Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reading "The Resurrection" (Part Two of Four)

Last time, I began a list of seven reasons why I appreciated Mike Duran's "The Resurrection."

 Let's pick it up with #6:

6) Fiction Grounded in Historical Fact & Research:

I'm a huge proponent of reading widely, and frankly I have a hard time understanding those who deliberately limit themselves to one category of fiction.

But if I was forced to pick one--and only one--favorite, it would have to be stories where historical fact serves as the basis for fictional events.

Umberto Eco with The Name of the Rose and Focault's Pendulum
Arturo Perez-Reverte with The Club Dumas, The Flanders Panel, The Nautical Chart, and others.
Katherine Neville with The Eight
Elizabeth Kostova with The Historian

And dozens more...

So one of the reasons I loved The Resurrection was the detail Mike included pertaining to false gods, pantheons, and syncretistic philosophies.

He did his homework, and that always impresses me. When I trust that an author has put in the research time, I'm more willing to embrace his/her fictional world and let myself believe.

Loved it. Ate it up. Wished for more.

7) The Characters:

The Resurrection features a rich cast of varied personalities. In particular, I found myself drawn to Ian Clark, a tormented man of doubt who deals with the pain of life by seeking escape. This time, events are flowing too quickly and before he can resign and move away, God forces him to look in a mirror and come to terms. His intense struggles are the linchpin of the book, for me.

Ruby is well-drawn as the reluctant "prophet," a woman with troubles of her own who would rather be faithful than famous. 

And Benjamin Keen...the world-travelling scholar who brilliantly illustrates the difference between intellect and wisdom. Mike hits a home run with Keen...and I imagine he found this character fun to portray. The spirited exchanges between Clark and his former mentor suggest the author felt more than a little biographical bonding with Keen, though their theological conclusions may differ significantly. Keen showcases Duran's gifts of intellectual curiosity and drive to understand. Keen is what Duran might have been, had he chosen another path.

The characters balance one another, provoke one another, and keep reader interest high. Mike spends just the right amount of "face time" on each, given their respective roles in the story.

Now, a confession:  I love editing.

I love having a first draft in my hand, cutting and pasting and making a good thing better.

I used to think all writers felt that way: you know, Good writing is re-writing....

But lately I'm running across more and more people who just don't care for the process. And I can see why some personalities don't relish the detail work.

To me, it's enjoyable...so I tend to do it in my head, whenever I'm reading. I've found that I'll click into "Edit mode" automatically when something occurs to pull me out of the fictional dream.

The more that happens, the less enthusiastic I become about the book. In a few cases, I'll read through an entire novel not because I enjoy it...but because it has so many editing flaws that I stop reading for pleasure, and start reading for educational purposes.  

I'll make mental (and sometimes written) notes to myself: don't do this....don't do this...don't do this...

So I had fun with The Resurrection, as I do with most books, asking myself what counsel I would give, if it was my job to edit the manuscript.

THIS WILL INCLUDE MINOR SPOILERS...so I highly recommend you pick up a copy, and enjoy it first.

Next time: unsolicited advice!

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