Anxious People and Bird by Bird

 Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The first few chapters seemed so silly I almost gave it up. I tried a few more (the chapters are very short, 74 in all) until one of the characters said something that finally made sense to me and convinced me to keep going. 

A group of people at an apartment viewing are surprised to find themselves being held hostage by a bank robber who never did manage to rob a bank. The hostages are a quirky group, competitive at first and determined to nab this great apartment by any means, fair or not, but then gradually, cautiously, they lower their defenses and get to know each other and their captor. 

The police officers on the case are a father and son who have different ways of doing things. One is by-the-book and easily frustrated, the other, with more experience, has learned that compassion offers a better solution in some cases than strict adherence to the rules. 

I liked the book once I had some understanding of what was happening. The early part was like putting together a puzzle without the picture, but in the end I enjoyed the story and found characters I liked and even wished I could spend more time with. 

The wrap-up reminded me of the last Backman book I read, Beartown. In both he shows us in little vignettes how life turns out for each of the characters, wrapping each short account up with a meaningful/dramatic sentence or two. I appreciated being told what happened in each character's life - I wanted to know that - but the repetitious structure became tiresome in both books.

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott shares her writing process in hopes of helping others get started, or get back to it, or get unstuck from whatever point you're at. She shares some of what she teaches in her writing workshops, lessons she's learned in her own years of experience trying to get words on paper. There are chapters on plot, dialogue, characters, writer's block, finding your voice, and broccoli.....hmm. It's full of helpful information and encouragement, real stuff that has pushed me to finish some things abandoned long ago. She has a sense of humour and the confidence to use it well, making this a lot of fun to read. A good book to keep nearby for the writing help and for a laugh when I need one. 


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