Anyone familiar with the meteoric rise of Benjamin Percy's career will surely have noticed a certain shift: After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many readers fall in love with fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy's own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is "literary" and what is "genre." Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue. An urgent and entertaining missive on craft, Thrill Me brims with Percy's distinctive blend of anecdotes, advice, and close reading, all in the service of one dictum: Thrill the reader.
“[Benjamin Percy] peppers his observations of today's literary scene with homey, witty anecdotes, and he couches his analysis in no-nonsense wisdom . . . Not only does he frame the ins and outs of the writing process with warm, wry reminiscences drawn from his own life, he refuses to lapse into stereotypical preciousness or pretentiousness. He talks bluntly and amiably about how stories work and why they matter, an approach that doesn't take a fellow writer to appreciate.”—NPR.org
“[Benjamin Percy] demonstrates he’s one of contemporary fiction’s sharper critical minds, an author with a rare talent for explaining his craft . . . Thrill Me is packed with concise, practicable counsel.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“Percy dives in head first, and his enthusiasm, in conjunction with his eye for substance and style and his skillful explication, prove a heady mix . . . Thrill Me is comprehensive in its scope, touching on most of the important pieces of storycraft from stylistic choices to character development . . . with character and vigor, and with a joyful populist tone.”—Electric Literature
“Thrill Me turns the interior, plodding process of writing into a heart-pounding read, and imparts some excellent lessons along the way.”—Washington Independent Review of Books