Monday, September 29, 2008

Write and Wrong


The Writing Class
by Jincy Willett

Every now and then, it's fun to get into a good whodunit. The Writing Class has the added bonus of being a murder mystery set within the context of a fiction writing workshop. If you like writers who play with words and make a lot of interesting literary references, this is a book that will help you pleasurably pass a rainy weekend. The strength of Willett's book is the writing class itself and the genuine writing tips that she passes on very naturally as part of the dialogue. Some of the characters are also really entertaining. The class teacher, Amy, is a more complicated character than we would usually find in as light a book as this one is. I like how Willett unfolds Amy's background throughout the course of the book, rather than telling us everything up front.

The murder mystery itself actually gets kind of tiresome. It seems like Willett got a little stalled in the end and just had to find a way to bring the story to a close. And the reader is ready for it to be over. It moves along great until about the last quarter, and then drags a bit.

One thing I really liked about the book was how this disparate (and in some cases desperate) group of people became a community. So many people out there are searching for a place to belong, and Willett makes it happen for these people in a way that does not seem at all contrived. That was what made it kind of sad, that the murder mystery part for a time ruined the camaraderie that had developed among the characters. Nevertheless, Willett is funny and engaging and I would like to read more of her stuff sometime.

Amy's writing class reminded me a lot of a Tuesday night writing class that I had my senior year of college - one of the best courses ever, anywhere. The instructor was fabulous - she gave us honest and straightforward criticism, but at the same time made us feel that our writing was valued and has potential. I loved it, it made me want to write all the time. And...here I am!

Reverent Reader

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