Friends! Books are totally my BFF’s.
Kate James’s novel, Can You See Anything Now?, is one of those novel BFF’s. You will not want to miss it.
For forever, I have lamented the sad state of Christian novels — or most novels that have any Christian storyline. Many don’t reckon with real feelings, real people, and real doubts.
Kate James’ book totally delivers — it’s a book that takes faith seriously with full-bodied, broken and beautiful characters. You won’t want to miss it!
Katherine James has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University where she received the Felipe P. De fellowship and taught undergraduate fiction, and while her concentration was in fiction, she enjoys writing poetry and essays just as much. Some of her poetry and narrative non-fiction is published in various anthologies and journals.
And I get to give away a copy!!!
I’m switching things up — all you need to do is COMMENT ON THIS POST TO ENTER.
Want to know more about Katherine James’s debut novel?
Did I mention it won the 2018 award at Christianity Today for fiction?!
Can You See Anything Now? follows a year in the small town of Trinity where the tragedy and humility of a few reveal the reality of people’s motivations and desires. This is a story without veneer, and for readers who prefer reality to sanitized fiction–this book is unsentimental, and yet grace-filled. The characters here are complex and intriguing — the suicidal painter, Margie, who has been teaching her evangelical neighbor, Etta, how to paint nudes; her husband, the town therapist, who suspects his work helps no one; and their college-aged daughter Noel — whose roommate, Pixie, joins them at home for a winter holiday, only to fall prey to tragedy.
My take — (I ate it up in a few days):
Dear reader, if you want a calm, cool, collected veneer of a story this is not it. There’s real stuff in her novel: cutting, attempted suicide, curse words. But you know what else there is? There is an honest look at real life as well as a hopeful, redemptive narrative of the lives of men and women (and a town). Go buy this book.
Want in on the process of writing a novel? Kate James was kind enough to answer some questions about the book.
So you wrote a novel. Why?
There were certainly moments when I asked myself this very thing—especially when I was a few chapters in and my characters were about as exciting and complicated as astro turf. However, when something I’m working on starts to gain traction and the characters, rather than standing in line waiting their turn to make it to the page, begin splitting off in their own directions to do their quirky things—for example, one guy takes a leak in the middle of a street at midnight, another can’t stop applying for a spot on The Cupcake Wars—I honestly start to have a blast. It’s fun. I like writing.
What was the inspiration for Can You See Anything Now?
It began with an image. There’s a lake in the neighborhood I live in now. It’s a small lake and I pass it every afternoon when I take a walk. I usually try to pray while I’m walking but sometimes my mind will wander because there’s so much beauty around me. About half a mile into my walk, there’s a short bridge that crests at a hill and once over it a valley suddenly appears and you see the lake, like an enormous silvery puddle, before you.
There’s also a swimming raft in the middle of it. So there it was, the beginning of Can You See Anything Now?
Good question. I’ve just completed a memoir, Notes on Orion, so as far as writing goes, I’m in a short stall at the moment. Presently, I’ve enjoyed spending more time teaching and leading writer’s workshops. As far as my next writing project, I have a manila envelope full of notes for another novel. I think a lot about what the general plot will be and what the characters will be like. The novel will take place in Trinity, the town I wrote about in Can You See Anything Now? and includes many of the same characters.
The opening scene is amazing. Haunting, enigmatic, tersely written.
Enter the giveaway by commenting on the post! Give Kate James some love on social media, too.
ENTER TO WIN: WRITE A COMMENT. EASY AS PIE.