Monday, May 30, 2011
The Authors Who Enchant Me
You’re in a bookstore, just browsing, and you spot a book by an author you know, an author you love. It’s a new book, just published, and you buy it without even reading the dust jacket, summary, back cover praises or anything else. The author’s name is sufficient.
There are a few authors I trust implicitly. They generally fall into the literary fiction and mystery/suspense categories. Some are Christians; some are not. All are good writers. Some are no longer living, but I will reread them. And I’ve never been disappointed.
Simply put, they’ve enchanted me to the point where I’ve internalized their writing.
Among the deceased writers are Flannery O’Connor, John Mortimer (Rumpole!), Dashiell Hammett and S.S. Van Dine (the Philo Vance mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s), Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.
Among the living literary writers are Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes, Fred Chappell, Scott Cairns and Frederick Buechner.
Some of the mystery/suspense writers are Elizabeth George, Arturo Perez-Reverte Travis, Thrasher and Mike Dellosso. For many people, you can say the words “Stephen King” and watch them get a dreamy look in their eyes.
And Athol Dickson and Dale Cramer. Athol Dickson keeps writing extraordinary novel after extraordinary novel. Dale Cramer even persuaded me to read what I thought I would never read – an Amish romance.
I ask myself, what is it about these writers that so enchants me? Why will I not even think twice to buy a book by them I haven’t read, or immediately read an article they’ve written in a magazine or online journal?
It’s more than good writing. There’s lots of good writing out there, across all publishing genres and across the web, for that matter. It’s not just good writing. Good writing is a given.
Guy Kawasaki, in Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, unintentionally answers my question. He’s writing primarily about enchanting causes, products and ideas, but what he says applies to writers as well. It’s about trust, and what makes them trustworthy to read. To paraphrase and build upon what Kawasaki says, this is how I answer my question.
They write with joy. That doesn’t mean they write about joyful things. It means what it says – they all write with joy, the joy of writing.
They write unexpectedly. None of these writers is formulaic or predictable. In their stories, they keep pushing themselves and their readers.
They write with generosity. They’re conscious of their readers, and while their goal may not be necessarily to please their readers, they don’t hold anything of themelves, or their stories, back.
They write with transcendence. Their stories transcend the printed (or electronic) page, wrapping themselves around our hearts to the point where the reader becomes one with the story.
And that’s how they enchant me.
Over at The High Calling, we’ve been discussing Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment. This week’s discussion focuses on Chapter 7, “How to Make Enchantment Endure,” and chapter 8, “How to Use Push Technology.” To see more posts on the discussion, please visit The High Calling.