A Person of Interest, the 2008 novel by Susan Choi (not the popular TV series) burst onto my reading list for 2014 as the latest selection of the Newcomb College Book Club. Newcomb, my alma mater, established the club a few years ago to bring together alums across the country via book club discussion groups and to establish a common ground for discussion among graduates and students. Membership in the club promised to be interesting–the first selection: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and a more recent choice: The Incredible Sadness of Lemon Cake.
Susan Choi’s work is another fine choice and introduced me to a very talented contemporary author. The story has enough suspense to entertain a fan of thrillers and mysteries (which I am not), but it is at the same time a thoughtful work that explores the power of suspicion on a community and an individual’s life.
What I particularly enjoyed was Ms. Choi’s splendid vocabulary. She never shies from using an obscure word if it is the right word and makes no apologies for sending the reader to the dictionary now and then.
From just a three or four random pages of text, I jotted the following: misprision, leonine, proximate, sluiceway, declivity, lacunae, abraded, palimpsest, petrifaction, badinage, depilated, charnel, epistolary, and garrulity. There are many, many more examples of the rich language Ms. Choi employs and her dense, but very readable prose.
I came away challenged to add spice and variety and complexity to my own writing.