By K.B. Dixon
Inkwater Press 2013
Received from Author for Review
Author Stephen Styles has donated his personal papers to the University of Washington. Students studying library science compiled the papers into the book Novel Ideas. The slim volume holds his letters and emails to his friend and fellow writer Alan Dodd. Styles ponders the differences between writing fiction and nonfiction, updates Dodd on what is going on in his personal life, and muses about why one becomes a writer in the first place.
Novel Ideas would be a great read for someone who doesn't have many opportunities to sit and read for a long stretch. It is broken up into little snippets, so it would be easy to read a page or just a few paragraphs. The detriment of this, of course, is that it can sometimes feel like it lacks a real narrative structure. Characters are introduced and then forgotten just as quickly. Random thoughts are recorded and then left hanging. For example, "Have you ever wanted to drive a bulldozer? I have not. But, of course, now as I think about it...well..." And that's it. Bulldozers are given no more thought and there is no context in this book for discussing bulldozers in the first place.
This book has a sort of dry humor to it and it certainly has some real insight into the life of an author. Finding inspiration and the will to continue writing are common problems and our protagonist observes them wryly and with hope that he will find a muse and eventually, success as a writer. This book is less a chance to get to know a character and follow a story than it is a look into the inner life of a writer.
To the ladies and gents of the FTC: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.