Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Barry Wolverton

Barry Wolverton has been writing for children for 20 years, helping create books, documentary television, and online content for Discovery Networks, National Geographic, the Library of Congress, Scholastic, and Time-Life Books, among others.

His debut novel, Neversink, was named the Children’s Book of Choice by Literacy Mid-South for their Read Across America program in 2014.

Wolverton's new novel is The Vanishing Island, book one of The Chronicles of the Black Tulip.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

I just started re-reading this as part of an NEA grant program I am participating in. Even though I’m not far into it, I am immediately reminded how precise and compelling her prose is, and how scrupulously she built the world of Earthsea. The names of people and places and the languages used feel wholly invented, and I love how strict her rules of magic are and the care she takes to explain how magic is learned and used. It’s not just opening a book of spells and learning Latinate phrases.

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

So far there are two books in this proposed trilogy, and though a friend recommended the first — The Name of the Wind — I bought it because there was a blurb on the back from Ursula Le Guin (I guess it’s obvious I’m a fan). Both books are enormous yet deliberately incomplete. It’s not the trilogy for you if you want each installment to have a conclusion, a la Star Wars. And on one level, almost nothing happens. The entire narrative is being told by the main character to a scribe in a tavern over three days. But it’s incredibly absorbing because of the narrator’s voice and the author’s world-building. It’s like staring at the most amazing, intricate diorama you’ve ever seen.

Mr. Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

I always try to bounce between different types of books or books for kids and adults, and Ms. Oyeyemi was by far my favorite discovery of the year. She is such an incredibly agile writer with a sharp, devilish wit I really love. Mr. Fox in particular reminded me a lot of another of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, for the way its stories are sort of elliptical and nested. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books.
Visit Barry Wolverton's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Vanishing Island.

--Marshal Zeringue