Last month I asked George about what she was reading. Her reply:
I recently read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and while I was reading I marveled at the way she kept narrative questions going. I kept talking back to the novel—“But he’s forgotten X!” “Or why doesn’t he just do Y?” This ability to maintain a narrative drive is one of her skills and it, along with a ton of research and her facility at close observation, makes her work complex and enjoyable.Visit Kathleen George's website.
I’m always asking what rivets me to a book. One of those answers is: when a writer makes me care about a character who happens to be not so good at caring for him or herself. Certain books put us in a helpless parental position. We see the trouble from a distance and can’t intervene.
This worry-reaction is happening to me now with a novel I’m in the midst of by author Charles McCarry who has been compared to Le Carré. He writes amazing spy novels. The Shanghai Factor has a protagonist who is a spy, drugged by sex, unaware of what he is in the midst of, seemingly a plaything for a number of people. Will he defend himself? Will he survive intact? And ... what is intact, after all?
Both these novels, the one I finished and the one I am reading now, use a first person narrator who humbles himself and makes us fret and worry and keep turning pages. This is one of the great delights of reading. Getting upset about a life that is being lived beyond our control. Funny, isn’t it?