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Vacation Fix, and The Night Circus

February 28, 2013 by Kiersi

I found this hilarious Pulp Magazine Cover Generator via children’s author Nathan Bransford. And I think “She wrote until HER FINGERS FELL OFF” is very relevant to today’s post.

The blog has been radio silent because I went on vacation. As in, I peeled myself away from the computer, left the manuscript print-out I’ve been slaving over lying prone on the ottoman with slightly curling corners, and got the hell out of Dodge.

It was a while ago when my Significant Other said, “Whoa, Kiersi, you need to take a day off.”

And I was all, “Sure, I’ll take tomorrow off.” And then it would sort of half-happen. There were deadlines to meet, manuscripts to revise, new ideas and concepts to lay out in Scrivener. Too many things to do to take a day off.

I didn’t even realize it, but it was fraying me like the rope between a water buffalo and a tree. Each day got less and less productive, so I spent more and more time to make up for it, and that only made it worse.

So when scheduled vacation time arrived (and by vacation I mean taking care of my elderly relatives and occasionally getting a moment away to jog down to the beach, not to complain or anything, but really) I left it all behind. I brought along a book and my Game Boy and tried not to touch my computer unless it was absolutely meteorite-to-Earth necessary.

Sometimes it’s not until you heed some well-deserved and earnestly-prescribed advice that you realize what you were missing. I opened my laptop the morning after getting back from the trip and suddenly it was all there again.

I had this incredible clarity of purpose, this absolute focus that I’d forgotten was possible, scratching to-do items off my list like a woman with checkmarks for fingers. And yes, the lesson has been learned:

Sometimes you just need to take a damn vacation.

So I read this incredible book, and I’m sure you’ve heard of it, and you’ve probably already read it, but if you haven’t, I want SO BADLY to tell you about it.

This book is called The Night Circus. This book is by some brilliant woman who apparently goes by the name Erin Morgenstern. And if I were to hedge a bet, I would hedge that Erin Morgenstern is a genius.

Here it is:

I used this zoomed-in version of the cover so you can get a good, clear picture of the clock. Why? Because the clock is this book. It’s a complex series of parts, all moving together, intricately-woven, to create a masterwork. Really, Morgenstern stitched together a cosmic display of cinematic delight, of sight and sound and smell and old-fashioned feels.

So, yeah. This book is about a circus. It’s about a circus that only opens at night, about a circus that is the venue for something much greater, much larger than just a circus. There are two competitors in the game, and they are both strangely-carved people, both the proteges of fabulous old magicians who have completely lost touch with the world. And there’s other stuff: there’s gardens made of ice, and bottles filled with incense that make you relive lost moments in time, and many other marvelous illusions.

But what got me about The Night Circus was the style. It’s like the unicorn of the third-person narrative, the zenith of a structure that so few authors can conquer with such aplomb. We rarely get to see inside any of the characters and yet, the choice of third-person omniscient was perfect for this story. This book contains many characters, but the reader is never confused; it shifts between time and space and perspective, and yet it never flusters; and that’s really the only way I can explain it.

What’s really fabulous is hearing the click when each of Morgenstern’s pieces start to snap into place. A picture forms in front of you and you gasp and say, “Of course!”

That is my favorite feeling. That is why I loved this book and you should go out and read it right now if you haven’t already.

Oh, and, vacation.


19 Comments »

  1. Count your blessings, Kiersi! I would love to have all those things you mentioned that needed attention on your day off. It’s worse when you have nothing like that going on; the “slow ketchup race” is not as much fun as you might think.

  2. cjmcgean says:

    A friend recommended this book to me a few weeks ago, and now I am sold. It sounds right up my alley.

  3. Ruth says:

    Kiersi,

    Welcome back! I’m glad you got a semi-breather. I hope the “elderly relatives” to whom you refer are not your parents ‘cuz they’re my age and I’m not copping to “elderly” for another few years at least : ).

    The Night Circus is indeed a book of wonders and glory. Morgenstern (who looks rather like you; did you notice?) pulls off a stunning magic trick of her own; despite the intricate structure, the book flows and the prose is sonorous. There were many plot twists I didn’t see coming; it’s been a while since I’ve read a book so intriguing. I thrust the novel on my kids and a friend.

    Maybe we could start a cult …

    • Kiersi says:

      Haha! I did not notice that she looks like me. Dang. And by my elderly relatives I mean my 92-year-old grandmother and my grouchy grandfather 🙂

  4. unsquare says:

    I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Jim Dale. He makes everything even better.

    • Kiersi says:

      Ha! It’s interesting to me how audiobooks really alter our experience of a story. I’d be curious just to hear some of it.

  5. M. Ziegler says:

    I had a friend read this book and her book group gave it some mixed reviews. Maybe it should go on the TBR list. Glad you got away!!

    • Kiersi says:

      Really?! I would be super curious to hear what the negative reviews have to say. I can definitely see the third-person approach not working for some people–you don’t “feel” a lot as you read, because the characters don’t have inner monologue. Readers who prefer 1st person narratives might not like it.

  6. Why do vacations sometimes turn into more work? Loved your review of The Night Circus. I’ll have to add it to my enormous TBR list. I’m drowning in edits at the moment and I’m trying to squeeze in about 20 minutes of reading a day, but that’s about all I can fit. *sigh*

    • Kiersi says:

      Ugh, I know! You have to plan where to go, and how to get there, and what time to go, and buy tickets for things, and sometimes all you really want to do is lie on your back on the beach and go to sleep.

      Sorry to hear about editing taking over your life–hopefully, it’s temporary. Sometimes I find taking even just a half of a day off to read a book makes my work time so much more efficient, and makes up the difference!

  7. James says:

    Kiersi,

    You mentioned in the fourth paragraph that you use Scrivener. If you are interested in interacting with other Scrivener users, there is a public community for Scrivener Users on Google+. We have over 160 members. Since this is a public community you can read the community page before you decide whether or not you want to participate or not.

    https://plus.google.com/communities/109597039874015233580

  8. Claudine G. says:

    Hope you had a great vacation, even if it was a short one! (Or else just take another one. Why not? 🙂 ) I have ‘The Night Circus’ on my to-read pile. Have had it since last year but haven’t got through my read-nows to get to it. The cover is amazing! (Okay, bumping it up the list.) Thanks for sharing, Kiersi.

    • Kiersi says:

      It looks like I am taking another one in a week and a half or so–going on a short backpacking trip with my bestie. So two short vacations makes a long one, right?

      Definitely recommend The Night Circus, especially if you need inspiration. I learned SO much from it. I’ll be curious to hear what you think, Claudine.

  9. Writerlious says:

    Gosh, now I really need to read this!! I keep hearing how good it is. I am so impressed by the fact that this was a NaNoWriMo novel, too. Makes me want to read it even MORE!

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