Friday, October 16, 2009

Justifiable Rock Star Worship

The shortest distance between two people might be a smile, but the quickest way to close that distance is to talk about someone’s mother. Communication is one of the most important facets of human life, and how we use it will dictate our closeness to others. I believe that the way we communicate leaves a footprint on each individual. Some of those footprints are like in sand, easily washed away, and others are boot prints rammed into another person like stomping through quick-dry cement. And the truth is, we really don’t know whether a person is sandy or cementy or the potential for damage we are capable of inflicting.

My recent thoughts about all the kinds of communication between people (and animals) blossomed while reading All Roads Lead Me Back To You, which I will tell you about after the following admission: I have a little rock star agent worship to share with you. The rock star agent is Ms. Janet Reid. She’s witty, fun, edgy, all sorts of bright, and has a down-to-earth understanding of the writing/publishing experience that inspired my rock star worship.

The ironic part: Ms. Reid doesn’t represent most of what I write, and I don’t normally read what she represents. To explain this, I must admit one more thing: I have FRS (Fragile Reader Syndrome). This condition (which is untreatable but fortunately survivable) means that I really can't handle books that involve excessive violence, death (even health-related deaths which seem to be all the rage right now), blood trails or splatters, evil bad guys doing really heinous things, and above all mysteries that begin with some poor mostly anonymous character getting axed. I can’t even watch Law and Order type shows because I never get over the dead stranger from the first minute or so (and am constantly worried about their poor families). Having FRS limits the books I read. (My friends who have read my novels will want me to point out that the books I write are not without loss of life, but I promise I cried about the deaths more than they did.)

So, I really try to avoid books that are going to upset me (sometimes I really get suckered though and sometimes I love the books so much it was worth it). Recently, I started crying on the phone when describing a scene in a book I read in May (yes, I’m a wimp! And for those who are curious, the book was The Time Traveler's Wife and the scene involved the outcome of the really cold day.)

Now, when Ms. Reid blogged about taking on and seeing published a book that wasn’t like her normal blood-pool-filled books (a book that actually had a happy ending), my ears perked (especially at the mention of cowgirl lit), and I’m so glad they did. All Roads Lead Me Back To You by Kennedy Foster is a wonderful book that takes the reader on a unique journey into life on a modern working ranch.

The book is fantastic and I highly recommend it. Instead of giving a breakdown of the main characters or the plot (which can be found here, here, or here), I’d rather talk about the insightful way communication is described in the book in such amazing language that it has inspired me to work harder in my own writing.

Let’s look at the variety of forms of communication found on the ranch (and probably in many of your homes).

Nature’s Communication:

“Everything trickled and gurgled; the landscape seemed to be chuckling under its breath.”

Aside from the fact that the writing is exquisite, this communication by nature brought me into the setting and the real power of the seasons over ranchers’ lives.

Communication between women and men (Domingo and Alice):

“Lot of time,” he returned mildly, “guy like me, we don’t cook, we don’t eat.”

“Guys like you? Meaning what, bachelors?”

Domingo felt searched.

I loved this. What is a simple question to a woman can be an interrogation to a man. Gender politics are more complicated than those on Capitol Hill (and that's really saying something).

Communication between a teenaged boy and cows (this one made me laugh so hard I scared my dogs):

“Nick, up on the chute for hours at a stretch, had for some reason fallen into the habit of addressing the cows in third-year German, with obscene insertions for emphasis.”

This line is followed by Nick’s actual (hysterical) comments, but you’ll have to read the book to find them.

Communication between horse and man:

“... the mare stood still, her ears poised in polite inquiry: May I help you?”

Having been around horses for many years, I loved this. Animals are so attentive to us, our body language, our voices, everything.

Silent communication between a man and woman:

“The pause drew out, became something sweet, a singing note on a phantom fiddle.”

Silence in itself is communication, sometimes filled with love, and sometimes used as a weapon. Silence can be every bit as hurtful as an unkind word and every bit as loving as a caress.

Communication between a woman and man:

“That a woman should speak to a man of, of... At the very least, he had depended on a decent silence on the topic.”

Culture, gender, age, species, this delightful book contains a gamut of different communication experiences all woven into an engaging story. The pace of the story takes its time but doesn’t linger. Personally, I found this to be a fantastic book to read when traveling because I could enjoy my trip and still take a fictional journey that allowed the savoring of moments. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Quote for the Day - All Roads Lead Me Back To You

If you aren’t convinced yet to read this book, this might do it for you.

“He happened to be riding his best horse, a short-coupled golden dun with black points and big dapples. He glanced at her and she glanced at him; more would have been indecent. But he said to himself, I intend to have that woman. And she said to herself, I intend to have that horse.”


Jemi Fraser said...

Okay - another book for the To Be Read pile! What lovely quotes - I smiled all the way through your post :) I can't wait to see what he said to the cows!

Julie said...


It is a hoot. I cackled about the boy's comments to the cows! And I read the quote to my parents when I was home for the reunion and they chuckled loudly. It is a small moment in the greater whole of a wonderful book, but it is truly priceless.

I really came into this blog world uncertain of what I would find, but sharing my favorite books with people like you makes this a truly special experience for me.

Thanks so much for commenting. It really means a lot. And please email or post a comment after you read any of the books. Feel free to suggest your own favs, too.

DebraLSchubert said...

Wonderful post, Julie. The writing is special, I can see why Janet liked (read: loved) it. I'm so glad you're enjoying your little corner of the blogisphere! Isn't it cozy here? ;-)

Frankie said...

You're getting me interested in too many books at once. Please read something horrible so I won't have to read that one.

I talked to your mom last week. *smile*