Remembering Miss Mandible

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Before we get started, don't forget about Heather at See Heather Write's contest--with confetti! Win a signed copy of Dennis Lehane's "The Given Day" or Anita Shreve's "The Pilot's Wife"!

And a super special thanks goes out to Liza at Middle Passages who put up the nicest post about me yesterday.  For a sampling of her great work, go read this post about a recent trip she made to an Italian Food Emporium.  Her writing is so visual, I promise you you'll be hungry all day.  I'm getting peckish now just thinking about it.

Now down to business.  There's a great old story by Donald Barthelme that I love called Me and Miss Mandible (story at the link).  The story tells of Joseph, a 35-year old former insurance adjuster who, through a clerical error, is mistaken for an eleven year-old and ends up in Miss Mandible's sixth-grade class.  The other kids know the system and have the day-to-day routine down pat while clueless Joseph struggles to make sense of it all, despite his maturity.

Looking at my TBR list last night, I realized I'm a lot like Joseph.  The "A-ha!" moment happened when I noticed how many older works are in my queue.  For example, I am about half-way through re-reading John Knowles' "A Separate Peace".  The copy of "To Kill A Mockingbird" I ordered last week arrived from Amazon yesterday.  Other recent conquests include "Catch 22" and "Requiem for A Dream" (my review here). 

I know, I know!  I need to update my reading list!  But I don't know the first thing about what's hot right now.  The best seller list has never been a good guide for me.  I hear lots of talk about young adult (YA) fiction, and I have to admit I don't have a clear grasp of what's good and what's not in that genre.

Can you guys stear me in the right direction, both for YA and for other genres? 

If I wanted to get a good picture of what constitutes cutting edge publishable fiction right now, what novels should I pick up?  What have you read recently that you liked or thought was noteworthy?

9 bolts from the blue:

Liza said...

Thanks Jon Paul for mentioning me...but it's you who gets the kudos! Our local library has a best seller list and I tend to pick things off that. If I find an author I like, then I read everything I can by that person. If I wrote a list of books close to a style I'd like to achieve in the future, hovering around the top would be Where the Heart is, by Billie Letts. And don't be fooled by the B-list Lifetime movie made from the novel which doesn't do the book justice. It may be more appropriate for a female reading audience but it is charming story about growth and developing strength, not the mushy romance that the title implies.

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks for the visit and the follow!

Since I just found you, I'm not sure what genre you're writing. I write and read YA. I read other genres, too, but YA is my fav. I loved GRACELING, THE HUNGER GAMES (and the second book in the Hunger Games series, CATCHING FIRE), and MARCELO AND THE REAL WORLD. I adore Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series. I'm about to read DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE--I've heard it's excellent. YA is such an exciting and diverse genre.

Have fun on your quest for new fiction. :)

Jm Diaz said...

What genre are you looking for? I can say that Dean Koontz, Karin Slaughter, and Joe Hill are in my most recent likes.

Jon Paul said...

Dawn and JM--

I suppose what I'm looking for are books that will broaden my horizons in terms of market as well as craft. I am anxious to better understand what agents and publishers are looking for, in YA and in other genres.

I've heard of the Hunger Games as being a good starter. And other others you both suggest sound interesting as well. Thanks for the suggestions.

Brian Keaney said...

YA: Before I Die - Jenny Downham, The Knife Of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness, Junk - Melvyn Burgess, The Hollow People - Brian Keaney, Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

Tabitha Bird said...

Thanks for joining up my blog :)

I have read a heap of books lately. Two that stood out for me were "The book Thief" It really deserves all the attention it gets. And "The little book of Rapture." Also a great read and very different.

Jon Paul said...

Thanks so much guys. Those all sound like great recommendations.

Girl with One Eye said...

Yes, The Hunger Games and it's follow up really captivated me. I also loved The Maze Runner by James Dashner, another good dystopia type book. Maybe the Cassandra Clare series, CIty of Bones, City of Ashes and CIty of Glass but these might be too romantic for a guys but there is fighting.

Okay, that's all i've got.

Jon Paul said...

Awesome thanks! It looks like I have my TBR for the next few months.

Waddaya wanna say?

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