Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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How are writers garbage pickers?

white-male-2064827_1920When I arrived at the gym yesterday, I parked the car next to the Big 5 Sporting Goods store’s huge garbage containers, located in my gym’s parking area. I felt embarrassed for the man I saw lurking behind the bins. He wore a baseball cap and tried to appear invisible as he rummaged through the trash. The image of him prowling there stayed with me, and I couldn’t help but think of it as a metaphor for writers.

Writers are garbage pickers. They dig in the dregs of daily life, searching for stories they can embellish, selecting details from their family, friends, and acquaintance’s conversations/lives that illuminate the most elusive corners of our existence. I’m currently reading Joyce Carol Oates latest short story collection, Beautiful Days, and so many of the tales are anything but beautiful. In fact, one Amazon reviewer says, “The characters are unlike anyone that I know or would care to know. Very strange.”

Oates has clearly dug into the surface of our days to reveal what’s hidden from ordinary view. Her stories bring the reader close to situations and emotions we might otherwise avoid. There’s the teenager whose mother has kept him an emotional prisoner and refused to reveal his real father’s identity. When the father does turn up unexpectedly, it has a powerful and unexpected impact on the young man. Or the woman whose stepdaughter dies in a car crash. The stepmother feels the young woman’s death might have been avoided if the stepmother hadn’t ignored her phone call, made not long before the accident.

Each story confronts the reader with material we might prefer to toss in the garbage but refuses to be dismissed so easily. In other words, Oates (and many other writers) is exploring what the psychologist Carl Jung would call our shadow side, the parts of our personalities we’d prefer to ignore as they challenge our sense of who we are. But in order to have a truer picture of ourselves, we need to delve into that level. This is true both individually and collectively and reminds me of a radio drama I loved as a kid: “The Shadow.” The introduction went as follows: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” And then we were off on another adventure into that world. Oates is doing something similar in the way she examines her characters’ secret, interior lives, as are so are many serious writers.

Another work I’m currently reading, Sylvia Warner Townsend’s debut novel Lolly Willowes, reveals painful truths about urban and country life from her perspective early in the 20th Century when so many women were under their family’s (often male) domination. Lolly, in mid-life, finally breaks free from her brother and sister-in-law’s “care” and establishes a life for herself in a tiny country community where women seem more empowered. In scintillating prose, Sylvia Townsend Warner, a masterful garbage picker, unearths an unexpected aspect of female influence.

It’s true that garbage can get smelly and our impulse is to conceal it—to bury it underground. But it’s also true that certain kinds of garbage can be effective compost, fertilizing the earth. Something similar happens when writers aren’t afraid to dig into the emotions and actions that are a big part of being human. It’s where our most enlightening stories originate!

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Thanks to Mary Helen Sheriff and Author Talk Network for this post: “Book Marketing: The magic behind the fairytale of a book’s success”

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On my blog today, Linda Rosen talks about how women reinvent themselves in her novels despite obstacles thrown their way!

6 Comments

  1. Very true, Lily. We really need to delve deep to get to the hearts and souls of our characters. Keep up the good work, Diana

  2. I love this blog, Lily. Well said.

  3. You’ve really gotten me interested in reading both books. They are going on my TBR list to help me celebrate when I finish getting my taxes filed. Found your post via #MondayBlogs.

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