It violates every rule in the book

I just finished reading NORTH by Frederick Busch. It violates almost every rule I talked about in the snarkometer posts we did earlier this week: a dog dies in the first chapter; there's a lot of backstory; the first person narrator speaks to the reader.

It's also a very good book. One thing Frederick Busch does better than almost anyone I can think of us is use action to reveal character. He's not much for telling, despite the first person voice in a story where not much happens. He's brilliant at showing.

Frederick Busch doesn't need me to tell him he's a good writer. He's got a long list of novels to his credit and an illustrious career.
If you've never read him, you do need me to tell you.
Step away from the blog.
Log on to Powells.com.

PS He's not my client and in fact I have no idea who is agent is. He is published by Norton, that I know.


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that of all the rules of writing, the most important is: Write well.

Anonymous said...

In totally unrelated news...from a writing forum of dubious repute: "I wonder if the person running the Miss Snark blog is TRULY a literary agent: definitely spelled definately; commas, periods, question marks all placed outside of quotation marks; and an enormous amount of time spent blogging. Anyone else skeptical?"

Hey, if you believe in God, he exists; if you don't, he doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Where is "definitely" spelled wrong?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Carper- I saw that post, too. And no offense to that particular forum, but the "agent" discussion is perpetuated by people who are, for the most part, more interested in self-myth and scrapping amongst themselves. Those posters are so suspicious of Miss Snark because they're suspicious of anyone who claims to have answers with which they don't agree.

This is one area where a blog is ten times more useful than a discussion forum. Viva Miss Snark! Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Frederick Busch is a wonderful writer. I've read his novel, "Girls." Best author I've read so far at evoking the bleak Upstate New York winters and the camaraderie they engender among the people who live up there. Also has a college campus setting, but through the viewpoint of a custodian/groundskeeper character, rather than a professor, so some very smart, witty observations on social class differences and the behavior of drunk, privileged & unthinking kids. Beautifully written, but it missed being a commercial success, I think because it was not at all uplifting -- you watch the main character's marriage slowly dissolve, as a result of the death of a child, and the other theme is one of those young white girls goes missing, and the narrator's obsession with finding her and punishing the wrongdoers. Too dark and lonely and complex to be "The Lovely Bones." I would read anything Busch writes for his wonderful, sensitive style.

Bill Peschel said...

Question: If you had the first 300 words of North in front of you, not knowing the author, would it have passed the Snark-O-Meter?

Mark Pritchard said...

Frederick Busch is a fantastic writer. I loved his novel "Girls."