owl in winter

owl in winter

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Russo Factor

First of all, do I like this photo? No. But, it's all I could find that wasn't a generation old. So, sorry universe, and sorry Richard, you're just such a recluse, and I wish you'd get another picture taken.
I love Richard Russo. Been a fan for years now. I have friends who claim they'd rather walk through their skin backward than read anything he writes but I have to differ. I just simply have to stand up for this guy. Besides that, the man won a Pulitzer Prize for crying out loud. He can't really stink, can he? I don't see how.
The thing I like about Russo is how he sees the underbelly; how he shows you, the reader, what's so freaking awful about the situation without actually SAYING it. He sees what the character doesn't want to see, what the character doesn't want to admit to himself or anybody else, he sees what the character sees without seeing it.
Does he cook? No. And you know me well enough by now to know that I do appreciate a good recipe snuck into a good read. But, Richard doesn't cook, so none of that.
So, I'm going to share the Richard Russo books I've read and maybe you will read them too. "Empire Falls" - loved it. "Nobody's Fool" - this may be my favorite. "Straight Man?" I may have read this ten times. And then, there was "Bridge of Sighs."
Quite honestly, there were passages in "Bridge of Sighs" that I had to just turn the pages until certain things came to a close. "Bridge of Sighs" is a great read but, if you love animals, if you love dogs in particular, you aren't going to be able to stand some of the text in that book. Aside from the purposeful cruelty to animals, I loved the book and, I do understand that a writer writes and writes what is given to him to write. I'm not at all condemning Richard for certain passages in that book, just saying I could not read those particular passages in that book. Now, having said that, I also understand that humanity as a whole is so flawed that, if you're going to write and going to be an honest writer, you have to be able to write it all, whatever that may be, and I give Richard credit for doing that and doing it very well. That's really what it's all about for you, for me, for any writer. Tell the truth. It's going to make you throw up sometimes but, if it's truth, tell it. Don't be nambsy-pamsby about it. Tell the truth.
So, on to the latest book from him, "That Old Cape Magic."
I loved this book. I see somewhat a departure here from the older Russo works. "Cape" seems more introspective, particularly into the world of married people, sadder, more honest maybe; it seems to grasp how frail we all are and how fragile relationships really are whether we want to think so or not. Again, Russo grasps our humaness and runs with it and makes a really good showing.
The thing about Russo is that he tells the truth. If you are a fiction writer, you must tell the truth. You absolutely must, whatever that truth is. If you don't tell the truth, don't expect to be found credible. So, write what is yours to write today and tell the truth. Always.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oi. And Vey.

I'm not Jewish. Sorry about that.

Also, I meant to publish something about food, but, well, that didn't happen, quite. It may yet but, not quite right now.

I am not sure where to put this post on my blog. While I'd like to say, and started out to say, it's all about the food, really, it's not so much that, it's really all about me. It's all about me on a personal level. I've become retrospective now. I'd like to combine food with this post but, really, in all actuality, not sure I'm going to be able to do that. Not that I've stopped cooking, oh no, I think it's just that this year, I'm really, REALLY seeing my life in compartments and trying to be honest about this phase or that one, and where I am now and where I'd like to be.

Very strange thing for me this year, not to mention, uncomfortable.

Okay, let's bring in the proverbial cat ( a big fat orange one because I like those) and let's let it out of the bag, as it were.
Drum roll, please, if I can get one...I may really prefer trumpets if there are any out there.

In just a few weeks, I am going to reach the half-century mark in my life.

Fifty years on this earth. Fifty. Does that sound old to you because it sure does to me. And I hate to say it but, I'm scared. I'm scared because it sounds like I have not accomplished the things I wanted to do in my life and now, here I am, fifty years old, and still haven't moved heaven and earth like I envisioned I would at some point, and well, what then??

Seriously, what then?
Well, there's this.

I hope I've been good to people. I hope I've helped someone in need. I hope I can leave this earth one day, it being a better place then when I was here, but, can I be assured of that, really?

Maybe it doesn't matter because the whole issue of control won't be mine anyway, at that point.

I just know I love being alive and I love living and I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

So, I was going to publish a post having to do with food and bounty and summer and somehow, I've morphed into this soul-searching issue about turning fifty this year. I know I'm not the only one who's gone on this journey; however, at this point, it's my journey to take.

Come over. Let's talk later, over a chilled bottle of wine, about your journey and mine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Calm Down, calm down

My mind has been a jumble lately. I went on a much needed short vacation with a dear, wonderful friend recently. I came back from vacation, went back to work and have been working with a vengeance ever since. My desk looks as if a paper mill regurgitated without apology all over it.

Well, I've tried to resume my life since I came back from vacation. I've tried to keep up. I've resumed my quest for the perfect summer fruits and vegetables. Been running my younger son back and forth to work. Been paying bills, worrying about the economy, worrying about my aging parents, worrying about my oldest son, going to visit an injured friend, trying to keep up with every day life while I find myself slipping away. Again. Like before vacation.

I need to let my mind rest. The quiet place I am looking for, the quiet place I need, is somewhat elusive right now, being buried between mounds of production documents and personal issues. Can I take another vacation?

Well, probably not.

So, I have to remind myself, and probably you do too: do what is yours to do today. Show up. And do it. This is not my personal sage wisdom - it's Barb's and I take no credit for it, except to say that I need to follow it.

I say that because I have spent considerable time sitting in front of my monitor, staring at my manuscript like a blind woman. Where are the words? What am I supposed to write next? For a writer, a spiller of words, this is important. I'm trying not to worry about it but, I am worried.
I'm going to continue to show up and do what I have to do that day. The words will come.
So, please, whoever you are, show up. Do what is yours to do today. Don't worry about the rest of it. Just how up. And do what is yours to do today.
I'll do the same.
Let's meet back here and talk about it.