I’m not mourning this one. I refuse. She’ll come back, I’m sure of it. Have you seen her? She’s a master of disguise, sometimes wearing a ragged old jacket, pages so worn they’re soft and fuzzy, sometimes a sharp and spiffy hardcover, crackling when she flashes that first page. She has another angle I used to know well, flowing from half a thought in the shower out through my keyboard, gaining heft in pages each day. The perfect companion, able to reflect every mood, never moaning that I don’t accept her as is, sharper and stronger when I mark her with the pencil; cutting, editing, resculpting. The best part about her is the way she can be completely, totally yours, and still shared with countless others, solidifying the feeling that you aren’t alone, and have a place in the world.
Bah. I’d say that’s enough purple prose, don’t you think? I was always one of those; loved to read more than anything else, would skip meals, sleep, outings, just about anything to stay immersed as long as possible in a good book. As a kid I loved the typical girlie classics: Black Beauty, the Little House on the Prairie Series, Little Women. The first book I remember reading is The Lonely Doll, and I read it over and over. I found it again several years ago and purchased it, intending to read it to Flower Child. Ummm, no. I’m more than a bit horrified by how much I loved that book, there’s something dark, maybe even salacious in those pages. I promptly read a biography of the author, Dare Wright. The bio did much to explain the storybook, but again, I won’t be using it as a bedtime story.
(Flower Child is sitting next to me, on seeing this ^pic, she said, “She can be my doll.” Have I mentioned no?)
I found Ordinary People in the library when I was ten or eleven, read it, loved it, wrote a book report about it, had my parents called and I was told to do a different report on a different book.
I also discovered category romance about the same time. An elderly neighbor (fabulously French, served fresh lemonade) of a relative who lived in California belonged to the Harlequin book club. After visiting, she shipped me four cartons of those books. I tore through them like a bag of chips, licking the salt off the foil at the end. Then came science fiction, fantasy, horror, and my forever love, Stephen King.
I found Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates and felt something I couldn’t define, something profound and spiritual, but at the same time they felt so real, so rooted in the collective consciousness it was my youthful vegetarian self tearing into a raw chunk of beef. Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, the list goes on. The poetry years, ee cummings, Anne Sexton, Edna St Vincent Millay….
Throughout the reading was the writing. Mostly short stories, several years of angsty poetry, and later, full length manuscripts.
Broke or flush, content or heartbroken, writing or reading, fiction has been my lifelong companion. Different genres for different phases of life, different moods. I wouldn’t say I was indiscriminate, but rather, I’ve had broad tastes; seen value, worth, and beauty in the different styles. So what the heck? My purse is lighter, no novel shoved in there. My end tables are neater, no texts I’m using for research toppling over. Flashes of scenes that need to be written rinse away with the shampoo. I’m singing a torch song, looking for my love. And let me tell you, my off key warble is nothing you want to hear for long. Think Edith Bunker.