Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore is an attorney with the Honolulu firm of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, the owner of Taiwan’s first Mexican restaurant, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington D.C. His novels include Close Reach and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award.

Moore's latest novel is The Poison Artist.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Whenever I’m not writing a book of my own, I am usually reading at least one novel and one piece of nonfiction. At the moment, the novel is The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. One of the things I love most about a good book is the sense of trust that develops between the author and reader. The trust builds from the words themselves—that the author chose to include certain details; that the author always knows the right word; that the dialogue rings true every time—and that propels me into a story and keeps me reading, even when I have no idea where the story is going. I’m not far into The Bone Clocks, but I trust David Mitchell. I’ve reached that comfortable part of the process where he’s my guide, and I’ll go wherever he wants to take me.

When it comes a story like The Bone Clocks, a book that pushes past what is possible or what is expected, trust is an enormously important element. I can read Gabriel Garcia Marquez and feel entirely comfortable with stories and plots that would spin apart in a lesser writer’s hands, because I trust him at the most basic levels of the art: his words, his sentences, his dialogue. David Mitchell is very good, and the story he’s telling in The Bone Clocks is absolutely wild. But he’s clearly got it under control, and so rather than going into the book with apprehension that the thing is going to turn into a disaster, I’m just happily along for the ride.

My reading list is a little weirder on the nonfiction side. Right now I’m reading Practical Audiovisual Chinese, Volume I, which is put out by National Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Training Center. Actually, I’m reading it for the second time. I lived in Taiwan from 2001 to 2004, and worked through the first three volumes while I was there. My wife and I are having a son in April, and we thought it would be a fun experiment to speak some Chinese at home. So Maria gave me the textbooks for Christmas, and I’m trying to catch up to where I was in 2004. Our son is far enough along that he can hear my voice, so he’s been listening to my practice exercises as well. He kicks a lot when I say his Chinese name, and I take that as a sign that my pronunciation is improving.

I didn’t read nearly as much in 2015 as I would have liked. Mainly, that’s because I ended up writing two books last year—The Dark Room, which will be published in January 2017, and The Night Market, which comes out January 2018. But in between the two books, I did squeeze in some additional fiction. The best novel I read last year was Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone, which was just nominated for an Edgar Award. Berney’s book isn’t just a mystery, but is a meditation on loss and on the fundamental unknowability of the past. It tells the story of a private investigator from Las Vegas who was the sole survivor of a brutal theater robbery in the 1980’s, and weaves that with the tale of a nurse whose older sister disappeared at a carnival when she was a child. It’s a beautiful book, and the way Berney handles parallel stories, and traces back and forth between the past and present, is truly masterful. I also enjoyed The Whites, by Richard Price—another author who always manages to establish trust and credibility within the first two pages—and Make Me, by Lee Child, which I think is the best Jack Reacher novel yet.
Visit Jonathan Moore's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Poison Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue