I've been listening to Anna Quindlen's Every Last One on CD while I'm driving all over hell and creation in northern California for the past few days. I actually cannot wait to get in the car to drive to Salinas (yes, Salinas!) on Wednesday just so I can listen to another disc or two. Well, that and get that spicy sweet tamarind candy on the plastic spoons that they sell at the Mi Pueblo Food Center.
Anyway, I have no idea why I'm loving this book so much. I'm on disc 4 and something finally happened. Granted, it's a super big thing, but really the first 3 and a half discs were what would be essentially step one of Christopher Vogler's adaptation of the hero's journey. It was the main character's ordinary world. It was, essentially, back story. Three and a half discs.
Now normally this would make me crazy. I would be hurling discs around the car (okay, I wouldn't do that because they're from the library and I don't want to return them scratched up) and swearing, especially with that whole New York Time Bestselling Author thing. I mean, really, shouldn't she know better?
It appears she does. Because I was absolutely rapt through all that back story. I even knew it was back story. I could tell what she was establishing. I didn't care. I loved it. Instead of hurling discs, I'm sitting in front of my house with the CD going, waiting for the end of the scene before I turn the car all the way off even if I have to pee. Now I have to figure out how she did it.
Part of it is that the heroine is a woman with teenagers. She is, essentially, me. I recognize myself in her and her friends. Quindlen's insights into the friendships between women are perspicacious, to say the least. She gets it. She also gets the rhythms of a marriage and how we relate to our teenagers.
But it's got to be more than that. That would totally hold me for a disc, but for close to four discs? No way! I'm a much tougher customer than that.
Part of it is the writing. It's the kind of stuff I love. Nothing fancy. Nothing overblown and purple. Clear and direct and bone-achingly beautiful without ever being show-offy.
That would also totally hold me for a disc, possibly two. We're still only up to 3.
I'm honestly not sure. I used to love Quindlen's columns in the back of Newsweek. This is the first of her novels I've read. I'm totally getting in line to read more.