Corinne Demas: The Writing Circle

November 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Fiction, WritersCast

978-1401341145 – Hardcover – $23.99 (e-book edition available $11.99)

In choosing books for Writerscast, I have been trying to read as many books as possible from different styles, genres and viewpoints, to make an eclectic and interesting selection both for myself and for an audience of listeners.  I suspect that if it had not been for that effort, I simply would never have discovered Corinne Demas and her new novel The Writing Circle.

It’s not so much that this novel is outside the scope of my literary tastes, as in fact, I really like well written novels that explore character and whose narrative is subtle and skillfully enough handled that I can’t feel ahead what is going to happen.  I suppose in one way that just means I like to lose myself in a novel and not feel like I can feel the wheels and levers turning as I follow on.  But I just may not have picked this book off of a book display in a bookstore to read, maybe because it’s a book about writers and that might normally seem sort of self reflexive to me.  Thus the lesson, if there is one, is to remain open to surprises and to not make judgments about a book just from it’s title.  A funny idea indeed.

I definitely enjoyed reading this novel quite a bit.  Corinne Demas is a very fine writer.  I think the word that comes to mind for me is “deft.”  There are a number of characters here, all of whom are important, and the way the story is told reminded me of an ever tightening spiral, as we start from the seeming mundane outside and move ever closer into the lives of these people around a series of events that provides the structure of the book.  This is a very well put together novel.  After reading it, I wanted to rush out and talk to Corinne Demas about the book and how she imagined it, and all the characters (guessing of course that she had been in writing circles herself).

I always feel that when I am talking to a novelist it’s critical to balance between talking engagingly about a book I just read and that I feel excited about, and not giving away too much to anyone who might be listening and themselves eventually read the same book.  That certainly applied in this talk, as we danced around the story outline while talking in depth about the book’s structure and her involvement with these very compelling characters.  That was fun too and I hope listeners will enjoy that balancing act.

Corinne Demas is a talented and accomplished writer – she’s written adult novels, short stories, children’s picture books and chapter books, a play and she writes poetry as well.  In addition, she teaches full time at Mt. Holyoke, which we also talked about a bit in this conversation. 

Lev Raphael – My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World his Parents Escaped

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Non-Fiction

cover_mygermany_150978-0299231507 – Hardcover

University of Wisconsin Press  $26.95

Lev Raphael grew up loathing everything German. A son of Holocaust survivors, haunted by his parents’ suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, he was certain that Germany was one place in the world he would never visit. Those feelings shaped his Jewish and gay identity, his life, and his career.  In “My Germany.” Raphael explores many layers of his personal life, including his visits to Germany, his complex relationships with his parents and his inner self.  My interview with this interesting and engaging writer ranges across a variety of subjects, including the author’s writing methods, a discussion about this new book and his life as a writer, the nature of memoir, memory, and the discovery of self.

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