June 24, 2008
The scent of a new book with an uncracked spine on the first day of school. The worn yellow pages of a paperback lit by a flashlight under the covers . A big, juicy novel splayed out on a beach towel next to the sea.
What can replace the joy of reading real, heft-in-your-hand, load ‘em up in your arms, pass them around to your friends…books? Real books, the kind that you can write a loving message inside the cover of, balance on the edge of the tub, hide under the mattress, slip into your purse, pile up on your night table, and fall asleep with on your lap. What is better?
What can we do to ensure their continued existence? Plenty!
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nannies: pass on your love of books, with all their unique qualities, to the children in your lives. They are the future book readers and buyers. They already have enough electronic pursuits; they do not need to lose books, real paper-and-ink books, to technology.
Read to a child. Read with a child. Let a child read to you. Take them to the library. Take them to a bookstore. Give them a book. Talk with them about passing books on to their friends. Encourage them to write; for they will write the books of the future.
Real books, as we know them, will die only if we fail to share our love of them with the next generation. Don’t delay–the next generation is here, now.
June 12, 2008
*Concept loosely borrowed from my all-time favorite author, John Cheever, short story, 1961
1. Riding with Ted Bundy in his VW beetle
2. Hiring a Nazi piano teacher
3. Knowing one person who killed their mother, and suspecting another
I’m stopping here. Life, no doubt, is stranger than fiction. If I continued, I would be perceived to be too crazy to ever take seriously. (I hope I’ve stopped in time…!)
May 2, 2008
All hail the right-brain!
After too many years of writing what I thought I needed to/should write, a little girl named Sylvie showed up one morning and yanked on my sleeve, insisting that I sit up, shut up, pay attention, and write down her story.
And what a story it is: Mom’s a drug addict/prostitute, Sylvie and her grandparents are raising this never-seen-by-Sylvie mom’s kids of varying ethnicities, and the one place where Sylvie thinks she’s found serenity–a secret hideout behind the garage–is where a ‘bad man’ attacks her.
And yet, somehow, in the midst of conflict and loss, there are laughs; and there is hope.
And as I plunge ahead, listening to Sylvie’s voice and transcribing it to the best of my ability, her younger sister “Peanut” steps out of the shadows of the story and takes over, imparting to me, the astonished penman, Part Two.
Sylvie, of course, reasserts herself as the central figure and narrator by wrapping things up in Part Three; while I, mad about these characters and entranced by their story, and who have always been amazed at the intricacies of the human mind, give an extra prayer of thanks for the inexplicable capacities of the RIGHT BRAIN.
April 12, 2008
All my life I’ve devoured books insatiably. I wish I had kept a log; the titles number, undoubtedly, in the many thousands. Author names and titles become a blur when one is a true book-hog.
But two names invariably put a shiver over me that ends in goosebumps, even years after first discovering them: John Cheever and Jessica Mitford. Specifically, Cheever’s THE HOUSEBREAKER OF SHADY HILL and THE COUNTRY HUSBAND, and Mitford’s DAUGHTERS AND REBELS.
After reading (‘rolling around in’ might be more accurate) works by both of these authors, my belief in myself as a writer was reinforced for, so far, a lifetime. Cheever and Mitford, for me, embodied inspiration.
An excellent Cheever commentary by Jan Harayda:
“http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/ the-stories-of-john-cheever-a-titan-among-past-winners- of-the-pulitzer-prize-for-fiction/“