Have you ever felt like writing up a wanted ad, when you’re browsing the shelves of your local library or independent bookstore? Something like:
Wanted: A wild tale of adventure that will make take my breath away, surprise me, astonish me, terrify me, cause me to shed a few tears, and above all, make me laugh so hard my sides ache.
Sometimes I have a hard time finding this book. And of course, I don’t need every book to cause me to feel the entire spectrum of human emotion. Still, I have to admit, when a book can totally entertain me, while also tugging on my heartstrings, I can’t help but fall in love.
Humor gets me, especially. I think this is because I’m not naturally a funny writer. Also, as my MFA colleague Peter Pearson would say, humor offsets pain in fiction. Often, where there is humor, there is also deep feeling. So, when I stumble across a book that makes me laugh, and makes me feel, I want to read it over and over, both for the experience as a reader, and for what I can learn as a writer.
Which brings me to Laura Ruby’s books, The Wall and the Wing and The Chaos King. I love these books. First of all, they are twisty-turny fantasies that delight me as a reader because I never know what’s coming. Secondly, Laura’s clever use of the absurd, and of specific, unexpected details is hilarious. But underneath all that, the characters are deeply felt individuals, with joy and pain and who face real challenges and grow through the books.
I learn something about writing every time I read Laura's books. And at the same time, I feel like I’ve taken a magic carpet ride through a world I could only hope to dream up.
Read them. I promise you’ll fall in love.