You may or may not remember that back in March of this year I set out to read all the books written by Gail Bowen and talked about it in the blog post, Reading an author’s complete oeuvre – a suggestion.
That proved to be a very enjoyable task I set for myself, and I’m happy to say that I completed reading all of Gail’s Joanne Kilbourn novels and the four Rapid Reads titles on July 15th. It was great not only to revisit my friend’s writing but to see the development in the characters throughout her series – to really get to know those characters – and also to marvel at the craftsmanship that went into the writing of each of these books. Now I am truly ready for the publication of Bowen’s newest book, The Gifted, which is being released next month.
So, when casting around for another favourite author’s complete oeuvre to read, I decided that there was none better than Richard Ford, My Favourite Living Author.
Favourite Living Author is not an honour I bestow lightly, either! The first to hold that position was Graham Greene. Then he died. Second to be appointed was Brian Moore. But then he died, too. So Ford is only the third author to hold this position in my heart, and I do hope he continues to hold it for a very long time. He can only lose it by dying … or by writing something really awful, but I doubt he is capable of doing that.
So I begin at the beginning with Richard Ford’s first novel, A Piece of My Heart, published in 1976. It’s been a long time since I read this and Ford’s other earlier works. Already I can tell that reading these books will be an antidote for any of the bad writing I’ve had the displeasure to read over this past while. You know, the books you pick up in great anticipation only to put down again after having spent far too much valuable time on them, hoping they won’t be the disappointment you suspect they actually will be. Ford’s writing is perfect in every way!
I see that all copies of his books I have on my shelf are signed (except Women Without Men) and I do have the lot of them! And Independence Day is signed: For Susan, with my gratitude, and with the pleasure of meeting you. *Sigh* Major Author Crush here, folks!
I met Richard Ford for the third time in Calgary last Fall when he was at the Calgary Public Library for an on-stage interview with Aritha van Herk to promote his most recent novel, Canada.
In the meantime, while I’m enjoying visiting with Richard Ford once again, here’s an article for you to read about Richard Ford that ran in today’s Boston Globe.
That post title sounds kind of weird, but honestly, I don’t mean anything obscene here. Oeuvre, if you didn’t know, refers to an artist’s work of art or the complete body of work. In this case, I’m talking Authors specifically and their entire output of published books.
And I’m beginning with my long-time friend, Gail Bowen. When Gail posted a copy of the cover for her new book, 14th in the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series, The Gifted, that will be released in August, 2013, I decided it was time to go back and begin at the beginning – always a good place to begin, don’t you think? – and reread the previous 13 novels.
Gail and I, we have a history, you see. I was her sales rep for that very first novel, Deadly Appearances, when it was published by Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., oh-so-many-years-ago, in 1990. And for the second, Murder at the Mendal, and even the third, The Wandering Soul Murders. I had a great time then, driving across Alberta and Saskatchewan, spreading the word about this NEW author who was not only writing IN the backyard of those very Prairies, but also ABOUT the place. That was a lot of fun! Gail and I, and Gail’s husband Ted, have remained in contact, and have been friends, ever since.
So I thought it was high time to revisit those books that take up a considerably impressive amount of shelf space, going back to read of Joanne’s life and her stories, solving crimes in her hometown (and, coincidentally, also Gail’s hometown) of Regina, Saskatchewan. This way, my memory of the events will be completely refreshed in time for the new release in August.
And now here’s the suggestion part of the post title … Consider doing this yourself with your own favourite writer: Reread, in order, all the books they have published (great idea if they’ve written a series, but also of benefit if you wish to see how they have progressed as an author). Just for fun, but also to become reacquainted with that author’s writing all over again, and remember what it was you enjoyed about their writing in the first place. I bet you will discover new aspects, ideas, nuances that you didn’t notice the first time you read their books. Then, either while you’re reading or after you’ve finished, tell the author what you’ve been doing – obviously, only if they are still living. You can usually contact any author through their most-recent publisher or through their website. I can guarantee that any author will be thrilled to receive a letter telling them you’ve been a long-time fan, have recently undertaken rereading their complete output, and that you are still a fan – or maybe even more of a fan now.
And don’t forget to tell the rest of us what you’re reading, too – why you believe this author to be one of the very best, and how much you’re enjoying rereading their books. And why we should consider reading all of this particular author’s books, as well. Please feel free to post in the comments below if you plan to take part in this “Rereading My Favourite Author” idea, or post a link to your blog if you have one. I don’t want to call this a “challenge” at all, because there’s no competition intended – you either do this or you don’t. But I thought it would provide you with a new way of reading – a directed way of reading that might appeal to some readers, and it could also give everyone a list of interesting authors to consider perusing the next time we’re looking for a good read.
(Plus, it’s not a bad way of giving the old backlist some much-needed dusting off and attention – wink-wink, nudge-nudge!)