Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trying out a book by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is a best selling author and storyteller who lives in New Bern, North Carolina and notably built a world class track and field there for the local high school.  Having wondered what was driving his success, over the last three days "The Longest Ride", his most recent book, was read here.  If this book is any indication, it seems that Sparks is the John Grisham of convoluted but idyllic romance stories with preposterously happy endings.

Here part of the attraction was the various North Carolina settings, all familiar.  Wake Forest University, the Outer Banks, Asheville, Greensboro, Black Mountain, and the area near Charlotte all play a role.  It's always interesting here to read about or see in film familiar places.  I don't exactly know why, but one could guess because it's both validating and comfortable.  Reading this book, I certainly am glad that my younger daughter did not choose to go to Wake Forest, which we visited some years ago and seemed attractive to me.  If the description of the fraternity/sorority culture there is accurate, which has the feel of being true, my daughter was absolutely right in her decision.  For her, it would not have been a fit.

Descriptions of the Outer Banks cause some nostalgia as we have not been there in almost 20 years, but had some great times there with family and before family.  The Asheville area was near my summer tennis teaching camp during college and Greensboro was forty miles from our Virginia home and where my mother spent her one year of college, unfortunately only one year could be provided for.  There was a younger brother whose college she needed to support.

As to Spark's writing, it is fluid and almost conversational.  There are cliched lines and the book is certainly not what one could call literature.  It is a not an especially demanding form of entertainment.  From time to time there are passages that one can relate to personally and identify with, at least here, and I have to admit that those "passages", when infrequently happened upon, caught my attention as something close to special.  Each to his own, and those brief sequences of literate relief were not common in this novel.

Interestingly, ten of Sparks novels have been made into films, and in all cases their worldwide gross proceeds easily exceeds their budgets, usually by multiples.  I have never heard of any of them.

The book was interesting and the understanding of what drives Spark's success was as well.  That said, I have no interest reading another one of his numerous books.  It's not impossible that sometime in the future one of his books could become a fallback, definitely not anywhere near term.

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