Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Book Thoughts: Making It Up

I love reading book reviews. When I worked at the BJ Press in grad school, one of my favorite parts was that we "had" to read Library Journal, The Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly. I had never really looked at those magazines before, and I adored them. I still try to read PW on occasion at Barnes & Noble, along with Pages and Bookmarks, two other magazines about books. And every Sunday morning over breakfast, I read Book World from The Washington Post.

Needless to say, my "Books to Read" list can get quite out of hand. (And this is just one category -- the "Reviewed Books" category. Others include "Books I Discover while Browsing," "Books Recommended by People I Know," "Books I Own that I Must Get around to Reading at Some Point.") Sometimes I'll go a little crazy and check several out from the library at one time, then find myself overwhelmed and return most unread. But occasionally, I do actually read the books. :-) Making It Up by Penelope Lively is one such book.

I had read reviews of this book which caught my attention. Writers are often asked the question, "Do you write out of your own experience?", and Lively says that this book is her answer. She calls it an "anti-memoir" -- a collection of stories centered around the "what if?" question. She takes moments from her life when something could have happened but didn't, and creates a story exploring the possibility that never occurred.

For example, Lively lived in Egypt as child, and when British citizens had to evacuate during WWII, her family went to Palestine. But they could have made the choice to go to South Africa as many others did. Lively fashions a story around a young woman (a nanny) who travels by boat to South Africa during this time period.

This is the first book I've read by Penelope Lively, and I'm far more inclined to pick up another one by her in the future. I found the stories to be intriguing and distinct, each with their own flavor, and yet somehow unified under the organzing principle.


Post a Comment

<< Home