Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Basking in the BookList review

When it takes 10 years to write a book, you have your moments of doubt and uncertainty. Will I ever finish it? Is this even any good? Why is it taking me so long? These are just a few of the questions that circle what you hope is not the dead carcass of your novel.

As I wrote, rewrote and wrestled with plot, there were a few fantasies that kept me going. One was imagining how it would feel to have a published book in my hands (that also included seeing it on the shelves in libraries and bookstores) and the other was thinking about it would feel to read a good review. (In my most doubtful moments, I would make up a review in my head to keep me motivated.)

So first comes the PW review which was great and as I mentioned earlier, a bit surreal. It's hard to describe the feeling of reading about your work in a review, it is close to impossible to be objective and even harder to make the connection that the story they are talking about is yours.

Next up was the Booklist review. Let me say, it helps not to know when the reviews are coming, in fact, it was better to find out during a lunch meeting with my marketing, publicity and editorial team at Random House that they had an advance copy of the review. I like the element of surprise, no time to think about it. So out pops a printout as I sat in front of everyone and read it. This time, that surreal feeling was replaced by a stunned silence and an eerily familiarity -- yes, this review was very close to my imaginary ones.

I folded the review back up and acknowledged how good it was and then enjoyed our lunch. On the way back to work though, I stopped on the street and pulled it back out and read it again as it to confirm I had not imagined it after all.

This review proved something I have always suspected, that anyone who uses the term "tour de force" when describing anything I do, rules my world. (Note: calling me a tour de force with cleaning bathrooms ain't going to get me to clean yours.)

Summoned home after a 10‐year absence by a neighbor's shocking phone call, Cat enters the farmhouse where she wasn't so much raised as pummeled into submission. A delicate lavender sheet of paper waits for her on the kitchen table. Written in precise, cursive script, her mother's suicide note—“He isn't who you think he is"—is diabolically cryptic. Is "he" her father, the abusive drunk who now lays dying in a nearby hospital, or the young son she gave up at birth? Though Cat has long since crawled into a bottle to get away from such demons, her mother's death forces her to relive and confront those nightmarish days when the solace she craved came in the arms of Addison, a young man who may once again prove to be her salvation. Thrumming with a desperate, malevolent intensity, Coyne's debut novel is a psychological tour de force, a disturbing yet ultimately redemptive tale of the burden of secrets and the tenacity of love. –Carol Haggas, BOOKLIST


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