Choose Wisely

Choosing a book to read is like picking out the holy grail. Sure you can drink from any of the vessels in the sanctuary, but pick the showy ostentatious number completely devoid of substance and you could end up a dessicated husk of a human being, your life literally siphoned away. Choose wisely, as the knight tells Indiana Jones, and it will grant you healing and restoration. You may even find illumination, like Indy’s father. Just pay heed to the guardian when he tells you not to take it from the sanctuary without permission!

Indie booksellers in book sanctuaries all over this continent will tell you that reading Emily St. John Mandel is a wise choice. Her fiction is both wise and choice, with exceptional pacing and emotional depth. When my trusted colleague and friend Drew Goodman gave me an advance reader copy of The Singer’s Gun for my birthday I knew it was more than just showing off his blurb on the back! Drew plays the Indy role well (he even has the hat!), selecting the genuinely worthwhile books amongst the pretenders.

With the selection made all I had to choose was when to read it. Going from Richmond Noir to The Singer’s Gun was a natural progression. The title certainly evokes noir, and it does fulfill the twin promises of seamy urban romance and suave big-city crime. Anton Waker attempts to rise above his criminal background, but choosing between the shady and the sunny on the island of Ischia isn’t so clear cut.

Perceptive as a child, Anton asks his mother (no stranger to shady dealings herself) how a person becomes a bus driver. “‘You just make decisions as you go along, my magnificent child,’ his mother said. ‘A or B, two options present themselves, and you choose the one that seems best at the time.'”

Throughout the novel all the principle characters save one are faced with these A or B options. I won’t spoil the book by listing examples, but it is a major theme: we are the sum of our choices. Don’t choose the false grails.

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One Response to “Choose Wisely”

  1. J.A., thanks for this post. I appreciate the kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

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