Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Storyline Serendipity: 9/11


I read these back-to-back, not realizing that the  Julia Glass book had anything to do with 9/11 until I got into it.

The Whole World Over by Julia Glass (2006)

Greenie Duquette owns a popular bakery in Greenwich Village but, with her marriage in the doldrums, she decides to shake things up by accepting a surprise offer to become the in-house chef for the Governor of New Mexico. She takes her young son west and leaves her grumpy husband in New York to sort himself out.

As with her earlier National Book Award winner, Three Junes, there are multiple, complicated plots, here eventually coalescing around 9/11. Glass bustles the reader along all these story paths, gently drawing attention back to the characters, their dilemmas, and their decisions, which are complex enough to keep you thinking even after the book wraps up.

It was interesting to me to read a literary book with 9/11 woven into the plot. Apparently, Glass started writing the book in the spring of 2001 and stopped when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. When she was ready to start writing again, she decided to incorporate the event into the story and write about how such an enormous public tragedy affected their personal choices.

Night Fall by Nelson DeMille (2004)

This is another 500+ page book that takes place partially in Manhattan and culminates with 9/11. And it is proof that two books addressing the same subject can be completely different. DeMille is the master of the page-turning thriller. Night Fall isn't as breathtaking as Cathedral -- it is more of a police procedural -- but it is still fast-paced, wise-cracking, and pure entertainment.


Have you had the experience of something coming up in a book -- an event, place, idea, historical character, or even an unusual word -- and then shortly after, the same thing comes up in a different book completely by coincidence? I call this Storyline Serendipity.

I don't mean like when you take a class in Russian history and read two books about the Tsar. Or when you read two mysteries and there are dead bodies in each.

I mean random coincidence between two books. I like it when this happens because it makes me slow down and pay more attention to how the event or idea, place or character was treated in each book. I get a little more out of each book than I would have if the universe hadn't paired them on my reading list.

If you experience Storyline Serendipity, feel free to grab the button and play along. If you want to, please leave the link to your post in a comment. Or leave the link to your post on the Rose City Reader facebook page. If you want to participate but don't have a blog or don't feel like posting, please share your serendipity in a comment.

This is a once-in-a-while blog event that I'll post as I come across Storyline Serendipity. If you want to participate, post whenever you want and leave a comment back here on my latest Storyline Serendipity post. If it ever catches on, we can make it a monthly event.

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