Thursday, April 15, 2010

chasing the moon

I just finished The Girl Who Chased the Moon, the latest novel by Sarah Addison Allen. It took me all of one day. Darn it. Her books slide down so smooth you hardly notice. I wanted this one to last longer.

I really needed one of her books. I’ve been on a reading jag lately, finishing up a book every few days. And as good as much of the writing has been, they haven’t been very nourishing or uplifting.

I like my literature to be better than real life.

I’ve been in love with Allen’s work since her first, Garden Spells, was chosen by Barnes & Noble. I snapped up her second, The Sugar Queen, as soon as it hit the shelves.

She is my favorite kind of novelist—a total original—who surprises and delights. I can’t get over how her mind works.

The stories are all set in imaginary small town South, peopled with quirky characters.
Oh, then there’s the magic. Not your ordinary magic, mind ya. And not too much of it. It dances around the edges. Her characters take to it naturally—natural magic? Does that make any sense? It sort of reminds me of a warmed-up version of the old TV series Northern Exposure, an all time fave.

Two examples from her latest which won’t ruin anything: bedroom wallpaper that changes patterns according to the occupant’s mood; and a sugarholic that can not only “sense” but “see” cakes being baked from afar in the form of sparks in the wind.

It’s not that her works are devoid of tragedy. But they are never allowed to overpower the plot or the book’s inhabitants. What can I say? I like a happy ending.

I repeat: I like my literature better than real life.

Then there’s her impeccable sense of place. She breathes life into those Southern towns, as only a native can. She does for her mythical South what Harlan Coben does for the real New Jersey. And I’ve already read his latest.

Now what the heck am I gonna do?