Saturday, October 24, 2009

the night of many badges

Okay. Well, I am heading down to Los Angeles today for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's Author Feast and SCIBA Book Awards.

I don't know what author we'll be feasting on tonight, but I sure hope they have plenty of dessert if it's Lisa Yee. There might not be enough to go around otherwise, and I've seen what a group of hungry authors can do to a bucket of chicken wings.

Apologies for the unfocused course of this post, but last night I was forwarded a most flattering review of in the path of falling objects that had been linked on the YALSA listserve, written by Susan (no relation, I swear to God) Smith of Naples, Florida.

Here's what she said:

Bibliography: Smith, Andrew. (September 2009). In the Path of Falling Objects. New York: Feiwel and Friends. ISBN: 9780312375584

Plot Summary: Jonah and Simon are on a road trip, but it isn’t a teenage lark. Abandoned by their mother, out of food and water, they pack the little precious possessions they own and set out across the New Mexico desert heading to Arizona and their prisoner father. When a car flies by and then slows, and the beautiful blond begs the driver to pick them up, Jonah knows it is a mistake to accept, but he and Simon climb in the back anyway. At least Jonah has a gun…

Critical Analysis: This book completely blew me away. It is a rare suspense/thriller in the young adult fiction category. And a good one at that. Smith does an excellent job of building suspense and tension. Telling the story from the different voices of the characters really adds to that feeling. This is used often in adult suspense novels, but I don’t think I’ve seen it much for young adults. It gives the reader different viewpoints of what is going on, and it also allows Smith to portion out information. He reveals and doesn’t reveal events and details depending on who is telling the story at the time.

The setting is very evocative. I can feel the heat, see the desert. Details about the 1970s are tightly woven with the events of the story–clothing styles, hippies, Vietnam. Even descriptions of diners and hotels are spot on. I can almost smell them. Add to that the tone which communicates a real desperation and longing, especially from Jonah. We get other characters’ points of view, but I think this is Jonah’s story, Jonah’s journey. The brothers are traveling to somewhere, but more because they don’t know what else to do, not because they know what to expect when they get there. In the end, the book is about the journey, the physical one and the emotional one the brothers experience.

I am reminded very much of the best western fiction that has and is being written. Not just westerns, like cowboys and horses, but that fiction that takes the ideals of the west and expands them, updates them, bends them into something new.

And here's the link to Susan's review on Readspace.

So, anyway... about this thing tonight. It's going to be a monumental blast. I just hope the security staff at the Millennium Biltmore doesn't recognize me after what happened the last time I was there.

In case you don't remember, you might want to step inside the old time machine and return to October of 2008 to read an unbiased account.

Oh... and then the last SCIBA Dinner I went to, I had, like this complete clothing crisis. I was one of three males present wearing a tie. The other two were part of the wait staff and people kept asking me to bring them more rolls.

I will blog next from downtown Los Angeles, hopefully not the Men's Central Jail.