Friday, November 19, 2010

Signe Pike

Signe Pike worked for Random House, Ballantine Books, and then Penguin/Plume before leaving New York City to write her newly released book, Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World.

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Perhaps it's my background as a book editor, but it seems I'm seldom able to just read one book at a time! Because editors are so busy reading and working on their author's manuscripts, we joke about never having time to read. Then I went straight from the editing world to researching my own book project, which required a lot of translated old texts, etc. so now that my own book is done, I am only just now getting the opportunity to read just for the fun of it... and I have a lot of catching up to do.

The first book I tackled was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Safon. I was browsing the tables at a local bookstore when a customer saw it in my hands and and enthused, "You have to read that book." It's a stunning and gorgeously written gothic saga that takes place in 1950's Barcelona, and while it took me a good 50 pages to get truly sucked in, after that, I couldn't put it down. Safon does things with perspective and voice that most novelists would be hard pressed to pull off, and he does it with such an honest flourish - it's a story that stays with you long after you've turned the last page.

Now I'm caught between Little, Big by John Crowley and Diana Gabaldon's Voyager, the third book in The Outlander series. Such a dichotomy!

Little, Big tells the tale of Smoky Barnable as he travels by foot to a mysterious and otherworldly place called Edgewood -- it's literary, a wee bit experimental, daring, and voicey, and you have to work for it. Bookseller friends have told me (which made me feel better) that they picked it up and put it down several times before it caught its legs, and then they were absolutely riveted, so I continue to dip in when I feel so moved.

Diana Gabaldon, on the other hand, had me at hello. Fresh out of college, I was such a snob about any sort of romance - until I got assigned to assist two women at Ballantine books who specialized in romance and thrillers. I learned that romance novels are as soothing as bubble baths and chocolate, and also had the opportunity to read and help edit a good many of them. Romance writers are societal angels, put on this earth to fatten our imaginations, ease our heartbreak, and carry women away, often just when we need it most. They're my guilty pleasure. I had been hoping to read the Outlander series when it first came out but never had the time. Now that I've been to Scotland twice and spent a good deal of time there, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this sweeping and beautifully researched saga of a woman named Clare who somehow manages to fall through an ancient stone circle, finding herself in an 18th century Scotland. Now I can't get enough.

As a reader I'm always trying to keep myself open, to keep from pigeon-holing myself by saying, I only like literary fiction, or I only read memoir. Reading is so very personal, and it's such an escape -- I want to continue to surprise myself in what I read, learn, or am exposed to.
Read an excerpt from Faery Tale, and learn more about the book and author at Visit Signe Pike's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue