Stuff Worth Reading: The House with a Clock in its Walls

Young awkward, orphaned boy discovered he is descended from witches and wizards, needs to develop courage and master simple magic to prevent the world from being destroyed by the big bad….Harry Potter?  Nope, it’s Lewis Barnavelt, the main character in many of John Bellairs’ books, my favorite being The House with a Clock in its Walls.

Lewis is chubby and awkward and just wants to be liked, plus he fights evil with weak-ass magic.  There is something very sweet and dark about Bellairs’ writing.  It is full of humor and warmth and, in some places, it is actually quite scary.  Bellairs clearly remembers how it feels to be an outcast and I love his books for it.

Plus, many of his books are illustrated by Edward Gorey.  Perfect.

One of my favorite children’s series of all time.  If you are looking for books for a little one in your life (or if you just enjoy reading great, gothic horror books) I highly recommend this!

My writing as music video

What I want my writing to be like.

That is, I want it to be immediately dark and powerful but also somehow sweet and you don’t quite know what’s happening but you want to know more.

What I think my writing is actually like.

That is, really slow building, interesting but also maybe a little treacly sweet at first and you basically have to get all the way to the end to find out how totally messed up it is.  Though to be honest, I don’t think my writing is as luminous and beautiful as this video cause that might be ok then.

Stuff Worth Reading: The Master and Margarita

Short Version: With a host of unforgettable characters (including Behemoth, a hard-drinking devilish black cat), this book is raucous, disconcerting, hysterical, genuinely moving, and creepy – sometimes all at once.  It reminds me of the wave of noirish, urban fantasy coming out lately, a gritty and dark wild ride but also exploring some intense and beautiful topics.

I first read this book in my Russian Lit class back at New College (thank you Dr. Schatz) and it blew my mind then.  I’ve read it a few times since and I have a new revelation every time. Set in 1930ish Moscow (with interludes in Jerusalem),  Master and Margarita is really about the sensual world of magic, the search for truth, and intellectual courage.

Sadly I lent my copy to someone years ago (was that you? then send it back you book stealer!) but I’m looking forward to reading it again eventually.