Barry Healey and Cordelia Strube don’t mince words in Exhilarating Prose.
And nor should they, as they work their way through a guide for aspiring and practising writers with advice culled from dozens of published and well-known authors.
Healey most recently published The Sex Life of the Amoeba, a satirical novel skewering the filmmaking process and his first novel. He has written for film and television extensively. Strube is the author of nine novels, some of which have been nominated for prestigious awards including the Giller and the Governor-General’s awards among others. Her books include Milosz, The Barking Dog, and Planet Reese.
Both Beach residents, they have covered a wide range of writing media between them, and are united by a passion for well-placed words, preferably the right ones.
Exhilarating Prose begins by first telling writers what not to do. “The Speaks” is the term the authors use to brand professional jargon – ad-speak, techno-speak, corporate-speak, generally any form of written communication that serves to confuse more than to make clear. Though the suggestions related to the Alberta tar sands are a bit overbearing in this section, the advice is worth heeding, and patience will bring would-be writers – also known as readers, in this case – to a series of enlightening chapters covering advice on what to do.
Chapters cover essentials such as the forms and elements of prose, what makes a successful beginning and ending, the creative process, and, of course, a set of rules for writing.
Previous rules set out by George Orwell, Elmore Leonard, and Kurt Vonnegut are covered, then Strube and Healey lay out their own rules for writing.
Finally, the importance of reading is emphasized, with a recommended reading list closing out Exhilarating Prose.
Each chapter is liberally sprinkled with examples from classic and contemporary literature, and almost every page includes at least one quote on the art of writing in the margins, making this a layered instructional book worth revisiting. Find Exhilarating Prose online.
There is Roti in my Lunchbox
By Niyati Desai-Kadakia
Illustrated by Shaunak Samvatsar
As first generation immigrants, Desai-Kadakia and her husband faced their own struggles trying to adapt to American and now Canadian life, while holding on to their cultural heritage. She realized that her children were facing their own challenges, and Where is my Grandma? and There is Roti in my Lunchbox were written in response to questions posed by her children.
Where is my Grandma? deals with a child living in one country, watching her friends visit with their grandmothers, and wondering why she can’t easily do the same with her own family, divided by distance.
The book follows five year-old Neha’s plans to bring her grandmother for a visit, including sailboats, driving, and even balloons. Neha’s parents then must explain why these ideas can’t work, though there is a happy ending for the family, as her grandmother is reunited with Neha thanks to a planned visit (by plane).
There is Roti in my Lunchbox deals with a common issue for children of immigrants – lunch food considered strange by classmates.
While many adults would love to have gone to school with roti for lunch, children often long to fit in. The story follows Neha through her journey from feeling left out to feeling special due to her school meals brought from home.
Where is my Grandma? is also available to play as a game on the free SmartyPal iPad app.
Both children of immigrants and children who have friends with parents from other countries are likely to enjoy these simple stories that deal with complex issues. Don’t be surprised if Neha continues to make appearances in future books.
Both books are available through Amazon.