Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

For this week's read, I thought I'd look at a book that's been a long time favorite of mine. It came out in 2007, so it is pretty recent. What's amazing is that it hasn't spawned it's own following of copy cats. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a novel told in part by traditional narrative, and part by pictures.

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
First Line/Page: The novel actually doesn't start with a sentence. It starts with a serious of pictures that introduces the reader to the setting and character--Hugo and a train station. Only then, when we're intrigued and pictures cannot possibly tell us any more, does the narrative begin. Some amazing first lines I share with friends to tempt them to read. With Hugo Cabret, I show them the first few pages. Sometimes I merely flip to a random illustrated page and they stare in wonder at the art of it.

Brownie Points: The plot, characters, writing, it all holds you captive. The illustrations are the cherry on top, but necessary as well. The whole book is a Brownie.

Recommendation: Everyone should read it. And what's great, is that it appeals to any age group. It's simple enough for children to understand, but complex and rich enough for adults to remain captivated.

Would I represent it? If I'd had a chance to represent this very book, I hope I would have had enough sense to latch on. However, when it comes to art, I'm pretty much lost, so more likely than not I would have passed (hard to admit that). I hope no one makes this the next "big thing," like all the literary classic spin offs of a couple years ago. I'd love to see Selznick's work stand alone forever, with no contenders/pretenders. It's unique and it should stay that way.

Also, Selznick had another book released just last month, titled Wonderstruck, that for some reason I haven't read yet, but plan to immediately. You should too.

Happy reading!


Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

The illustrations make this book what it is. My friend loaned me the book on CD, and even when accompanied by the illustrations, I didn't like it.

The story, for once, wasn't what made me love this book. It made me want to get out my drawing pencils again.

Jennifer Pickrell said...

I had to read this for a class a few years ago - gorgeous book! I'm curious to see the movie - looks like it comes out next month, but I haven't seen any hype for it.

Martha Ramirez said...

Okay, this one sounds like a really, really cool book!

What awesome illustrations. Thank you for sharing.

Kristine Asselin said...

I've picked it up several times, and it looks lovely. I need to find the time to sit and absorb!

Bill said...

When you say you would or wouldn't represent it, you rarely say why, as in this case. If you love the book and would have represented it previously, but not now, that begs the question. Why? So, why? That is how we writers learn about how agents work.

Melodie Wright said...

There's an awesome movie coming out based on this book - simply called "Hugo." It's totally steampunkish, very cool. Google the name to find the trailer for fun.