Archives for Iowa

I agree with… Jane Smiley

When writing ‘Some Luck’, Jane Smiley tried something new… she set herself a daily word target. “Then as I got further along in the book I would increase the number of words I had to write each day… I wanted the energy to build and I thought maybe the faster I went, the faster the energy would build as [volumes two and three of the trilogy] progressed.” In an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine [September 5, 2014] I’ve never set a wordcount target like this, but Smiley’s comments about energy are interesting. It is certainly true that when I’m ‘on a roll’ I just write, I forget about time or wordcount, and I amaze myself at how much I have written. I guess that’s the energy she’s talking about here, the energy of the writer does translate to the page. I did read some writing advice: to finish mid-sentence and pick it up again in the same place the following day. I don’t think that would work for me. Some Luck is the first of a trilogy which follows the story of the same family over 100 years. In 1920, Walter Langdon returns from the battlefields of the Great War,
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: Some Luck

It is 1920, the eve of Walter Langdon’s 25th birthday and he is walking the fields of his Iowa farm. The first two pages of Some Luck by Jane Smiley are a wonderful description of him watching a pair of owls nesting in a big elm tree. And so starts the first book in this trilogy about the Langdon family. Chapter-by-chapter it tells of the family’s life, their farm, the ups and downs of daily life, births and deaths, and always the land. At first it feels as if not much is happening. Smiley is so good at the detail: of Walter farming, Rosanna doing the laundry, babies being born, growing into toddlers and then pupils walking the track to the tiny school where they are taught with their neighbours in one classroom, all ages together. Steadily the chapters, and years, march on. The eldest child Frankie goes away to college and then to war, becoming a sniper in Africa and Europe. His younger brother Joe shows no inclination to leave the farm. Lillian, ‘God’s own gift’, the beautiful daughter, meets a man and goes to Washington DC. And so more babies arrive into the Langdon’s household, and the family’s
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Categories: Book Love.