No, I’m not thinking of the old Carly Simon song, but of the sweet pleasure of awaiting the release of a new book by a favorite author. I just finished reading The Shape Shifter, by Tony Hillerman, who is definitely a favorite author of mine. This is the 18th novel in his Navajo mystery series, to which I have been addicted for many years. I read my first Hillerman in 1984, and fell in love with his characters, with learning about the Navajo culture through his sensitively human eyes, and with the elegant precision of his language.
With the discipline of a fine journalist, and the eye of a painter, he creates wonderfully impressionistic warm washes of description using very few words. His plots and stories seem deceptively simple, but they allow the imagination to fill in all the in-betweens and things unstated. I think Mr. Hillerman has a tremendous respect for the imagination of his readers, as well as for the culture about which he writes.
His stories create a complete world that draws his readers in for a delicious read. I looked up from my book at one point in the afternoon and glanced out the window. The contrast between the color and warmth of his novel and the deep mid-day gray outside my window (that Seattle readers know so well) was startling! What a pleasure to be so completely absorbed and transported.
Even though The Shape Shifter is still a new release, and won’t even come out in paperback for months yet, I am eagerly anticipating the publication of Tony Hillerman’s NEXT book, be it fiction or non-fiction. I wish him longevity, good health, and many more years of being able to write such beautifully done novels.