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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Being Drawn Down New Paths

I'm an eclectic reader. I like mystery and adventure mostly but certain writers can lure me into genres that I normally avoid. Iain Banks, for instance. I became a huge fan when I read his mainstream novels. I knew he also wrote science fiction as Iain M Banks but that has never been a area in which I had any interest. Nevertheless, because I enjoyed his other work so much, I began to check out his science fiction and found it tremendously appealing. Now, I pre-order anything Iain or Iain M. Banks writes.

I read The Scottish Prisoner, the last of Diane Gabaldon's Outlander series first. This book brings together Jamie Fraser and Sir John Gray as roughly equal main characters. There is nothing in The Scottish Prisoner about time travel although that is a central element of the series. As with science fiction, I've never been attracted by the paranormal. I fell in love with to Sir John Gray so I went back and read all the novels in which he appeared but still put off reading any of the original Outlander books until recently. Finally, I went back to the beginning and am now reading The Outlander, the start of it all. I am captivated and grateful to Sir John for leading me into this journey.

I first read and fell in love with Charlie Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy. Hank is a lovable loser. The books about him are gritty and funny and hip and graphic. I knew Charlie Huston also wrote a series of books about Joe Pitt, a vampire. Vampires are not my cup of tea (except for Anne Rice's Lestat, the exception to my vampire rule) but as with Banks and Gabaldon, I liked Charlie Huston's writing so well, I was willing to take a chance on a completely different genre than usually appeals to me. I'm so glad I did because the Joe Pitt series is terrifically entertaining.

I came to Augusten Burroughs', Dry, by accident. I was on vacation and had read all the books I'd taken along for the ride. At the bookstore, I found nothing new by well loved authors so I was forced to try something different. Dry, a memoir, sounded intriguing. Not only did it prove, in fact, to be intriguing, it was also black and bitter and funny and touching all at the same time. Augusten Burroughs was instantly added to my list of favorite authors. As soon as I got home, I went to Amazon.com and ordered every other book he'd written, both fiction and non-fiction.

It is so easy to get caught in the rut of your usual fare. I still have my list of favorite authors on Amazon and I check them out first. My most anticipated books tend toward daring heroes - spies and assassins and cops - who engage in acts of violence. I will never give up on Eddie Loy and Jack Reacher and Gabriel Allon and Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport and Peter Pascoe and Andy Dalziel...well, I could go on and on but now and then an author comes along who can convince me to leave my safety zone and venture into new galaxies and spiritual realms and unfamiliar adventures.

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