Truth is stranger than fiction. I know this for a fact, because I ride the subway every day. While I delight in the crazy characters imagined by the great brains of Jack Gantos or Daniel Pinkwater I often wonder, how do they come up with this stuff? But then I look up from my book only to be astounded by the interesting details being played out on the human stage. Some of my recent favorites? That guy in the coffee shop with the beautifully worn old brown leather journal, the ivory pages covered in the most spidery gorgeous (not to mention illegible) handwriting in black ink; a perfect match to his worn copy of Kierkegard. Then there is the old guy with the steel grey bouffant hairdo and pencil mustache that I see sometimes on the green line – I do not exaggerate here, because this man requires none. There are also gold chains involved and (though I may be thinking of someone else on the green line now) a busty mermaid tattooed on his hairy man arm. Vivid, yes? Or the young woman on the train wearing a worn, long white dress – shades of Miss Havisham.
That said, I know all too well that these superficial details do not a character make. I read an interview with author Mort Castle (whose books I have yet to read, I admit). I got the opportunity to submit a question, so I asked what he thought was integral to good horror fiction (though this could work for any fiction). I love his answer: “Human beings for whom we give a damn.” Well said. The details themselves – the philosophy, the journal, the tattoos, the gown – these are enticing, but there needs to be something beneath that. Something real.
And now…more blog reviews! I can’t tell you how it thrills me to read these:
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