I have not been this impressed with a first novel since Michael Chabon’s Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The characters, the plot, the pacing…all spectacularly well done. The writing is mature, confident, lyrical…it reminds me of Mark Helprin, an author whom I think writes like an angel. But the thing that impresses me most is how the narrator, who is only a child for most of the book, comes across as a child in her understanding of the adults around her and in her friends, while also conveying the angst of her mother, who is dying and writing of her own life to serve as guidance to her daughter. Marcia Coffey Turnquist juggles these counterpoints so successfully she makes it look easy, and natural, which lets the universal themes of family, life and death, friendship, and growing up shine through. This is an astonishing, beautiful book. Everyone should read it.
No, I’m not sounding much like a writer at the moment, but that’s my honest response: Wow. To be compared to a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winner? To have my writing described as “mature, confident, lyrical” and reminiscent of Mark Helprin who “writes like and angel”? Like I said: Wow.
The words blissful, divine, incredible, fantastic and cloud nine also come to mind. I admit–quite sheepishly–I haven’t read Helprin, so, just today, ordered one of his books, A Soldier of the Great War, and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I have read Michael Chabon though, author of Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, so I’m intensely humbled to have The God of Sno Cone Blue compared to his first novel–a story that launched a luminous, Pulitzer-Prize winning career.
A short tale
Speaking of stories, there’s a short one behind this wonderful review (filed August 20th) of my book. It starts just over a week ago as I sat on my little stool at the Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market where I am most Saturdays among vendors of produce and hand-crafted wares, a card table with my books before me and teetering expectations for more sales. A couple came near, among many who strolled the tents, and I called out, as I often do, “Are you a reader?”
What I learned in the next few minutes turned the question into a joke. Bob Colwell–as I now know him–is not just a reader, but, if I may coin a phrase, a super reader. He tears through hundreds of books per year. HUNDREDS. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, and assuming the lowest description of hundreds as two hundred, it means he’s reading four books a week–at least! How does he do it? By always having a book with him, he says, and in various rooms of his house–kitchen, bathroom, den, etc.,–so that there’s always something to read as he moves about, or when he’s bored with one topic he can pick up another.
And here’s how I know that Bob’s genuine. He bought a copy of my book the morning I met him and, within days, got back to me not only in detail but with news of his incredible review on Amazon. Here he is, a man I’ve just met who consumes hundreds of books, calling The God of Sno Cone Blue the best book he’s read in years. He also describes it as an astonishing, beautiful book and says everyone should read it. Again, wow.
What’s even better, Bob said my novel kept him from picking up other books as he traveled about his house: He didn’t want to leave my story. Now that’s what I call an endorsement.
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