#BookWalk – Dropping Quotes Like Bread Crumbs
It is potentially lethal to review the work of fellow authors. South Africans and Americans are especially dangerous because they are allowed to own guns and use them in their own defence. Being a brash and reckless soul, however, I keep seeking ways to review the books of friends and acquaintances, mainly because I very much enjoy receiving appraisals from fellow authors.
So I’ve come up with a new approach that marries some of my favourite aspects of books and reviews. For instance, I like it when a reviewer lifts excerpts from a book, giving the reader insight into style and content, without wasting space by regurgitating a blurb that can be read all over the internet. So that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate: lots of lovely quotes selected from the book at regular intervals.
The thing I love most about books is that, regardless of their quality, they give you access to a world that the author finds important enough to describe or use as a setting. Once you have finished the book, you could say you know the neighbourhood. That means you can stroll back through it and stop on any page to marvel at an observation, knowing how it ties in with the rest of the narrative landscape.
What I’ve tried to do is take readers on a Book Walk. I’d be interested to hear whether this approach offers enough insight into the style and content of the book, without giving too much away. I sincerely hope this will be the first of many ten-point walks, tracking the plot by dropping quotes like bread crumbs, hopefully luring new readers into these novels.
Did I hear a hammer being cocked? Maya, is that you?
BookWalk #1 – The Elephant in the Room – Maya Fowler
“Lilith Fields, what did you think you were doing?” (p. 20) – The lifelong badgering of Lily Fields begins. Will she ever be able to answer that question?
“Look at me, I’m the Sea Queen,” Beth shouts. (p. 38) – Lily’s younger sister already has the confidence to usurp the throne, albeit at play.
I see old music tapes, pens, stamps, badges; the usual boy rubbish. (p. 62) – Lily and Beth explore their uncle’s room and soon discover what makes him ‘special’.
“You can mix cement with Rosie. Is girls’ work.” (p. 89) – Out on their grandma’s farm, the rules of suburbia no longer apply and the threat of violence hangs heavy.
Her whole body is super smooth, her eyes are a brighter blue than mine, and she has no nipples. (p. 104) – Lilith Fields finds perfection and places it upon the highest shelf to watch over her fat-fighting efforts.
Vera is being nice today. “Hmm. Red shutters. That’s sweet, Lily.” (p. 130) – Too late do we realise that the cooler kids we seek to please are unable to resist the thrill of toying with us like a kitten with a frog.
In the mirror I can see what I look like. I think my arms are fabulous now, like a model’s. (p. 164) – Lily works herself to the bone to see the figure of her dreams.
She turns away when she sees me looking. I lurch out of my bubble of sadness and bang my fist on the table. (p. 178) Lily discovers that almost everyone has bitter secrets, and briefly finds solace in sorrow shared.
My mother never tells a whole story. You always need to prompt. (p. 201) The unspoken often hangs over families like a Sword of Damocles, and cries somehow go unheard.
Gracie’s butterfly obsession has made me notice things that wouldn’t have struck me before. (p. 243) Meanwhile, Lily’s younger sister seems to be withdrawing into a cocoon, as if to avoid the inevitable.
(Maya Fowler’s The Elephant in the Room is published by Kwela Books)