Dreams

I just remembered I am going to be on vacation next week.

It’s not a ‘vacation’ in the sense that I am going anywhere; I simply took the week off from work and am staying home. I have a lot to get done (as always) but rather than being stressed or worried about it, I feel pretty good about it. Odd, I know; who am I and what have I done with Gregalicious? It will be nice, though; I’ll also be able to sleep in and go to the gym; perhaps do some cardio (I can dream, can’t I?) and maybe finally reorganize and clean the kitchen the way I want it to be done.

I finished reading Lisa Unger’s superb Crazy Love You last night, and started reading Owen Laukkanen’s The Watcher in the Wall (which is also superb).

crazy-love-you

As I pulled up the long driveway, deep potholes and crunching gravel beneath my wheels, towering pines above me, I was neither moved by the natural beauty nor stilled inside by the quietude I did not marvel at the fingers of light spearing through the canopy, dappling the ground. I did not admire the frolicking larks or the scampering squirrels for their carefree existence. No. In fact, it all made me sick. There was a scream of protest lodged at the base of my throat, and it had been sitting there for the better part of a year. When it finally escaped–and I wasn’t sure when that might be–I knew it would be a roar to shake the world to its core.

I always say the best writers inspire me; when I read their work, I get ideas for stories of my own and how to improve my own writing. I am now adding Lisa Unger to the list of writers who have that effect on me when I read their books.

Crazy Love You is a rollercoaster ride where you don’t ever know what is real, what is going on, and it’s deeply unsettling to read. But the main character is so well done, you can’t stop reading, you can’t stop caring for him–even when he may (or may not) be doing something truly terrible; you can’t help but hope that it’s not him.

Our hero is Ian Paine, and the story is told in his first person point of view. Ian is the successful artist/writer of a series of semi-autobiographical graphic novels called Fatboy and Priss. Ian grew up in a small town north of New York City called The Hollows, and was fat and unpopular and bullied as a kid. There was a horrible family tragedy when he was young, and that’s when he discovered his friend Priss, a beautiful little girl who lived somewhere in the woods near his own house. Throughout Ian’s life, Priss has taken care of him, when things have gotten bad for him or someone has treated him badly. As the book flashes back and forth in time between the present–where Ian is in love, and engaged to, an almost perfect young woman named Megan and trying to dissociate himself from Priss–to his childhood when Priss stepped in to intervene in his life in some way, we slowly begin to wonder precisely what’s going on. Does Priss really exist, or is she some imaginary friend he’s conjured up to help him deal with his own anger issues? Is she some kind of supernatural creature? Does he have dissociative identity disorder? Is this all some kind of drug-induced hallucination?

This was fascinating to read, and a little heartbreaking; I was bullied when I was young and so of course I can completely empathize with Ian and his absorption into comic books and then graphic novels. And Unger is great at not only her use of language but in building tension, mood, suspense and atmosphere.

I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.

And now back to the spice mines.

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