Watching Glass Shatter, an October 2017 publication by blogging friend, James J Cudney, is a darned good read. It is his debut novel, but at least one more is almost ready for publication, Father Figure. If you like stories about the complexities of families, you’ll LOVE this one. With the unexpected death of Benjamin Glass, father of a family of five boys, we watch the Glass family shatter and try through the efforts of Olivia, Ben’s widow, try to mend itself. Olivia herself, shattered more than any widow would be, is further devastated by a confessional letter from Ben left behind. His “secret” involves one of their five sons, but the letter does not reveal which one.
Olivia decides to visit each son, in his home, as she tries to make sense of the letter and determine “which one” the letter refers to. Unknown to Olivia, each grown son has been keeping a secret from her and the family. Irony abounds, and I kept turning the pages to find out more answers and satisfy my curiosity.
Cudney’s characterization is excellent, and I came to care about all six of the major characters. (I had no trouble keeping the characters and secrets “straight” because of the author’s transitions and format of the chapters.) Each son is very different from the others (true in all families), yet the love and sense of family they all come to feel is heartwarming. Cudney’s word choices and phrasing are spot-on as well, sweeping the reader along in the action while the reader enjoys the appeal of the writing.
I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars, not because the writer is a blogging friend (I bought the book), but because, as a serious reader, I enjoy good writing, fine characterization, and a darned good read.
Adapted from Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser
“I am not fond of inconclusive endings, and I would not subject you to one if I didn’t think it necessary. I believe, as firmly as the next reader that the writer undertakes to deliver as promised, even if the promise is merely implied, and I get annoyed when the delivery goes missing.”
Have you ever read a book with an inconclusive ending that just left you “hanging”? Sometimes when the conclusion to a novel (or movie) has no satisfactory ending, I want to throw the book across the room, or I promise myself I’ll never watch a movie from that director again.
Lessing was reading a mystery novel and wrote the following:
“We had reached the final page, with the serial killer safely tucked away in the police station, and one of the two detectives who had apprehended the murderer casually asked the other to hazard a guess about the motive. What, she wondered, had caused the killer to commit his crimes in the first place–and why, having committed them, had he voluntarily sent in the obscure piece of evidence that in the end allowed him to be caught? ‘I doubt that he knows the answer to that himself.’ This was an ending? Clearly that author had just decided to pick up his check and go home early.”
Lazy authors don’t give closure or a real conclusion to their readers.