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Reading 3 – JJ Zerr

Reading 3


Books that aggravated me, etc.



One of my daughters recommended Louise Penny to me. I bought her first book. A murder mystery. I started reading and became aggravated pretty quickly. The number of characters introduced in the first pages was a bit much. Some where I read that you should not introduce more than five characters in the first chapter. But, I got a pad of note paper and started listing the characters and their characteristics. But then after getting a vic murdered pretty quickly, the book turned into more of character description than solving the mystery. It moved aggravatingly slow, I thought, and quit reading it. Some time later, I went back to it, and started over, and got farther into it, but again quit, aggravated with the pace. But, yet again, I went back driven by a niggling interest in finding out what happened to the characters.


I have now read 12 of her 15 books. And I’ve bought the others. I find her books to move at a pace that I still find slow, but every once in a while, I think such a pace is a good thing. And I’ve found her books tap emotional levels in me that are, well, deep. And deep emotional involvement, for me doesn’t happen when I’m ripping along at zorch speed.


I’ve read a number of good books in the past few years, but I was never inspired to read everything the writer had written. Ms Penny, besides the emotional depth, in her writing she reverences art. Music, painting, writing, poetry, architecture, nature. I admire that in her stories.


So once again, I’ve found literary treasure because I was willing to work for it, and I trusted my daughter’s judgement.


There is another thought here for me as a writer. Writers ask themselves questions like for whom are you writing? A companion question is how hard do you expect your reader to work to find value in your story?


For me, I’m very happy I have not let a little aggravation deter me from mining for literary treasure. Now when I get aggravated, I talk my Eyore doll and read away.

J. J. Zerr writes stories in the historical fiction genre. Mostly. His novels are set in the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War eras. He also published a collection of short stories, some of which are set in the current timeframe.

Writing is his third—not career—passion. He is a US Navy and Vietnam veteran. Serving aboard ships and as navy carrier pilot for thirty-six years, he logged over one thousand carrier landings and more than three hundred combat missions during the Vietnam War. He retired from the US Navy in 1995. He then worked in the aerospace industry for eleven years. On January 2, 2008, he sat down in front of his computer and began working on his first novel and launched his third passion.

Writing, he says, is harder than work. Rewriting is harder than writing, and book promotion is harder than rewriting. “But I can’t not write.”

Zerr resides in the St. Louis area with his wife, Saint Karen.

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