Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tony Earley and The Blue Star

After finishing Tony Earley’s new novel The Blue Star, I spent much of yesterday in a bit of a daze, reluctant to leave this perfect gem of a book.

The long-awaited sequel to Jim the Boy, Earley’s critically acclaimed bestseller, The Blue Star takes up Jim’s story when, as a senior in high school at the beginning of WWII, he falls in love with Chrissie, a beautiful, half-Cherokee classmate. But Chrissie is the reluctant girlfriend of an older boy, recently enlisted in the Navy, and Jim’s path to true love is full of obstacles.

The writing is spare and heart-breakingly beautiful. Set in rural North Carolina, this deceptively simple story is a small masterpiece.

Full disclosure along with name-dropping: I’m proud to claim acquaintance with Tony Earley. We met at a book fair, back when I had an agent but no publisher as yet and he was kind and encouraging to an aspiring author of (oh dear) genre mysteries. Then, when my first book came out, he was even kinder, taking time from his writing and teaching to read my book and give it a nice quote. (I suspect that the Little Sylvie part of the book was more nearly his cup of tea than the rest.) He has continued to go out of his way to encourage me whenever our paths have crossed -- and one of my fondest memories is of having dinner with him and his lovely wife and daughter, after which Tony read me a story of his which would soon be in The New Yorker. Is that cool, or what!?! (Do I sound like a groupie?)

If I had fully realized, back when I first met him, what an amazing and important writer Tony is, I’d never have had the nerve to do more than humbly ask for his autograph. Luckily for me, he’s as nice a person as the folks he writes about.

The New York Times reviewed the book at length on Thursday --
(And by the way, I heartily disagree with this reviewer’s two small quibbles. What the reviewer found fault with, I particularly enjoyed.)

And tomorrow, it’s the lead story for the NYT Book Review. With a review by Scott Turow.

Couldn’t happen to a better writer or a nicer guy!
Posted by Picasa

No comments: