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Oh, this is a good one!

I wish I could:

1. plot a memoir. Recently, I've really enjoyed "Brother, I'm dying" by Edwidge Danticat and "Mountains beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder. (Both, curiously, take place largely in Haiti.) How do Danticat and Kidder structure their books so perfectly, so naturally?

2. reflection. I'm so impressed when writers can just spin on an idea and stay patiently with it.

3. I love the way Susan Orlean brings in research. She has this hunger to share really cool trivia with the reader. It's awesome.

4. I admire everything about Michael Ondaatje--but beyond his general magnificence, I admire his lush word choices, his tone, his use understatement to create emotion in the reader, the way he can sharpen a character with a single sentence.

5. Allan Bennet is really funny. (K, if you haven't read it, I think you'd enjoy "The Uncommon Reader.")


I should have known this would expand my list of books to read. I haven't read Ondaatje in years, but loved his sentences. I somehow got a review copy of The Uncommon Reader and enjoyed it.


You are so brave to do this. Very enjoyable to read and think about your answers, both of you. I'm going to check out Bennet--thanks for that tip, Sari. Also, on Bleak house, wow, my big desire there would be to create character descriptions like Dickens does. It's like a magical trick to me, how he brings people to life!

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    • I’m an actual advertising writer and aspiring fiction writer and memoirist. Unprintable Version combines my reading notebooks, thoughts on writing, and tiny essays about my life as a guy from Winona living in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. As an American, I am obligated to share my thoughts on movies, TV shows, music, and graphic design.