So the same day I finished reading the rough draft (nearly complete) of my book, an experience I can only describe as ridiculously, tear-inducingly satisfying, I picked up a new book to read. It’s a beautiful book called The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, published in 2006. The very first sentence took my breath away. This book makes mine seem like something written by a twelve-year-old. You know how that is? You get yourself all excited about something you’ve done, only to find out someone else did it, like, seven hundred billion times better.
And the next day, two rejections of my short stories. Now those who know me will be surprised to find out this did not make me bitter, cause me to throw The Book Thief against the wall in pure envious spite. I’m still reading. It’s that good. Story, characters, and above all, language. Some have said it’s too gimmicky. It’s not. It’s love affair with language can bring you to your knees.
It’s the story of a small girl who is taken in by foster parents in a small town in Germany as World War II is erupting and the Nazi persecution of Jews reaches a fever pitch. She steals her first book from her little brother’s gravesite; it and the few others she manages to pilfer become magic keys that open the world for her, a world that includes hiding a Jew in the basement and the love of her foster father.
The narrator of this story is Death.
As a narrator, I mean. I am not sure yet if he is Good or Bad as Death.
If I can ever tell a story as well as this version of Death does, I will Die happy.
See Markus Zusak talk about The Book Thief here.