THE CURSE OF CHALION best, and THE HALLOWED HUNT least. But I did love all three and I too vote for Bujold dropping everything else and writing the other two that are supposed to be in that series, ASAP.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing more books in The Sharing Knife world. I know not everybody liked them, but I find them very comfortable, a real pleasure to re-visit on a quite frequent basis when I don’t have the time to spare to read something new. I particularly like the later ones in the series. If you read the first couple and then quit, really you should pick up the series again and go on with it. I doubt Bujold plans to write any other books in that world, I think she left the characters in a good place, but I’d love to see more.

I wonder what exactly she actually is working on now? I don’t think I’ve seen anything about that lately.

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The best fantasy writer in the world . . .

. . . is clearly Patricia McKillip, right? Right!

I bring this up because of this post by Kristen over at Fantasy Book Cafe.

Can you believe that Kristen had NEVER READ ANYTHING by Patricia McKillip? Me neither! Has everybody read the Invisible World collection by this time? I have, even though, like Kristen, I am not normally interested in short stories and have trouble reading more than one at a time.

It’s very interesting to see which short stories popped out for Kristen.

Just as a reminder, here’s a list of all the short stories in the collection, many of which I hadn’t read before:

Wonders of the Invisible World
Out of the Woods
The Kelpie
Hunter’s Moon
Oak Hill
The Fortune-Teller
Jack O’Lantern
Knight of the Well
Naming Day
Byndley
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Undine
Xmas Cruise
A Gift To Be Simple
The Old Woman and the Storm
The Doorkeeper of Khaat

Kristen picked out “The Kelpie”, “Naming Day”, and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

I loved all of those, but you know which one was absolutely hands-down my favorite? “Oak Hill”. It instantly made me want to steal the protagonist and some aspects of the setting and write a novel, if McKillip isn’t going to. Which, seriously, I wish she would!

If you’ve read the collection, which is your favorite?

And whether or not you’ve read the Invisible World collection, what’s your favorite McKillip of the novels? I’ll start: Without question, the two greatest Patricia McKillip novels ever written are . . . drumroll . . .

THE BOOK OF ATRIX WOLFE

and

THE CHANGELING SEA

I’ll be interested in seeing which ones the rest of you pick!

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Recent reading, and ‘reading’

Okay!

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I read GUARDS! GUARDS! by Terry Pratchett. This finishes up ALL the Sam Vimes books, which I either read or listened to in the past few months. As it happens, I started with SNUFF, so then I went on and listened to / read the rest of them in reverse order, which in case you’re interested is:

SNUFF
THUD
NIGHT WATCH
THE FIFTH ELEPHANT
JINGO
FEET OF CLAY
MEN AT ARMS
GUARDS GUARDS

I’d read NIGHT WATCH before, several times, but I was saving most of the rest to get as audiobooks because I discovered that Terry Pratchett is fabulous in audio format, easily the best author I’ve ever listened to. (Though it turns out that GUARDS GUARDS is not available in audio format, at least not in this country, so I wound up getting that one in paper.)

And btw, you want the ones narrated by Steven Briggs, who gets everyone’s voice exactly right; I really did not like the narrator for MEN AT ARMS, who gave Vimes a weird nasal voice and Angua a terrible stuffy deep voice that didn’t work for me at all. I didn’t think the narrator would make such a difference, but it did.

These books span quite a time period, right? Actually, a nice even decade. GUARDS GUARDS came out in 2001 and SNUFF came out in 2011. I thought I would very likely like the later books better and I was right. I think the social-satire-disguised-as-fantasy thing, which Pratchett has patented, is indeed better developed in the later books. Though there are signs of it in the early ones, definitely.

What I didn’t expect: who would have guessed, working backwards, that Sam Vimes is actually not the main character for GUARDS GUARDS or MEN AT ARMS? Did everybody know that but me? Maybe if I’d gone in forward order, I would have liked the early books better, rather than being a little disappointed in them?

I mean, I did like both the earliest books. I really did. And I liked Carrot well enough as a main character. But the basically incompetent Sam Vimes of the early books, the man who shows flashes of competence when sober, is NOTHING compared to the competent, dedicated, teetotaler Sam Vimes who takes over as the main character starting in FEET OF CLAY.

Also, I had a particular issue with MEN AT ARMS, which I didn’t expect. Because the idea of guns as evil doesn’t resonate with me at all. I can see how a British author might go that way, but really, this feeling that weapons that depend on your personal strength are fine but weapons that anybody can use are evil? Are you kidding me? I’m much more into the the “God made men, Sam Colt made men equal” idea. Believe me, I’d much rather depend on my gun than my black belt if I ran into an ax murderer while hiking. MUCH.

And I like Vetinari much better in the later books, too. He doesn’t seem quite right to me in the earlier Vimes books. Actually, I think Vetinari reaches perfection in GOING POSTAL and MAKING MONEY, which I would grab in audio format now except I’ve already got them in paper.

So, too bad I’m out of Vimes books! But I also have the Death ones now, all in audio except for REAPER MAN which I’ve had for years and just love; and the Tiffany Aching ones, all of which I have in audio. Those will get me through quite a lot of dog show driving! Though I think I may take a break and listen to something non-Pratchett this coming weekend.

I’ve given some thought to what I appreciate in audiobooks and I think that what matters to me is a) the book must actually be good, but also b) it must be fast-paced, and c) it helps if it has snappy dialogue.

For audio other than Pratchett, I’ve therefore turned to YA. I have two YA downloaded right now: THE PRINCESS ACADEMY and I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS. I’ve burned both to cds so I can use the navigator on my phone and listen to a book at the same time. Each is a mere six cds, which is actually about perfect for the relatively short drive to this weekend’s show. Don’t know which I’ll listen to. Both the reviews linked above make their respective books sound excellent.

In the meantime, though, and taking a break from audio, I’m definitely reading CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE, which arrived last night.

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Okay, yeah, slightly distracted this weekend.

I thought I would have SO MUCH TIME to work on my WIP this weekend. Stuck in a hotel! With hours and hours of free time before and after show events! And I didn’t even bring a book with me, so see how committed I was? Only:

a) I was showing Pippa in Rally AE (Advanced/Excellent, you need to double-qualify for it to count), and so I actually did spend a little time Friday evening working with her in the lobby. She doesn’t need much practice, so that didn’t take long. But then it seemed only fair to take the puppy, Folly, down for some one-on-one practice. She was actually pretty good, so I almost wish I’d entered her in Novice. But honesty I haven’t had time to train anybody. Thus Pippa, who doesn’t need training to do fine. (she got scores of 88, 87, 93, and 86, btw. You can assume that she’s the one losing two to four points, and I’m the one losing ten points at a time for handler errors. She’s the only dog I have who can learn a new exercise in 15 minutes before the show and then do it right.)

b) I was showing Kenya in the breed ring, so there’s an hour of prep work right there, what with touching up her feet and ears. All that touching up and fussing with shampoos and blow dryers and special brushes didn’t help, this time, alas. Both days were exactly the same: this nice tri girl won Winners, Deb’s Sophia got Reserve, Shawn’s Reese got Best Puppy, etc.

c) Somebody’s dratted German shepherd barked well into the night. I retaliated by encouraging my girls to bark hysterically at nothing way before dawn. Well, no, actually I just found the white noise generator on my phone, but I suspect this is why I slept almost till seven in the morning. For me that is VERY late. I totally expected to have two extra hours to work on my laptop on Saturday morning, but no.

d) I went to dinner on Saturday with Deb and her husband, thus blowing most of the evening.

e) Sunday morning was the rush to get out of the hotel room on time, plus prepare Kenya for the show ring, so no way to work on anything then.

Despite everything, I did get some work done. Finished the new! improved! Chapter 5. This is the THIRD completely different version of Chapter Five, which is a record for me. Now working on the new, improved Chapter Six, which will carry me straight into the back half of the ms, which is not changing much at all. I’m not losing as much length as I’d hoped, though, the new draft will probably come out at 115,000 words which is a slight improvement.

Big question now: can I finish the new Chapter Six by this coming Friday, Nov 9th??? If not, can I possibly get it finished by Monday, even though it’s another show weekend???

Well, I think I can about guarantee I can have the whole thing sewn up by Thanksgiving, though, which is fine.

In the meantime! I am also moving hundreds of books out of the library into the study (dusting in the process), then shifting hundreds of books around in the library (more dusting). Next trick: finding a place to build a small additional bookshelf. It’s either that or getting rid of about 100 paperbacks, which would be painful and probably leave me constantly reaching for a book I discarded. But! The ENTIRE TBR PILE is now ON SHELVES instead of actually on the floor. There’s an accomplishment!

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Oh, hey, yeah, it’s almost November!

a) I need to find my t-shirt that says: I DON’T DO COSTUMES. Even though that message is a little less true than it used to be, as witness this:

There; I hope you appreciate that this is the first costume I’ve worn in probably twenty years. Maybe thirty. We all dressed up for a “meet the breeds” event. I am actually quite tempted to get this costume out and wear it to work tomorrow — as an excuse to bring a dog to work! I think that would be fun, and not TOO distracting, since Pippa or Adora would pretty well settle down after a little while and just go to sleep. I admit the puppies would be more trouble!

b) Gosh, look, the election’s right around the corner! Actually, I have been a real political junkie for the past month, following all the polls and checking in on political blogs several times a day. I will be very, very happy after the election’s over. Provided my guy wins, of course.

c) Not trying to imply this is equally important, but HEY, LOOK, THE NEW BUJOLD IS ABOUT TO ARRIVE ON DOORSTEPS EVERYWHERE. Can’t wait! This will certainly interrupt my work on my own WIP. One must have priorities! Actually, I am glad to report that the WIP is moving right along. I told my agent I’d probably have it back to her before Christmas, but I am now betting I will turn it around before Dec 1. I worked out the next bit of the new scene this morning while walking dogs! Yay! I think I now know ALL of the rest of the new parts AND how to link them up to the old parts. Double yay! Fortunately, the new Bujold will not arrive until I have had time to make sure I know where my own ms. is going.

d) And . . . NaNoWriMo is upon us! That, I really had forgotten about until I saw this post.

I am actually pretty impressed with anybody who writes 50,000 words in one month. I’ve done it . . . um . . . three times? I think it’s three. As, of course, part of writing a longer work, not as a deliberate NaNoWriMo thing. But I therefore know that it can be done, but it’s not a piece of cake. It’s a little more than 1500 words per day, which is about five pages a day, which doesn’t sound like that much until you try to do it every single day. Apparently nearly 15% of those who start NaNoWriMo succeed, which is awesome.

I enjoyed the NaNoWriMo advice at the post above. For once I agree that writing an outline might would be helpful, because if you don’t know where you’re going, good luck keeping to that kind of output. It’s important not to stall out in a plot hole if you’re going to make it to 50,000 by the end of the month.

The read-before-you-write advice wouldn’t work for me AT ALL, though, because I know from plenty of personal experience that I will DEFINITELY finish any book I pick up, even if that means totally blowing my writing minimum. No fiction while trying to make a deadline: it’s a rule. Luckily, I don’t have a deadline right now, so the Bujold is definitely on my read-it-instantly list as soon as it arrives.

Anybody ever tackle the NaNoWriMo challenge? Anybody tempted to tackle it this time?

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Been a while, let’s check in over at —

The INTERN.

Who is really the debut author Hilary Smith.

Now, I see that Hilary’s first book is called WILD AWAKE, which is a great title! And she has several fun posts about her book’s cover release. For one thing, she seems to have recruited the venerable Lao Tzu to help her out:

“Greetings! It is I, Lao Tzu, ancient poet born from a shooting star, here to analyze the mystical significance of this Cover Reveal. Hilary tells me most modern people no longer bother to consult a sage about the details of their book launches; this is a very big mistake! Most supremely unwise! Most contrary to the Way! Without the wisdom of sages, how will you know the true meaning of anything? Lucky for Hilary, I came back from outer space just in time to drop some wisdom on WILD AWAKE.”

Actually, Hilary’s blog kind of makes me want to read her book regardless, but reading about WILD AWAKE would make me think about picking it up even if I’d never seen her blog. It’s apparently contemporary YA and I can see her doing that really, really well. There’s no description as yet on Amazon, but I gather the back cover copy is this:

“Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.”

I might enjoy that! Having a murder mystery involved is a big plus for me, since it guarantees the book will have, you know, a plot where something happens.

Also! Way down at the bottom of her current posts is a really interesting post on what causes conflict to not work in a book. Well worth reading!

Hilary also does freelance editing, see, and what she says is:

One of the most cited reasons agents and editors give for declining manuscripts is “there wasn’t enough conflict” or “the stakes weren’t high enough.” For this reason, writers have learned to pile on conflict—checking for internal and external tensions in every scene, giving each character a backstory wound, defining clear and compelling story goals, etc.

But while these strategies can and do lead to stronger story telling, they can also backfire in confusing ways. Over the past six months, the freelance editor version of myself has noticed a peculiar phenomenon: manuscripts with loads of conflict that are nevertheless deadly boring.

“What’s going on here?” I found myself thinking again and again. “There’s so much drama, but I don’t give a tinker’s damn.” (No damns at all! Not a one!)

And then she goes on to describe various ways that cause conflict not to work in a story. I will list those ways briefly here, but seriously, the whole post is very interesting and you should go read it!

a) The conflicts involve all the characters except the main character.
b) The conflicts do not relate to the main goal of the main character.
c) The main conflict that arises from the angsty backstory does not relate to the present story.
d) The conflict fails to escalate.
e) New episodic conflicts get piled on, but since they’re not related to one another, there is no sense of building drama.

I’m going to try to keep these problems in mind when I think about why a book doesn’t work for me. The one that springs most forcefully to mind is (e) — I certainly can think of books like that! I think of it as a problem with plotting — scattered versus tight plot. I admire a story where all the problems arise as spillover from one central problem — that’s tight plotting. A good example is MIDSHIPMAN’S HOPE by Feintuch, a great book with sequels that mostly aren’t as good, unfortunately. But one reason the book is fabulous is that all but one of the various problems that get piled on the main character, do in fact arise as a result of one early problem that continues to have repercussions all the way through.

So — The INTERN: still worth checking out from time to time, despite the long hiatus from blogging. Plus — Lao Tzu!

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A great post on literary fiction as a genre. No, really.

I know, I know, kind of done-that-been-there. Everybody’s tired of talking about literary vs. genre and probably even tired of talking about literary AS a genre, but this post is really fun, even if you never read literary fiction.

Edan Lepucki writes this: “Literary Fiction is a genre: a list” — and then goes on to list some popular or even necessary tropes in literary fiction, and speaking as someone who (almost) never reads literary, it is funny. I must admit that it also reinforces my desire to avoid literary fiction, including this novella by the author:

“You’re Not Yet Like Me”

About which we find this comment at Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars A voice-driven story that gives Carver a run his money November 15, 2010
By Andres Jaramillo

Lepuki’s very short book is a captivating story driven by voice. The insufferable protagonist is a plain, self-loathing girl with an incisive power of observation and the unfiltered honesty and (unreliable) self-awareness of very intelligent but unmotivated people. The character takes us in the second person singular through a fleeting and unremarkable love affair (that none-the-less changes everything). It is a very American story in that it takes an everyday subject, plain characters, and the quotidian of events that are unremarkable to the flat eye of the untrained observer and turns them into well-lit, textured pages filled with wisdom and insight about life and emotions, by focusing a mature writer’s eye on the significance of these events, and taking them far by the sheer power of the voice and the writer’s turn-of-phrases and turn-of-images.

Which makes me feel some interest in the style (second person? really?) but also makes me feel like I would absolutely detestthe story. A self-loathing protagonist: run away! Run away!

Now, Edan Lepucki lists these tropes for the genre of literary fiction:

a) The long title, particularly the second person long title, such as No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Or the long title with a complete name in it, like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

b) Adultery, with an optional side of abortion.

c) Scene, Exposition, Scene, Flashback, Scene, Cue Epiphany

This whole section, about the standardized structure of literary novels, made me laugh.

d) A dog barks, someone eats a watermelon, a car drives away

This section made me laugh again, more. Lepucki says: “In literary fiction, there is so little event, authors need that dang dog [to show time passing]; without it, there’s only the mind, there’s only emotion, and the reader is floating in a vacuum.”

e) related to the barking dog: the fifth identifiable trope is that nothing happens. Wow, sounds just like romance, only with even LESS happening. I’m so dashing right out to read literary novels.

Or not.

But it is a fun post, and actually it almost makes me sort of want to read some of the literary fiction Lepucki cites. Especially the second-person novels. Writing in the second person! Is that a gimmick, full stop, or could that actually work?

The problem is the trope Lepucki doesn’t mention: unlikable self-loathing protagonists. I can’t deliberately read a book with that kind of protagonist, even to watch somebody handle second person in the most creative way possible.

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A great post on literary fiction as a genre. No, really. Read More »

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