I grew up here, on this river, in this house. Which isn’t there any longer.
Grist.org video: “In the good old days, a single roach in the kitchen was enough to shut down a restaurant; now, it seems just as likely to open one … ”
In the previous post I wrote about my daughter asking to read a proof of my book. So here’s what happened: she finished it over a few days and on the last day, she fell asleep with it, woke up in the morning and continued reading until she was done. I was away at the time and we talked briefly about it over Skype (partial conversation in image above).
A kid who falls asleep with a book and goes back to it the very next morning is a good, good thing. She had three great suggestions, none of which I would have thought of by myself, and she gave me a grade of 9.
It’s been a harrowing couple of days.
I have a bound proof of my new book which my daughter asked to read. That was amazing thing number one: she asked to read it. Amazing thing number two? She actually is. Reading it I mean, and she even took it to school.
My friend Laura Miller seems to think that kids of a certain age are reluctant to read books written by their parents. Hannah ducked out of finishing my first book and I was pretty sure that happened because I’d given it to her far too early, when it was still crammed with unedited slush. Effectively killing the chance that she’d read anything else of mine. This time I didn’t do that. In fact it’s taken me almost a year of editing, and I’m still not done. For me, the process of shaping a second book has been a lot more relaxed, and while I haven’t been talking about it much, it’s in every corner of my head, keeping me up, pulling me out of bed, making me so stupidly happy. Maybe she picked up on that and became intrigued.
Not only is she reading it, she’s talking to me about it. And she’s talking to her friends about it. She’s only a third of the way through, but I just may have written a book for kids that my own kid likes.
It doesn’t get any cooler than that, right?
Now I just have to grit my teeth, not ask where she is in the book, and wait. Feels like a good time to start that cover illustration.
(I love the simplicity and rhythm of Tove Jansson’s sentences, the drawings she did of her characters, the names she gave them.)
Tales from Moominvalley
by Tove Jansson
An excerpt from “The Spring Tune”
“It’s the right evening for a tune,” Snufkin thought. A new tune, one part expectation, two parts spring sadness, and for the rest just the great delight of walking alone and liking it.
He had kept this tune under his hat for several days, but hadn’t dared to take it out yet. It had to grow into a kind of happy conviction. Then he would simply have to put his lips to the mouthorgan, and all the notes would jump instantly into their places.
If he released them too soon, they might get stuck crossways and make only a good half-tune, or he might lose them altogether and never be in the right mood to get hold of them again. Tunes are serious things, especially if they have to be jolly and sad at the same time.
But this evening Snufkin felt rather sure of his tune. It was there, waiting, nearly full-grown—and it was going to be the best he ever made.
Colson Whitehead is seriously funny.
Excerpted from the New York Times Book Review’s By the Book:
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Flannery O’Connor, because I don’t think she knew a lot of black people, or got out of the house that much. Just imagine her OkCupid profile.
What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?
The book I’m working on now. Be a real time saver, and I could concentrate on my general brooding and sifting-through of my regrets.
And also from the New York Times, How to Write:
Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. … Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion. Shadowing you, peeping in your windows, calling you at all hours to leave messages like, “Only you understand me.”
Rule No. 8: Is secret.
Rule No. 11: There are no rules.
Amen to the last. There really aren’t. I would pay attention to two other things he said: “Never use three words when one will do” and “Write what you know.”
(I can’t end this post without saying how much I love Jillian Tamaki’s portraits for this page of the Book Review)
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I saw my good friend, Leili! I took these pictures of some of her pre-fired work at MIT’s pottery studio. And afterwards we wandered around Boston. I wish she lived closer.
Another elementary school essay. I dug my typewriter out of the garage and Hannah and her friends spent an afternoon taking turns typing out stories. My favorite parts in this one above are the lines, “The townspeople were filled with weary” and “The beast looked like a big humungus tan colored teddy bear.”
Too bad that someone borrowed the typewriter and hasn’t returned it.
Really like this cover designed by my friend Tracy Cox for Doug Cruickshank’s book. A couple of nice touches with that torched doily and the muffin crumbs.
So glad I found this recipe Hannah did, when she was about 8 I think.