Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cabbages and Cobens

Something that has always fascinated me is the way cabbage coils and ruffles itself into the most amazing convoluted contortions as it grows. While preparing some red cabbage for drying, I think I spent more time just gazing at the patterns of the slices than I did with getting them ready.

This was supposed to be yesterday's post, you understand. That it turns out to be today's offering is all Harlan's fault.

Harlan Coben, that is. I hope you've had a chance to read his work. If not, I hope you find something he's written real soon because it will be a treat. The man does write a dandy story, indeed he does.

I got caught up in his Just One Look, something I'd read previously but enjoyed just as thoroughly the second time through. Before I knew it, the book was finished and so was Saturday. Too late for a blog post. Ah well.

The thing about Coben isn't just that he knows how to plot and pace a rockin' good yarn, he populates it with authentic folks who pique your interest, whether they're the Good Guys or the Villains. Not only that, he has that enviable talent for being able to mix heart-thudding suspense with wry humor in just the right balance. And here's a most excellent skill -- Coben knows how to feed the reader just the right amount of information, a little at a time. Enough to both illuminate and raise more questions, requiring you to turn pages to find more illumination.

You know how different public figures appeal to you (or not) in different ways? You would like to meet this person for one reason, that person for another. Coben strikes me as someone I'd love to meet and a big part of the lure is his sense of humor. It can be wickedly funny but never cruel. That's how I know Coben is a nice guy. Well, okay -- that and the fact that he can't help but reveal his nice-guyness in his writing. And I just figure he'd be fun to hang with because you could laugh your ass off without hurting or humiliating anybody.

And maybe if I hung out with him long enough, I could figure out how he does that twist thing he does so well. You know -- you're reading along in one direction, figuring stuff out and, boom! He gives the plot a twist. Whoa! Okay, now we're going in another direction and we're just starting to get that figured out when, blam! Another twist. And he keeps it up, cackling with unrepentant glee, until you're begging, "Stop, Myron! Just stop!" but you don't want him to stop because you're having too much fun and you can't believe he just twisted you yet again ...

It's a bit like when the Walrus and the Carpenter invited the oysters for a stroll along the beach and the Walrus said, "The time has come to talk of many things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings." And you are amazed at what a learned fellow that old Walrus is -- until you realize, with the twisted climax, he and the Carpenter have gobbled up all those naive young oysters.

So I can flash the cabbage shot at you all day long but if you want a good oyster feed, hang out with King Coben. You'll find him here, at his official web site.


Wendy said...

Dee, I just discovered Harlan Coben last weekend and I'm needing another fix already. Truly a fun read.

bb said...

I wonder if that is the one book I picked up while at your place and probably left on the seat of the kitchen chair?

The purple cabbage really shows off the curls more than the green ones do. Have to really look at the green ones. :-)

John Bailey said...

You're right on cabbages, Dee, and so I'll take your word on Coben. I confess I've not heard of him but next time I'm looking through the shelves of our local s/hand bookshop I shall keep an eye open.

Dee said...

Wendy, Coben will do that to you. He will be a wonderful addiction, I promise.

Bonnie, I remember you reading the Carol Burnett bio but I don't think you picked up a Coben. I'm pretty sure you'd have packed it if you'd had a chance to start it. (smile)

Dee said...

Whoops! Talk about crossing in the mail! John, you shouldn't have any problem finding Coben over there. I get the impression his overseas popularity is big. I'll cross me fangers for you.