Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Other Voices, Other Rooms"

(A Truman Capote title.)

Writers, like singers, are said to have a "voice" (many also have vices, but I digress) but in a different way. A "writer's voice" is his/her writing style. Elmer Leonard - terse, few descriptions, mostly dialogue for example.

Last week at Thurs. Writers, Dale gave me a book he had finished and enjoyed titled "The Circle." He said it was a bout a writing group in Chichester, England, and I immediately thought, "Uh, oh - a British cozy" (meaning largely folksy.) I didn't have high hopes at all. The book was cheaply printed (or so it seemed to me) and the "circle" books have been done nearly to death -- sewing, quilting, knitting ... yes, all familiar.

To my pleased surprise though, it was a skillfully told story about a widowed man with a 14 year old daughter who writes jingles or doggerel because it amuses him. The group sounded congenial in its newspaper ad so somewhat reluctantly, he decides to take in a meeting. "It can only be amusing," he thinks, "just the one night."

As it happens, things are not quite as they seem within the group. In fact, one of them is a murderous arsonist! Not the man who writes fantasy nor the female erotic poet ... not the old dear with an outdated book of "Household Hints for the 20th Century" nor the man with the how-to-garden book.

Each of the members is spotlighted and quickly temperaments, styles and voices come through to the reader. The hero, Bob, is clearly human as are all of the other characters -- it's a skillful writing job and upon looking at the back flap, I see that author Peter Lovesey has won the British Crime Writers Association Silver and Gold Daggers plus the Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement. In the Us, he has received Edgar and Ellery Queen Readers Awards.

From a room in Chichester to one in Redondo Beach ... with a variety of voices.

"The Circle" by Peter Lovesey Little, Brown & Company 358 pages $24

No comments: