Yannick Murphy’s latest novel is Signed, Mata Hari, published this November by Little, Brown & Co. She is also the author of Here They Come, The Sea of Trees, Stories in Another Language, the forthcoming In a Bear’s Eye, and Ahwoooooooo! a children’s book. More information about Yannick Murphy’s writing can be found at www.yannickmurphy.com
My mind isn’t screaming after the first sentence, that’s when I know a book is going to be a good one. If the first sentence isn’t predictable and I wish I had written it myself, that’s also how I know. Then, if I feel scared, it’s a sure sign the book is a good one. I’m scared to keep reading because all of the sentences are good and I know I’m going to have to start writing better if I even want to come close to being as great as that writer is. And, really, I’m always in a fight against laziness and I don’t want to have to work so hard at being a great writer and so then I become mad at the writer because they’ve ruined the perfectly comfortable zombie state I was in, and now this, now beautiful sentences that engage me and overwhelm me and challenge me. Finally, if I’m reading and I can’t help but keep reading because the sentences keep pushing me headlong into their rhythms and glottal stops and playfulness so that I’m so far into the book that I then say, “Oh, my god, what’s going to happen next?” then I also know it’s a good book. After that I forget all about the mechanics of individual sentences because they become part of the entire deep and complicated event of the story. That is what happened when I read the novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I stopped analyzing and criticizing and I gave in and it was delicious and I became wholly entertained. It’s what always happens when I read his work.