What is it that makes a reader love the writing of a particular author? I've never given it much thought. Obviously there's something about the story or the characters that simply entertains the reader. Upon reading Hannah Pittard's newest novel, I can't help but wonder if it's sometimes more than that. Is there something in a novel akin to melody that attracts the reader the same way music attracts the listener? Sure there are those authors whose stories I enjoy because of their clever plots or well-developed characters, but there are also authors whose words envelop me in this sense of calm and wonder. Bernard Malamud is one such author. Hannah Pittard is another.
Pittard's debut, The Fates Will Find Their Way was beautiful. I loved being wrapped up in that book. Yet, the story wasn't there. To this day I can tell you some of the scenes and lines that captured me, but I can't really tell you what happened in the story. Feeling unsatisfied, I ached to read more of her work.
Reunion sacrifices some of the beauty in exchange for more plot. It's a good trade. The wonderfully drawn images are still sprinkled throughout, but this time there's a memorable story serving as the backbone of the novel. Kate Pulaski* is a 30-something-year-old woman who, in the three days this novel takes place, discovers herself. It's your basic coming-of-age story except it's so much more real and the cast of characters are so quirky and wonderful. Maybe it's only more real to me because I'm more of a Pulaski; maybe one day soon, I'll realize who I am and who I want to be. Maybe that explains why I was so emotionally wrapped up in the story. Or perhaps that should be chalked up to the author's talents at weaving a wonderful tale.
I don't know how else to say it but that I hang on the words of Hannah Pittard. I'm not sure how others read her work, if they get the same feeling or not. Maybe if they hear the same beat and melody that I do, they'll understand what it is I love about the writing. It's all aesthetics, I guess. I eagerly await to hear more. Play on, Hannah.
*The name was a hang up at first. Kate Pulaski? As in Dr. Katherine Pulaski of the starship Enterprise-D who heinously took our beloved Dr. Crusher away for one season? In the whole of the Trek universe, she was a relatively minor character, but she was significant enough that her face comes immediately to mind upon hearing her name. I'm not sure it was the best choice for a name; fortunately, Pittard's Pulaski bore so little similarity to Picard's Pilaski that I was largely able to disassociate the two. And I certainly liked this Kate Pulaski much better.