John Wyndham’s Work Remains Scary and Thought-provoking

I love discovering authors that were impactful in their era and whose work still holds up today. Wyndham is the kind of writer I truly enjoy–he writes the kind of unfussy, competent prose that is underrated and more supple than it first appears. His writing reminds me of the work of Walter Tevis, Theodore Sturgeon, and James Tiptree, Jr. where the first lines draw you in, and the characters are drawn swiftly in compelling details without overdoing it.

Wyndham wrote short, chilling novels that he called “logical fantasy” and what were alternately and perhaps dismissively called “cosy catastrophes.” He also knew how to draw you in from the first sentence and paragraph.

Here is the first sentence in The Day of the Triffids (1951): “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”

The Day of the Triffids starts in a hospital. Bill Masen wakes up, his face bandaged from an accident, to a world altered. He discovers that a meteor shower the night before caused nearly everyone in the world who witnessed it to go blind. His quest for survival is thwarted by triffids, unusual plants that can walk and even kill. A film was made of the book in 1963.

The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) is a book told from the perspective of a young man from Midwich who returns with his wife after a night away to find their town cordoned off after some mysterious catastrophe. It turns out that the people of Midwich fell asleep and seemingly lost a day. Several weeks later, they learn that all of the women of childbearing age are now pregnant. The creepiness mounts and you meet the characters as they navigate their new predicament. And the ending is one you can’t forget. Some may have been introduced to this story with the film “Village of the Damned,” the original of which came out in 1960.

The Chrysalids (1955) is a post-apocalyptic novel set in a community where rooting out any aberration is paramount. Any child or animal born with any visible mutancy is killed for the good of community. David Strorm knows he is different, that he can communicate with select others with his mind, but his aberration is not visible and he wants to keep it that way. But in a community obsessed with purity, you can’t hide forever.

This is but a taste of the stories that Wyndham shared, stories that plumbed what-ifs and their psychological and emotional impact with a deft attunement to character and human nature. As Edmund Morris said in his Modern Library edition introduction: “…the influence of John Wyndham on such contemporary American writers as Stephen King and Michael Crichton is palpable.” It’s time to rediscover Wyndham’s dark, curious visions.

~posted by Misha S.

September Literary Holidays

September means school’s starting. What better way to get warmed up for school than with a few literary holidays?

National Read a Book Day has been celebrated on September 6th since the early 2000s. To celebrate, I’d like to give you this word: tsundoku. This is a Japanese word for collecting reading material but not reading it. So this is the perfect excuse to grab one of those books you’ve been meaning to read. If that doesn’t strike your interest try one of the following books and feel free to let people know what you are reading by using #ReadABookDay on social media.

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine follows the story of a woman in Beirut who surrounds herself with books and is gossiped about for being godless, childless, and divorced. Continue reading “September Literary Holidays”

August Literary Holidays

August may have few nationally acknowledged holidays, but if you appreciate literature I’ve got a few things you can celebrate.

Kicking off the month we have National Book Lover’s Day taking place on August 9th. On this day celebrate by enjoying the smell of books, visit the library, drop literary references into casual speech, or just enjoy a favorite book.  Here are a couple book-themed books to help with the day:

Reading Lolita in TehranReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi is the author’s memoir from her time in Iran when she started an underground book club with seven girls reading western books outlawed by the government.

Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine depicts an alternative history where the Great Library of Alexandria still exists and it is illegal to own books. Continue reading “August Literary Holidays”

#BookBingoNW2018: Award-Winning Authors

I’m sure you have heard of the Newbery Medal, Man Booker Prize, Hugo Award, and many, many other author awards. In addition to these well-known awards, let me introduce you to a few newer ones and their winning authors.

Black Caucus American Library Association (BCALA) Literary Award, established in 1994, recognizes African American authors in both fiction and nonfiction. Some of these outstanding works are listed below:

Grace by Natashia Deon follows the life of a runaway slave and her daughter. Deon’s writing is beautiful and gives you an intense conclusion. This won the Fiction Award in 2017.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore was the Nonfiction winner in 2011. This fascinating book is a memoir of the author and also the story of another boy who grew up in a neighborhood nearby with the same name.

Chasing Utopia by Nikki Giovanni won the 2014 literary award by using simplicity and humor in this collection of poems that are part memoir.

Grace The Other Wes Moore Chasing Utopia

Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2018: Award-Winning Authors”

July Literary Holidays

Here’s a quick look at some of the literary holidays you can celebrate this month: Almanacs, paperbacks, and the Wizarding World!

Happy National Paperback Day!

The entire month of July is read an Almanac month. Providing a wealth of knowledge, they are typically published once a year. The most common almanacs are used for planting dates, tide tables, and celestial events. However, those listed below are a little bit different than your typical almanac. Continue reading “July Literary Holidays”