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On Writing

Learning from others

“To become a writer, you must first read.” That adage describes how writers learn from each other, studying themes, plots, characterizations, scenes, beats, and all the other tools that go into a story.

One of my favorite writers is Sicily’s Andrea Camilleri. He writes with vivid descriptions, outrageous characters, and great humor. But nothing sets him apart more than his “hooks,” the incidents that engage the reader, intrigue her, make her want to keep going.

In Camilleri’s latest to be translated into English, The Safety Net, a citizen of Vigàta presents Inspector Montalbano with 8mm film taken on the same day at the same hour over a six-year period. Each scene is the same, an unmoving image of a wall, framed so that neither the top nor the bottom are visible.

Who could resist reading on?

Camilleri is a master of this sort of send-off, and if you enjoy this sort of tale, I recommend the entire series, starting with the three-book series, Death in Sicily, which includes his first three novels, The Shape of Water, The Terra-Cotta Dog, and The Snack Thief. All are superbly translated by Stephen Sartarelli.

If you’re a food lover, the descriptions of the Sicilian delicacies that feed Montalbano’s insatiable maw are worth the price of admission. Enjoy!

By James H Lewis

Pittsburgh, PA author, writer, and nonprofit consultant

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