Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Labor of Love. Part I

I want to talk about a very special friend.  A friend who has done so much for me.  A friend who knows me so well, it is scary.  A true friend who rejoices with me when I am happy, and helps me pull through when the times are rough.  We have never met.  To my deepest regret, we probably never will.  She is a great contemporary American writer.  Her name is Anne Tyler.

I am normally a very slow reader.  That is, if I am not reading Anne Tyler.  I still tend to read the same passage over and over again, go back to a particular phrase, etc., but my mind will not be at rest until I have finished Anne Tyler’s novel.  (Not that it will be at rest when the book is finished, either, for I will keep hearing the characters’ voices in my head for quite some time.)  I have not read all of her novels yet.  The ones I have read, I have gulped down:

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America.  

They are all gems.  Unique, brilliant, beautiful.  Critics may put them on their scales in an attempt to prove which one weighs more, which one is ‘more of a gem.’  They may look at them through the prism of their criticism, and point out occasional flaws.  Gems will remain gems.  I do not know if gemstones really possess healing properties, but Anne Tyler’s novels surely do.

Apart from being a terrific read, they are among the best counselors one could possibly find.  Subtle, unobtrusive, and yet profoundly convincing.  Never dogmatic, or pushy, they will only offer help if you seek it.  If you do, you will get help, but prepare yourself for a bumpy ride on an emotional roller coaster.  It is not always easy to read Anne Tyler.  Just like it is not always easy to live, or love.  It is a labor.  We have to do our part.    

Live for the Love of it,
The Happy Amateur

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