IWSG Day, Writer's Block, and La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert


Waving from our new village -- we've moved house! I hope to have a post up soon showing some local sites. We're a nine-minute train ride from the city but it feels much further. It's oh so quiet (remember that Björk song?).

Here are a couple of teaser photos, though our village is above this one, and not directly on the lakeshore:

The move and all that entails didn't leave much time for writing, but that's not really an excuse, because I found time enough to finish reading an engrossing story:

La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert by Swiss author Joel Dicker.

August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country's most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer's block as his publisher's deadline looms. But Marcus's plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan -- whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor's books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset's citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone's life?

That last question hints at the real nature of this book -- it's a gripping page-turner, certainly, with many leads and red herrings, but it is also a contemplative essay on what makes a person's life worthwhile, on the nature of ambition, on the power of love, and on what it takes to write, to write well, and to reach the hearts of readers.

If I was going to make any excuse at all, then, for not finishing my short story this past weekend, I would call reading La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert research!

I read it in the original French (where the town is named Aurora. I wonder why they changed it to Somerset in the translation?), but it's also available in English, and might be made into a movie by Ron Howard in a couple of years. Read it before that happens! Read it if you're a writer! Read it if you're looking for a book that's going to keep you in suspense, and have you up all night!

That's my suggestion for Insecure Writer's Support Group day. I'm thinking of rereading it, maybe in English, to see how the translator handled certain key phrases and scenes.

And I'm thinking now of other books like Tolkien's Leaf by Niggle and Smith of Wootton Major -- tales that are stories, but also reflections on creativity.

Which fiction would you recommend, instead of non-fiction guides, for writers?

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