I am VERY TIRED of books about awful people being awful to other awful people. I have read a rash of them. They were fun, but NOW I am hungry for something else. SOMETHING VERY SPECIFIC.
I want to read a book that fulfills ALL the requirements below. Not because the kind described below is the only kind of book I like, but because I am so hungry for this kind right now. It is like — when you are CRAVING PIZZA, the best quiche in the world can leave you cold. SO. Here is what I seek:
1) A NOVEL. No non fic, memoir, bio even if it “reads like a novel.” No short fiction. No plays; I want a novel.
2) It should be character driven, and the drivers should be complicated characters with both serious flaws and strengths who are chasing goodness in some vigorous way. I want to read about people who are trying to connect, who love and hope in this broken world, or who seek the divine. Even though it is about goodness or the search for connection, I can NOT manage anything remotely sentimental or smug. NO SYRUP! No kittens in the snow on Christmas with a thorny paw. No good good people and bad bad people with clear, clean lines. I want the real dark world, and to be shown what is light in it. Bad things can (should) happen, but I need the grace notes to be SO beautiful.
3) I want it to have a PLOT. I want there to be movement and interest. Beauty and hope is not enough. SOMETHING SHOULD HAPPEN.
4) The writing should be good, of course, but a specific kind of good. I don’t want invisible, commercial prose (even if it is impeccable) or DENSE fudge-y writing with sentences like almost-poems (even if it is impeccable). I don’t want a great story that is poorly or plainly told, or great writing so layered and nuanced that it overshadows story. I want interesting, unexpected images or a rich, specific voice-i-ness. Let the writing lean into literary territory. Heck, it can lean HARD into the literary, but it should stop WELL SHORT of being Henry James.
5) By the end, I want to have laughed out loud, cried, and remembered why I like humans.
If nothing comes to mind, here are some well known novels that I think do all these things “brightly, brightly and with beauty.”
The Dog Stars
Water for Elephants
The Gods of Gotham
Shine Shine Shine
The Solace of Leaving Early
Read anything like these? PLEASE TELL ME. I am book-hungry.