Update on The Junior Officer Bunkroom: I sent the manuscript back to the publisher with the last round of edit inputs incorporated. JOB will probably be a couple of months behind Katt.
Reading. I used to read for one reason: I liked to read books. Now I read for four reasons:
-to learn something.
-to learn about writing.
-because my wife tells me “You have to read this,” to which the autopilot replies, “Yes, Dear.”
-because I like to read.
Under the to learn about writing, I read The Girl on the Train. It had been on the best-seller list with staying power, so I bought it on one of my devices. I got into the story, but by about chapter five, I began to worry over the chapter headings, which include a main character name and day, month, year, and clock time tags. The first part of the book treats two of the main characters but their development tracks to time lines a year apart. I kept going back to previous chapters to check the date and time stamps because I felt I needed to be reminded of how much time had elapsed between chapters that dealt with one character. The characters alternated, so I was doing a lot of flipping back and forth. It got irritating. I had a coupon over and above the discount and B&N member discount and I bought the hard back and put bookmarks at the chapter headings, and started over again. I still found it tough to keep things straight and I finally got a pad of paper and jotted down the chapter time stamps outlining the time lines the main characters tracked. So I’m an anal-retentive engineer in one part of my soul, and maybe that’s why I felt I needed to work so hard to understand the time threads holding the story together and drawing the characters together. Once I started my side notes, the story really clicked for me. I appreciated the innovative story structure (a back of the dust cover endorsement blurb calls it a “clever structure,”). The pacing is also clever. The train theme is powerfully infused through the structure and works into the pacing. I got a sense of a slow train on a track being overtaken by a fast train roaring up behind, and at another time a sense of two trains coming together from opposite directions. Anyone interested in writing, in my opinion, will find the structure and pacing of The Girl on the Train worth the time and effort to study as well as entertaining to read, if you can leave the anal-retentive stuff on a side track. And of course, the character development aspects of the novel are also interesting. As introspective as Mrs. Dalloway. To learn about writing, sometimes, is work-reading, which is different from study-reading, which could be a whole nuther story, which I won’t go into now.