Worldbuilding with Tanya Egan Gibson
By David Baker
Four heirloom beet slices—one golden, two albino, onestriped—next to a Cyrillic drizzle of dressing above apatch of bitter greens had constituted the composedsalad. The ‘tower’ of veal medallions and foie gras hadtaken longer to deconstruct than to eat.
Are we at home, about to start dinner? No, this is not theworld most of us are used to. It’s the one created byTanya Egan Gibson, our featured speaker for the March20 meeting. Gibson’s debut novel,
How to Buy a Love of Reading
, published by Dutton in May 2009 and by Palmein paperback in July 2010, supplied the quotation above.The contrast between the real world and the one we feelentitled to is central to
How to Buy a Love of Reading
,which features Carley Wells, a high school junior at aprivate school in a wealthy community. Carley’s parents,in unrelenting competition with their upscale peers,attempt to correct their daughter’s shortcomings, chiefamong them a lack of interest in reading. They hire alive-in writer to create a book Carley can appreciate, andthe fun—or should we say assault on pretentions of thewell-to-do—begins.An alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers,Gibson pays close attention to setting and description,the focus of her presentation at the March 20 meeting.“Exciting, dynamic characters are catalyzed,” she
photo credit: Lisa Keating
writes, “from exciting, dynamic settings. We willdiscuss how to create settings that draw in the reader,how to avoid falling into boring-but-comfortable settingtraps, and how to research exotic settings withouthaving to leave your maybe-not-so-exotic home.”What does Gibson mean by “setting-traps”? Find out atthe meeting. Join the discussion and learn techniquesfor building the world your characters inhabit.
Review of Novella Carpenter’s
By Alon Shalev
Many books tell about people’s personal crusade to get back to nature, whether heading out tothe wilds or bringing the farm into the urban setting. Novella Carpenter’s
stands outfor me because it is a stone’s throw from where I live.I found this a cool book to read. You get a flavor for the neighborhood and the people whoshare, often with a healthy dose of skepticism, how Novella’s project grows. This is not a how-to book, though a lot can be learned of what to do and what not to do. Novella’s unabashedhonesty hooks you.I was captivated for most of the book. It does seem that the emphasis of the book moved towards animal rearing,which is not something that I, in my mostly veggie lifestyle, could relate to. If you want to follow the progress of thelittle farm in the city, Ghost Town Farm is the name of Novella’s blog. Check it out.
Alon Shalev is the author of
The Accidental Activist
A Gardener’s Tale
. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco HillelFoundation, a nonprofit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on AlonShalev at www.alonshalev.com