Friday, September 28, 2012

What is Julia Keller reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Julia Keller, author of A Killing in the Hills.

Her entry begins:
I’ve heard many writers say that they don’t like to read during the time period when they’re toiling away on their own books because they fear the dreaded incursion of style-creep: Their work may inadvertently pick up stray bits of inflection and random echoes of emphasis. (Willa Cather solved this by only reading the bible prior to a day of writing—not from an excess of piety, but because those solemn cadences are like scales on a piano.)

I seem to be impervious to style-creep. In fact, it’s the opposite for me: I think I write in ornery opposition to what I read. And frankly, if I had to give up one or the other—writing or reading—it would have to be the former. The latter is too crucial.

I read in frantic bunches and motley multitudes. Always have. And right now, the wobbly stack of books on the little table adjacent to my reading chair—a tower that always threatens collapse as a consequence of its ceiling-scraping plentitude—includes the following:

The Book in the Renaissance (2010) by Andrew Pettegree, is a marvelous survey of the first century and a half after Gutenberg did his thing. It’s written with style and wit, filled with fascinating tidbits—ever wonder how and why italic was invented?—as it reminds us that the book business has always been crazy-volatile and subject to the whims of...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
In A Killing in the Hills, a powerful, intricate debut from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it's too late.

What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?

One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, WV. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.

After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good—in fact, putting her own life in danger?
Learn more about the book and author at Julia Keller's website.

Writers Read: Julia Keller.

--Marshal Zeringue