More … why we read …

Rocky River Harbor - from the Wikipedia article on Rocky River, Ohio

My post titled “A Mallard on the Cuyahoga” was the most popular I’ve had since I started blogging in March. It was about our recent trip to Cleveland and Rocky River where I grew up. In preparation for that trip I read Cleveland, A Concise History, 1796-1996 by Carol Poh Miller & Robert A. Wheeler, Rocky River, Ohio (from the Images of America series) by Carol Lestock, Rocky River…Timeless by Ann McCauley, and numerous articles from The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History by David D. Van Tassel and John J. Grabowski (http://ech.cwru.edu/index.html). Now I’m reading another book from that stack, A Ghetto Takes Shape, Black Cleveland, 1870-1930 by Kenneth L. Kusmer. Recently, I received an invitation to visit a high school classroom to take part in a discussion about impressions of war since I’m a Vietnam War veteran and author of Cologne No. 10 for Men. The students have read three war books over the summer, one of which is Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which I had already read, and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a Vietnam War novel. Surprisingly, I had not yet read it, even though Kirkus Discoveries had compared Cologne No. 10 for Men to it (and Catch-22 and M.A.S.H.) in its review of Cologne. During the years from the time I first wrote Cologne No. 10 for Men right through until I published it, I resisted reading war novels because I did not want my writing to be influenced by what others had written. I have done some catching up since then, and have now read The Things They Carried as well as O’Brien’s masterpiece, Going After Cacciato.  Now Barbara is reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  When a friend recently said that he wasn’t “grabbed” by the beginning of Well Considered like he was with Cologne, Barbara replied that she read over 200 pages of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before it “grabbed” her. When he wondered why she kept reading it that long, she realized that it was curiosity — wanting to know why it was a bestseller.  If you start reading Well Considered and stay with it for a few chapters, be assured that you will be rewarded with the scenes reviewers call “gripping,” “a thriller,” or “terrorizing.” More later: the more I write on this subject of why we read the books we do, the more there is to write.

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