Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The older brother remembered a large barrel of snakes on display.
The younger one remembered the bathroom doors labled "inboard" and "outboard," and the shop-keeper's crass suggestion that he look in his pants to determine which to take.
Two vivid, but different memories, and my friend didn't remember the park at all.
Your mother, your teacher, and Dr. Seuss all told the truth: "There is no one alive who is Youer than You." You have spent your life seeing places no one else saw, and reading books no one else read.
I recently read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It was a heart-rendingly beautiful story about a broken man in a broken marriage who walked his way back to his past, to himself, and to the woman he loved. The novel got high ratings from most readers - but not from all. One wrote that the story was "tedious," and the word, "insipid" came up in another review. How could a story I found so riveting, be tedious to anyone?
Some of the complaints centered on the subject matter of crushing family loss, and I understood that. A dear friend once told me she could not and would never finish reading my book because the subject matter hit too raw a nerve. Books will do that, and I am inclined to protect some readers even from my own stories.
But where the detractors found The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry "too sad," I found it reassuring and uplifting, because I am interested in what comes after the sadness.
The words on the page form half a conversation, but we each provide the other half, and a different half each time.
What conversations have you had with books you have loved - or hated? And how have they differed from those of other readers?