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Contemplating winter break and an English PhD

Posted by bostonki on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

The exams have been taken, the dorm packed, the suitcase left laying on the floor in my room, the holidays celebrated, and the boredom beginning to kick in.

I always find winter break to be exceptionally painful post-New Year’s.  There’s nothing to be done unless you work part-time (which thank goodness will take up some of my January), and it’s not like there are too many outdoor activities going on in Buffalo.  A large chunk of my break is usually spent complaining about how at any second I could physically die of boredom, and then subsequently tearing through a 300-page novel in two days.

Yesterday, I finished the most delightful mystery/thriller novel (undoubtedly my favorite genre), You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott.  The plot follows elite competitive gymnast Devon, whose parents will do anything to see her realize what they think is her dream of someday reaching the Olympics.  The story is an unsuspiciously normal murder mystery, until the last 100 pages.

I’m not here to discuss the plot, however, but the author herself.  Her style of writing was something that I’ve never really encountered before in a novel.  She splits the pieces of the puzzle up into seemingly unimportant fragments, somehow managing to keep the cast of characters’ emotions and memories amazingly realistic as we travel through the story.  An emotion that a character displayed on page twenty three could come back to haunt us on page two hundred and twenty nine.  I also noticed how her interactions between characters are different.  There is less identification in the conversations as to who’s talking and more action.  The reader feels as if they are watching a conversation play out right before their eyes.  I’m not an English major, nor know much about what these differences could be, but I do know that they are there.

The author has a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University.  Is there something to this extra experience and education that results in the differences I felt reading her novels compared to others?  The change was certainly welcoming.  I may have to read around and figure this out for myself.