Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chang-Rae Lee is Writer's Writer





I have only read one book so far by Chang-Rae Lee, Aloft, which left such a huge impression on me that I recommended it to everyone I knew at the time, (this was about 2 years ago), and started to literally deconstruct the book to see how he so seamlessly put it together -- excellent plot devices, snappy dialogue, and such amazing descriptions that I remember reading passages over and over to myself. I don't do that for many people.

So, I'm excited to have now procured an advance copy of his new book, The Surrendered, which is described on the jacket as: a stunning story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch..."

Laura Miller from Salon.com, writes: "The Surrendered" moves backward and forward in time with an impressive smoothness, nosing out the events that led June and Hector to unite, however briefly, and create Nicholas. Just once, Lee stoops to sheer melodrama (there's a car crash in the book's second half that's a bit over the top), but it's an error of daring too much, rather than of settling for too little, and ultimately, it's forgivable. So are the moments, not frequent, when he strains too hard after writerly gorgeousness, clotting up his sentences with an excess of metaphorical flourishes. In a novel so rich in the hearty pleasures of storytelling, these blemishes are almost endearing, the overflow of a welcome enthusiasm. Also, Lee's reaching does sometimes work, as when he describes intimacy's tentative return to the middle-aged Hector's life, thanks to a tender barfly: "With each night she spent, another diaphanous layer of her presence seemed to settle upon him and everything else, the fine dust of her that he could almost taste on a spoon, on the rim of a glass."

Can't wait to read this and see what he comes up with next.

Tip to Book Enthusiasts Who Can't Wait for the Published Version:
If you go to a good used book store, there's a chance they may have a promotional copy advance copy of the book. It usually says "Uncorrected Proof" or something similar on the cover, or "For Limited Distribution." This version is fairly similar to the final printed one, and is worth getting, as you can read it in advance before all the reviews, and it's usually a less expensive paperback version, although I'm all for supporting authors and purchasing the hardcover version when I can.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate. 

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