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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Reads: Audrey Niffenegger's Fiction

Audrey Niffenegger is an original, a rare thing these days. Her fiction is solid, rich and intriguingly inventive. I love writers who present consistent puzzling throughout a story; if you do too, you'll love her work.

The first Niffenegger book I read was Her Fearful Symmetry, a novel about a woman who finds herself a ghost and haunts her old apartment and those she knew and loved in life. It almost defies description as it's such a densely packed story and so entwined there's no way to tell the plotline without giving away too much. Her characters are nearly uncomfortably vivid, portrayed sympathetically and at the same time mercilessly human. Her use of language is beautiful. It's one of the few books I've read that indelibly impressed itself in my mind. As a lifelong horror reader I've become jaded, but Niffenegger goes beyond all standards here. This is literature. A damned good read that will haunt you.

Next I read her The Three Incestuous Sisters, an adult picture book. She illustrates as well as she writes. Sparsely worded, it's more a long poem than a novel, but the art tells the story in a Gorey-esque way. And a bizarre story it is, too. It's not everyone's cup of tea.

Right now I'm reading The Traveler's Wife, her best-known and biggest seller. I'm years behind the rest of the world in discovering Henry and Claire. To my knowledge, nobody's ever created such a book before. A good writer tells a tale; a great writer creates a new reality. Niffenegger is a great writer. Treat yourself to a Niffenegger book. They aren't just stories.

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