1. I still start posts with “Wow. How do I start this?”. Beginnings aren’t always easy. Writers know this. Sometimes your beginning unfolds at the end of the story. I think that’s pretty awesome- writers are time travelers. I thought about saying writers invented time travel but I dare not upset scientists for the sake of a joke. I rang in 2014 with friends I loved- we broke plates and danced and laughed and promised this year we’d leave the crappiest parts of 2013 behind, frolic and flourish like no year before. Well…. we did do all that …eventually but I don’t think we knew just how different 2014 was going to end from how it started. Still, with how amazing it is for me right now, in this moment- as I write this post with a little over 6 hours left in the year- I think we brought in this year in the best style. I look back at pictures from the past 365 1/4 days and I am content.
daniel josé older
This book is the best introduction into the genre of urban fantasy any reader could have.
It is clear that Daniel himself has his feet planted steadily (no shade to Carlos- get the book to get it) on both sides of the world of the living and that of the dead. He ushers us into the world of Salsa Nocturna so realistically and seamlessly that I was left feeling like this was the norm. The best part about the way the writer tells his stories is that while there are the usual ghostly characters who have unfinished business and who seek to cause mischief or harm to those of us who are living, he also writes about those who seek to do good, to bring justice to the living who are leading unjust lives and those who just want to be present among us because they want to maintain a connection with life. He makes the afterlife seem less scary. I was comforted by so many of these stories.
I was drawn in by the characters before I even got back stories and when their snippets of their histories were shared, I was even more captivated. Let me be honest, I was not in love with all of them- some are on my list of Permanent Side Eye Recipients and I’m not talking about the clear villains of each story.
I live-tweeted my thoughts while reading the first few stories because I was in a world of bewilderment when I read about Carlos’ and Gordo’s approach to the spirit world. I would not be in a crew with these two men because their idea of recreation did not align with mine and I was super okay with that. Skin Like Porcelain Death is that “WHAT THE HELL?! OH HELL NO!! NAA! BIND IT, LORD!” story for me. And as you continue reading, you realize that these stories are all actually linked to each other somehow, making this so much more than what you thought it would be at the beginning. The book became more than just a collection of stories put together to make me gasp and squirm and throw my hands in the air in judgmental frustration. At some point, before I even noticed, the stories began sticking to me- they connected. Protected Entity and Red Feather and Bone are my favourites, if I have to choose. They took me through a roller coaster of emotions for which I was grateful after reading. My favourite quote comes from The Collector (which you can read or listen for free here) but I’ll leave you to guess what it is.
Another one of the best features of his writing is that each story had a believable and necessary ending. Necessary, to me, in that the characters sometimes get what they want and when they don’t, it serves to carry the larger picture along in such a wonderful way, the reader is left satisfied. The ending of the book leaves you wanting more without having a cliffhanger. Story lines are resolved while possibilities for other story lines are masterfully created.
The one downfall of this book for me is the fact that there was not even one Jamaican present. All this duppy talk and not one o my people enter the mix? No sah. Do better, Mr. Older. But I won’t hold this against him too much as I’m sure he will indeed do better with his future books.
I recommend getting your own copy of this book. You’ll be glad you did.
And the best part of all- there will be more! Daniel José Older has written the PREQUEL to Salsa Nocturna called Half Resurrection Blues and it’s available for pre-order now and will be out January 2015 (that’s in just a few months! Eek!)
If nothing else makes you want to buy it, look at this sexy ass cover. JUST LOOK AT IT! Scrumptious!
I do hope you like it and feel free to leave your thoughts.
Until next post!
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It’s 6 am on a Saturday and my muse thought now was the best time to have a conversation.
I have not written in a while. I go several periods where I don’t write for a while.There are several writers who hold tight to the notion that we must write everyday to be real writers. This Salon article quotes an acclaimed writer saying such. I had several thoughts just from the heading- why is there always this pressure on writers to write now, to write today or to write everyday? My issue is decidedly really with the last one. Some ideas are best put down as soon as possible and sometimes we have deadlines and apparently there is something to the thought that it’s better to put down the garbage words you have now on paper so you can clear the way for the good stuff later. But there is also value in taking breaks, in mulling over before putting words to paper. For some, following a story means moving away from the writing desk and letting that story lead them to the final destination before documenting the journey.”Write when you’re ready to write”- Daniel José Older does a great job of leading a conversation about the harms of feeling like you have to write everyday. The conversation is Storify-ed here and I think it’s an important one for all writers to see.