Where is publishing headed? What hot new subgenres will burn up the bestseller charts? As with Hollywood, if anyone knew the answer, there would be no duds and bombs. But what harm in speculation? The Narrators offer their hopes and guesses for the Next Big Things in books and entertainment.
Last week I was in the air, and as is often my way while flying, I read a lot of books. One of the books, L. D. Colter‘s A Borrowed Hell, was pretty good. Published by Shirtsleeve Press, A Borrowed Hell dives right into the world of Jungian archetypes while taking a cue from Dante’s Inferno.
You have to like your fantasy on the literary side if you’re going to take a journey with July Davish as he literally confronts his worst fears and inner demons. As a reader, I identify strongly with July and his trials, his emotionally absent father, troubled sister, and addicted mother. He’s the kid who’s going to save them all, and therein lies his problem.
While his life is falling apart, July sees himself as a stable center at its core, just as a man having a run of bad luck. But when his life is threatened in a car accident, July finds himself occasionally transported to a purgatory where he must be confronted by the issues of his life and work through them, promising no pat endings or easy answers. While he’s awake, he’s lucky enough to meet a partner worthy of his journey.
There are only two parts of the story where I am pulled out. There’s an intimation on July’s part that people who use Xanax are addicts, which is solid characterization, but is not true. (Sensitive Xanax user here!) Valerian, the aforementioned partner, is pretty special, but in a story this literary, their meeting is a pretty pat love at first site kind of thing.
Still. I love the characters. I like July, Valerian, and Bill. I like all the variations of Pat, the archetypes. The medical details are strong, the emotional journey is good, and Colter builds emotional tension throughout. Don’t overlook this book. It’s a hidden gem.
Which books and authors can we read over and over? Who has influenced us in our own writing? Join us for a freeform discussion of the books, films, shows and comics that have helped us get from there to here.
Surprise! It’s our 100th episode! Yes, we know, it may not look like it due to our confusing numbering scheme, which ends now! Celebrate with us as we discuss relationships in fiction, primarily platonic and unlikely friendships that have inspired us in reading and writing. Champagne in the lobby.