Revising Leah

December 7, 2008

5087 Trivia Questions & Answers

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 2:51 pm
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A big, big book

A big, big book

I recently ordered a copy of one of the books that Leah reads in the novel. It arrived yesterday, and it is called 5087 Trivia Questions & Answers. It only cost me a dollar from Amazon, but it’s in really nice condition.

I love the book for its title alone. It begs the question, Why 5087? Why not cut 87 questions for an even 5000 or add 13 more questions for 5100? I thought the book would offer some explanation for that number, but I can’t find one. It’s just that sort of weird, random thing that attracted me to the title when I was selecting books for Leah to read.

The book plays an important role in chapter 8. It’s the book that Kyle steals from Leah and makes fun of, which in turn causes David to intervene on Leah’s behalf — thus introducing David’s character to the story. In the novel, I made up a question about Socrates that Kyle reads from the book. Now that I have the book itself in my possession, I might browse through it and see if there isn’t a better question that I might have Kyle read, but I’m satisfied with the Socrates question and might leave it in, even if it doesn’t appear in the actual book.

It’s a big, bulky book. Hardbound and over 700 pages long. Inside, the questions are listed on the right, and the answers to the questions are printed on the back of each page. The size of the book worries me. It’s not as heavy as it looks, so Leah wouldn’t have any trouble carrying it, but it would take up a lot of space in her backpack. Still, the advantages of the book outweigh the disadvantages, and I don’t plan to change the title.

Someday, I’d like to complete my own collection of the books that Leah reads in my novel. I’ll pick them up when they’re cheap, but unfortunately, not all of them are. One book, titled The Interstate Commerce Commission and the Railroad Industry costs at least $60 for a used copy. (Leah hated that book.) That’s more money than I’m willing to spend.

Inserting the titles of real books into the novel is one of the best ideas I’ve had during this revising project. It just further adds to the sense of realism, and it further breaks down the barriers between the fictional universe that I’ve created and the real world in which I live.

May 6, 2008

Reading List

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 3:10 pm
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Leah Nells spends her free time reading, but the books that she reads are unusual for a 14-year-old girl. She doesn’t read novels or poetry; she doesn’t read books related to her studies; she doesn’t even read books that particularly interest her. Instead, she chooses to read nonfiction books that bear no relation to her life at all. Her books are an escape from the seemingly empty and monotonous life that she leads.

In the 1996 draft, I referred to many of these books. The titles that I used were all made up, but as I’ve been revising, I thought it might be interesting — and it might add an extra dimension of realism — to have Leah read books that actually exist. I’ve started browsing Amazon.com for some potential titles. Since Leah gets most of her books from garage sales and used book stores, I’m trying to find titles that are several years old — the older, the better, I suppose. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

The Interstate Commerce Commission and the Railroad Industry

The Biomechanics of Insect Flight

The Social Construction of the Ocean

The Little Book of Volcanoes and Earthquakes

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