Thursday, May 20, 2010

Awesome Moments

Listened, for about five seconds, to a cheesy bit on the CBS morning show about a new book called something like AWESOME MOMENTS. I'm sure I have the name wrong, but you get the idea. It's all about those little things that make you realize how much you have to appreciate in your life. One person on the couch said how much she loved a certain song and the memories it brought back, and I knew exactly what she meant.

Anything by Petula Clark, and I'm twelve years old again, wishing I could go "downtown." "Cherish" by the Righteous Brothers, and I'm in love for the first time and feelin' it like it's today. (That means you, sweetie pie.) Hit me with The Doors, and it's rock and roll and revolution, and I can smell the late sixties, early seventies, sense the change in light through the trees, feel the leather of a chair seat under my bare thighs.

Flowers in full and glorious bloom. A transplanted bush that survives the heat and drought. The smell of horses. A cat's purr. Bright green new grass the color we see only once a year. Thunder shaking the bleacher seats as 43 hot cars take the track. You get the idea - I could go on and on about the 'small' things that could fill a book of awesome moments I'll never grow tired of experiencing. And if I never do get to see/smell/taste/touch/hear any of them ever again, the memories are vividly ingrained in my DNA.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Magical Realism

I've been fascinated by the phrase ever since I heard Rodrigo Garcia use it on NPR this week. Think THE GREEN MILE. Magic happens in the midst of a realistic story. I've never been lured by that sort of book, probably because I find enough magic in everyday life. However, adding magic supplies an intriguing list of ways to write yourself out of and into some interesting plots. Maybe what some define as magic, others see as everyday life? A baby's smile is pure magic. Love is as well. Moral courage. Absolute honesty. I could go on and on. I don't need "magic" to push a story from the ordinary to the extraordinary world, but I venture that an element of spirituality is more common than most authors would admit. Whether that belief is in the essential goodness of man or a higher power to control the destinies of the characters, really good books (in my limited view) are driven by characters with such a core. Jean Valjean. Atticus Finch. Dave Robicheaux. Any Dick Francis hero.

Existential heroes leave me cold. Went through that phase when I was a kid (high school) and thankfully, outgrew it. The real magic comes from finding a book with characters who inhabit their worlds with honesty, morality, and a deeply abiding faith that whatever is wrong will be righted, in the end. They waver and fumble along the path to the knowledge they require to reach the end of their stories, but they get there in the end. Yeah!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SCOTUS: Nominees and Snakes

Okay, so one of the arguments against Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supremes is that she didn't get her driver's license until she was in her 20's, ergo, she's totally out of touch with 'real people.' Pllleeeaassee. Give me a huge break. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 20, and I'm real people. Some of us didn't need to drive until later in life - my trusty red Schwin got me where I needed to go in college. I know a woman who is my age, who still doesn't have a license, and she raised seven children in the 'burbs without a license or car. Hmm, I think she's well aware of 'real life.' If you're going to attack a nominee, do it based on her legal publications, her public comments, not something as specious as when she procured a license to drive a car.

Attacking her because she's fifty and unmarried is beyond reprehensible. No one threw mud at David Souter, who was also unmarried when nominated. Calling Ms. Kagan a lesbian because of her lack of male spouse is nothing more than blatant sexism. Shame, shame, shame on those who are using this argument to oppose her nomination.

Why anyone would put themselves through the public wringer to accept a nomination to a public office is beyond my comprehension. What have we become? A nation of amoral, self-aggrandizing, mean people? Sometimes it seems so. Has the great experiment, democracy, become another Garden of Eden to be invaded by the snake? That talking serpent who set about to destroy a good gig? The pundits and poobahs who scream that we're a nation of nitwits and idiots, using blogs and political posts, TV and radio, are nothing more than loquacious serpents with vocabulary programed to incite and inflame and drive us to eat the apple that'll doom our country. Okay, that may be a rash generalization, but come on people, can't we be civil and respectful as we disagree? Me, I'm not listening to any snakes. The voices in my own head are enough, thank you very much.

Speaking of voice: how do you get into a young adult voice? It's more than slang, patois, whatever you call it. That's easily dated. Been mulling the issue.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bad Race, Green Trees, and Summer

Sigh. I've been putting off posting about the Cup race last Saturday night, hoping I could find some nice words to describe what was, ultimately, a boring race. Yawn-inspiring. Go-home-early. Wish we had.

What was wrong, I don't know. Single-file parades around a 3/4 mile track don't happen often, but they did on Saturday. I can't remember a single Richmond race with less drama or excitement. The last fifteen laps put on a show, but until then, I couldn't have cared less. Okay, enough negativity. I'm not going to think about it again.

Working on SIGNS. After 160 pages, I've decided the 'voice' is all wrong, so it's back to square one. Some of us take longer to figure out a book's issues than others. I count myself among those who hang onto the original vision after it's clear it's not working much, much too tenaciously. The good news is, the rewrites are feeling 'right,' so I'm a happy camper. Well, getting to the 'happy' part.

Summer is here with all its humidity and glorious greenery. I realized yesterday how much I missed the green trees during the past long, cold, and dreary winter. Trees in full glory make me happy, and remind me that all is right with the world. And on that simple truth, it's time I got back to work. . . .