Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Isaac Marion

Isaac Marion was born in north-western Washington in 1981 and has lived in and around Seattle his whole life, working a variety of strange jobs like delivering deathbeds to hospice patients and supervising parental visits for foster-kids. He is not married, has no children, and did not go to college or win any prizes. Warm Bodies is his first novel.

Not so long ago I asked Marion what he was reading. His reply:
With all the literary output being demanded from me lately--interviews, guest blogs, countless revisions and proofreadings of Warm Bodies--it's been a struggle to keep the input flowing, but luckily I've had a string of great books cross my path during this time, which makes it a lot easier. Tackling something really arduous while in the middle of publishing and promoting a novel is a bad idea; you run the risk of permanently burning out your literary receptors.

The last book I finished was Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Six different storylines, each in a different time period, with different characters and dramatically different writing styles, and a faintly visible theme connecting them all. It starts in the Colonial era, moves to the early 19th Century, then the '70s, then modern times, then a distant dystopian future, which leads to a post-apocalyptic primitive society. All these stories cut off abruptly in the middle of their action, then the book doubles back on itself and revisits all these different worlds in reverse, wrapping up all their conflicts until the first story's Colonial explorer somehow ties everything together in the last few pages. It's quite a reading experience, and a brilliant way of communicating the book's message--that the actions of each individual person are what form the world as we know it, no matter how small those actions are or how many centuries separate them.

Before that, I read Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World, because he wrote a great review to put on Warm Bodies' jacket, and I'm making it a point to read all the authors who blurbed my book. Reading Harkaway's book and knowing that the author lent his name to mine was a humbling experience, because I think his book is so much more ambitious and accomplished than mine. I can barely begin to describe it because it's such a lunatic kaleidoscope of images and themes. The best I can do is: "An ingenious, complex, witty sci-fi Kung Fu epic/postapocalyptic corporate satire."

Last but definitely not least was Ron Currie Jr's Everything Matters! (the exclamation mark is his) which was the most deeply moving book I've read in years. It's about a guy who's born with the knowledge of exactly when and how the world will end--it will be during his mid-thirties--and how he copes with the crushing emotional and philosophical weight of that knowledge. The faintly sci-fi premise fuels an incredibly profound and heartbreaking story about ordinary people trying to dig up meaning in an apparently meaningless existence. Ron Currie Jr. has the boulder balls to come right out and ask the ultimate question: "What's the meaning of life?" and the astounding thing is that he actually seems to come up with an answer. (And it's not "42.") This is the rare book that I can honestly say changed my life.
Visit Isaac Marion's website and the Warm Bodies Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue