Thursday, September 07, 2006

Die a Little - Megan Abbott

Wow. Take one beautiful young lady with a disreputable past, marry her to a straight arrow DA's detective, give that detective a straight arrow sister who can elegantly and eloquently narrate, give her a boyfriend whose day job is fixing problems for Hollywood studios, throw in some sex, some violence, some drugs and a little black book, and what do you get? In the hands of Megan Abbott you get a wonderful novel that will keep you reading long past your bedtime (and my bedtime is generally like three in the morning).

Probably the best thing about Abbott's book, however, has nothing to do with the elements of the plot which, as you can see, are varied and, of course, interesting. (I forgot that one of the persons mentioned above has an inate need to protect another and, more generally, to see that everything works out - the amount of trouble this need can cause is not to be underestimated.) The best thing about the novel is the obvious care Abbott has taken in selecting each word. The prose is fine at the micro and macro levels. That is, her sentences are great, but the paragraphs and the longer sections (there are no chapter breaks, but that won't bother you, trust me, I'm easily bothered) are exquisite. It's as though she polished every aspect of the book to a high sheen, not just the plotting which a lot of mystery writers do, but down to the word selection --- that's 70,000 words that she cared for.

This is far from my method which is generally to type as fast as I can until I get to the end and then print out, find an appropriate sized envelope, stuff it in, get some postage and mail it off. I even make sure to keep my fingernails trimmed to ensure faster typing.

See, what this care that Abbott take tells me is that everything she writes will be similarly blessed. Sadly, the only thing else she has to her credit is a short story in Damn Near Dead by Busted Flush Press . Will she rectify that with further publications? Will she ever take her game down a notch so others can feel like her equals? Will she ever explain how a nice girl like her came up with a nasty plot like that? Maybe if I interview her, no? But will she deign to answer questions from someone like me? That remains to be seen.

2 Comments:

Blogger Aldo said...

Steven,
It is my understanding that she has new book due out soon.

September 07, 2006 1:29 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

Indeed she does, it's called THE SONG IS YOU, and by all accounts it's great. It's based on a singer and actress who disappeared in 1949 - go to The Rap Sheet for more.

September 12, 2006 9:40 AM  

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