Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brandon W. Jones

Brandon W. Jones lives off-grid in Hawaii, tucked in a small cottage in the jungle with his wife and their beloved cat, Ula. He writes every day, when he is not teaching himself to play the cello, sculpting, working on one of his countless crazy inventions or tending the land in his care.

His debut novel is All Woman and Springtime.

A few weeks ago I asked Jones what he was reading. His reply:
I tend to be a binge reader. I will sometimes go for months without picking up a book, especially when I am in the throes of writing, but then without warning dive headlong into a pile of them and not surface again for weeks. I often choose what to read by sense of smell. A book may sit on my shelf for a year or more without so much as a flirtatious glance from me; and then one day, walking by, I will catch a whiff and be drawn in by some rich aroma that compels me to pull it down and start reading. Below are the most recent samples from my latest smell-good binge collection.

Escape from Camp 14, Blaine Harden

This is the remarkable true story of Shin Dong-hyuk, a man who was born and raised in a prison camp in North Korea, who beat all odds to escape not only that camp, but North Korea as well. It is a book that offers amazing insight into the horrors of the extensive labor camp system of North Korea, as well as a startling glimpse into the heart and mind of one of its rare survivors. Not only is the story compelling, but I applaud Blaine Harden for the magic of writing it simply, journalistically and warmly all at the same time. Of course, what brings me to the book is my fascination with North Korea and the fact that one of the characters in my book is a camp survivor as well.

On Writing: a memoir of the craft, Stephen King

A fellow writer and friend of mine just loaned me this book. How could I not be lured by a peek into the writing philosophy of one of the most successful writers of our day? The book is both entertaining and informative, and is exactly what the title suggests, a memoir of the craft. It is full of anecdotes and humor, and written in a cut-the-bullshit style.

Room, Emma Donoghue

One of my current favorites. Room is about Jack, a remarkable five year-old boy who has spent his whole life in the confines of one small room. Emma Donoghue renders Jack’s voice, insights and perceptions with often chilling, heartbreaking and equally funny realism. Also, the story steps out of bounds of convention by successfully incorporating the strong plot action of a page-turning thriller into a very thoughtful literary work. Some purists who don’t believe a book is literature unless they are bored to tears by it may not appreciate that aspect, but I think Room is a work of pure genius.

Gold, Chris Cleave

I was fortunate to get an advance copy of this book (signed!) when I attended the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in New Orleans in January. Chris Cleave is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and his third novel does not disappoint. It is a story that follows the taut competition and friendship between two Olympic cyclists as they navigate both their rigorous training and their attempts to find balance in their lives. I applaud Chris Cleave for breaking his own mold and trying something new.
Visit Brandon W. Jones's website.

The Page 69 Test: All Woman and Springtime.

--Marshal Zeringue