So there is a conversation, and it is between two voices inside my head (don't worry, they're not audible exactly, just…oh, whatever). They're discussing an idea another part of my head came up with about writing a post about the amazing—adult—book I just finished. These two voices? They're not in agreement.
Voice 1: Sure, do it, why not? It's not like anyone's paying you anything to write this stuff anyway.
Voice 2: But your blog is about children's literature. That's the whole point. And you've suckered all these people into coming to visit so they can hear about…children's literature.
Voice 1: But that sounds suspiciously like branding, and who gives a crap about that? Also, isn't it your blog? Don't you get to write whatever the heck you want?
Voice 2: Yeah sure, but if I start with this, where will it end? I'll end up writing about toenail fungus and recipes and anything in the world. I'll have lost my focus. I'll be asea in a swirl of chaos. I won't have any idea what I'm writing about or why and then where will it end? WHERE WILL IT END?
Voice 1: Calm down.
So of course I'm going to go ahead and post it, because I want to, and I am unable to squelch my impulses forever (it's been two weeks). But I will try to be brief. To the point. Cogent. Though in getting this far I've failed to do ALL THREE.
I just read this amazing book.
It's a collection of short stories, and it was incredibly pleasurable to read in this slow, stupefied, moved sort of way. I kept putting it down and spacing out because it was so rich, so rife with, I don't know, everything. Like how you love egg nog but you can't exactly swallow it down in one fell swoop.
All the stories touch, in some way, on memory, but the real joy of them is how human they are, in the best possible sense. How wide-ranging and thoughtful and almost painful in the waves of emotion they produce. The whole time I was reading this I was walking around, dreamy and tearful at once.
I know a lot of people, especially parents, don't find the time to read adult books what with all the crap and emotional and time drain in their lives. But they feed you, they really do, just the way they feed your children. It's such a blessed relief to engage in the conversation of adults sometimes, and to participate in the culture of adults, in the complicated gray areas, the reality of age, the complexity of thorny moral questions. It matters, somehow, to see all the crap that comes with being an adult illumined by a really good writer's consideration. It feels like coming out of your office cubicle and finding that people outside are engaged in a spirited and thoughtful discussion about something that is a million miles away from work—it is amazing. It is as thougb the world is saying to you: "Look. There is a larger world. It is full of beauty and pain and wisdom. Go explore it."
7 thoughts on “In Which We Digress”
I’m so glad you listened to Voice 1, and posted this. I can certainly use any recommendation for a good book, whether it’s for adults or children. And like you say, I can especially use a recommendation for an adult book, as I’m living with two small children and seems to be reading mainly the Very Hungry Caterpillar… I say keep on digressing!
I’m glad you shared this. I’ve been lurking and loving your blog, occasionally considering commenting, and a post about Anthony Doerr was just thing to bring me out of the wood work. Anthony Doerr is one of my favorite authors of all time. I can re-read his short stories over and over again. I have Memory Wall sitting on my shelf waiting for just the right time to be read, and I have strong feeling it won’t be waiting much longer.
I don’t believe in “no time to read.” If you don’t have any time, then you should stop cleaning your house and make some.
Digress any, ANY time! I love hearing about good books. And I LOVE what Marya said about stopping the cleaning to do the reading. A page out of my play book for sure! I am adding the book to my (already long) list!
Thanks for the suggestion! I want to read it and I’ll order it for the bookstore. I love book recommendations.
I’m going to add the book to my “page o’ books to get when I’m in a bookstore and need a fix”. (Digression: this is the only useful note page on my iphone, that and the list of state license plates my daughter has spotted.) Loved the dueling voices. Must remember to channel Voice 1 and her very cogent “calm down.” Because the voices in my head are all rather frenzied. Also, many many thanks for gifting me with the lovely
“asea”; it’s like a little boat trip in a word…
Agreed. Every time I spot an adult-ish recommendation from you I add it to the library queue and am never disappointed!