Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Muse by Fred Warren

The Muse by
Fred Warren

I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did. I expected it to be okay (or I wouldn’t have volunteered to read it at all), but I didn’t expect to get sucked in and be sitting up 'til 3:30 AM to finish (not because I didn’t have time the next day, but because I was unwilling to WAIT until then). Surprisingly gripping and very well written. I’m not sure how much of my enjoyment can be attributed to the fact that the main characters are all struggling authors and very easy to relate to. I think anyone who is artistic in other media could easily identify as well. It’s about creativity and sparks of inspiration and what we do with imagination.

I was also suprised that the hero was actually a married man with a day job and a daughter and a dog and a mortgage. This was suprising because the cover image looked to me like a high school or college-age D&D gamer type guy. Stan Marino starts out unpublished. Not only that, but he’s still working on his first novel and he’s written himself into a corner and he’s blocked in a huge way. I can so relate to all of that.

Now, he has a nice little support group which meets at a terrific indie bookstore-slash-coffee house called Pensive Aardvark (is that a cool name, or what?). In Stan’s words: “We all complain about how badly the writing is going, then we read our samples, cry on each others’ shoulders, drink about fifteen cups of coffee, and go home.” So already I am wishing I was part of this group.

Evidently, someone else wants in on the group too. Leila, the mysterious newcomer who makes a few suggestions and gives each of them a push in the right direction, seems to be the muse they need to propel their writing careers forward in a big way. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is and it isn’t.

It’s very hard to discuss The Muse’s plot without giving away little gems that are integral to enjoying the ride. Most of the main characters’ discoveries would be spoiled if you were robbed of discovering these things WITH them. I don’t want to rob anyone of that most enjoyable ride. The Muse is a very quick read, with no words wasted, so why not just treat yourself?

Warning: the ending is bittersweet. You may want a box of tissue handy. I would read the book again, but skip the end since I already know it’s just going to make me cry. There’s no way I could have skipped the end the first time though. Way too much suspense. You HAVE to know how it ends. Just have tissues ready.

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  1. Hi, Caprice!

    I'm glad you enjoyed The Muse. The most encouraging thing I've heard about the book, from several people, is, "I couldn't put it down." Running a close second is, "I cried." When my wife read the manuscript and told me that, I knew I was onto something.

    If I can write a story that people want to keep reading, and it makes an emotional connection with them, that's two-thirds of the way to victory. If it lingers with them after they close the cover and inspires reflection, then it's moved beyond being just a bit of light entertainment, and I feel like I've done something meaningful.

  2. Well you certainly delivered on both accounts: couldn't put it down AND cried. Great job, Fred!

  3. Excellent review Caprice. Some great insights and I had forgotten about the ending until you brought it up. This is one of those books that is at once comical and serious, real and fantasy, powerful and intoxicating. As I said in my review on the CFRB home page, while a slow reader I finished this in 2 days. To some that may seem like a long time, but for me it was over almost too fast. I loved it, and everything about it.

  4. If Caprice likes it, that's really saying something. Your approval is highly treasured!
    The cover model is in fact 27 - perhaps a tad young for Stan's lifestyle, but doesn't the hair make up for it?

  5. I have to confess I got a little misty-eyed myself when I wrote the ending, and it wasn't just because I was finished. :)