Thursday, January 03, 2013

Book 2 & 3: Hadley and Hillerman

2. Married Love, Tessa Hadley

An accomplished novelist, Hadley,a Brit, is one of those rare writers who is also a master of the short form.

Her second and most recent collection, Married Love, argues for her inclusion among such masters of the genre as Alice Munro, William Trevor and Edith Pearlman.

A novel's scope provides the novelists with the leisure to develop the narrative, the story's characters, themes and setting. Within vastly more narrow confines, the author of a short story must quickly capture the reader's interest and work with a laser-like focus.

The opening lines of several stories from Married Love shows how adept Hadley is at working in miniature:

"Their parents had fantastic parties; they were famous for it."

"Her sister changed her relationship status on Facebook to single."

"The winter after her brother killed himself, Ally got a job at a writers' centre near her parents' house, helping out with admin in the office."

"After the sex, he fell asleep."

"Albert Arno, the film director, dropped dead at his home in the middle of a sentence."

With only a few neatly crafted words, Hadley sets the stage for the exquisite stories that follow.  A marvelous writer, on any stage, long-form or short-, Hadley is worthy of more critical acclaim and a larger following than she has so far been accorded in the States.

3. Hunting Badger, Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman is a writer who makes reading fun.

His characters are memorable, the setting vivid and the swift-moving narrative feels like an invitation.

However, his respect for the Navajo culture and the ease with which he folds Navajo history and beliefs into his stories are what set his work apart.

Published in 1999, features the entertaining duo of Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sgt. Jim Chee. A host of law enforcement agencies have descended on the Four Corners canyons in pursuit of a trio that robbed a casino and murdered a security guard.

The real story -- and it is delightful -- is in how Leaphorn and Chee work together to unravel the mystery behind the deadly heist.

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