Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction

Graywolf. Oct. 2016. 160p. ISBN 9781555977597. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781555979546. LIT
OrangeReviewStarPercy (Red Moon; The Dead Lands) has collected 15 useful and entertaining essays on the craft (and art) of fiction writing. What sets it apart from other similar books on the subject is Percy's generosity and ego-free frankness in exploring practical aspects of writing frequently glossed over or—worse—ignored. Instead of waxing negative on the seemingly eternal literary vs. genre argument, Percy advises that we focus on what actually works: "Toss out the worst elements of genre and literary fiction—and merge the best." The resultant narrative fusion combines art, philosophy, and adventure; supplies nuanced prose; and drives readers' page-flipping tension. Percy asks what makes the works we love so potent and enduring. His instructive answers cite titles as disparate as Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Stephen King's Carrie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby—noting how these authors create iconic scenes enveloped in emotional, psychological, and physical realism. Above all, Percy's compulsively readable essays compel writers to enter unknown spaces and with authentic treasure retrieve readers' sense of wonder.
VERDICT This will appeal not only to writers and readers of contemporary suspense and horror but anyone interested in learning more about the inherent demands, excursions, and rewards of the creative process. [See Prepub Alert, 4/18/16.]
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