Sunday, August 2, 2009

Write the Words of My Heart -- TSS

The other day as I was writing my review for Short Girls, I paused for a moment to try to figure out just why I had loved the book so much. It was a literary character driven times I have very little patience with those. In fact, I recalled to mind a few other books that were the same way...the slow unfolding of events, the close examination of character, and while I thought they were good, I didn't love them the way I loved Short Girls. I knew I would give Short Girls a glowing review, I knew I could say nothing less than that I had loved it, that it had touched me, and that most importantly I had related to it. I found little bits of myself in the characters with blinding clarity. But sure enough, Sheri came by and left a comment--she thought the book was well written but it just didn't hold her attention.

Why the difference? Well of course, there's the reality that we all approach books with our own life stories and experiences. Whereas I could see myself in Van's desperation to keep her husband and Linny's fear of committing to anything (and yes I know that sounds contradictory, but it's true!) maybe Sheri didn't. But even more than that, it was the language that was used, the words, the metaphors, the symbols, and the examples that resonated with someone had come along and plucked the words out of my heart that I couldn't put together myself and wrote a book that reflected my thoughts right back at me.

This is such an unusual occurrence in reality. While I love many books for many different reasons, loving a book because it feels like a piece of yourself doesn't happen all that often. In fact, across all of the artistic expressions, I would say it's quite rare. It's the same reason I am such a huge fan of the music of Andrew Peterson...despite of course the lovely poetic quality to his lyrics, it's hearing a simple line and thinking..."yes that's it! That's how I felt and I could never express it before."

It's the gift that artists give us...they find expression for the longings, secrets, desires, wounds, and hopes of our hearts. It is no longer just their creation, but it becomes a bridge between us when someone says, "oh I loved that book!" And a thrill shoots through us as we answer, "Me, too!"



Sandy Nawrot said...

It is magic when you find a book or author that speaks to your soul. I always know when I have found one of those when I enter an almost dream-like state while I am reading (completely unaware of time and reality), and then a tingly euphoria when I finish. The book doesn't even have to be a "feel good" read. It almost feels like when you have connected with someone you know will be a best friend or a future spouse! My frailty here is that I am so terribly disappointed when someone else says they didn't like the book, but I know I cannot expect everyone to have the same connection. But when you find someone that DOES appreciate it? Priceless!

Meghan said...

I loved this post, Amy. It's always amazing when I find someone who can articulate my thoughts better than I can, whether it's someone who writes as if they're writing for me or a musician who can get that emotion across in just that way. And finding someone who feels that way too about that book or song or whatever does create an instant bond!

Literary Feline said...

I love it when a book has that kind of impact on me. Often the books I enjoy most are the ones I can relate to on some level. It may not be the most obvious connection to an outsider, but something about a particular book might strike a chord with me.

Beth F said...

Great post, Amy. I too love that feeling of being totally lost in a book, unable to do anything but keep reading. I love finding lines in music or books that make me say, "Yes, that's it. That's what I mean [feel, think, see]."

My husband wasn't much of a reader when he was young, but found a book in junior high that did just that for him (Walden), and once hit with that feeling, a reader was born.

bermudaonion said...

I too love it when I can relate to characters so well I feel like the author is writing about me. We all start a book with different life experiences, so the book impacts us each in a different way. I love this post!

Memory said...

someone had come along and plucked the words out of my heart that I couldn't put together myself and wrote a book that reflected my thoughts right back at me.

I find that so true. It's just how I feel about books that really resonate with me. They're the ones that become more than words on a page; they're little pieces of myself and my world, set down in fictional form. Maybe they don't match with my own life in a literal sense, but metaphorically, they're spot on.

This is a beautiful post.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I certainly hope that I didn't offend you by being honest about my feelings on Short Girls. I loved the cover and expected to love the book. I read it as a review book that I had said "yes" to.

Let me say that I totally agree with the fact that this book is well written. The author has produced a lovely book in terms of use of language, writing style, etc.

Here's my review post:

You will see that I compliment the author's writing style multiple times in my review. I think I just had a hard time with the characters. I most related to Van. I could totally understand not wanting to give up on your marriage and maintaining hope for a reconciliation. However, I also think that she put her head in the sand after some time had passed. She needed to find more self-love and self-respect. Easy for me to say... (not)... since I've been so down in the past year. But, when I was young... I was strong-willed, sassy, and never would let a man put my heart in that place.

On her sister... well... I just needed her to leave that situation with the married man sooner than she did. She needed to find a way to self-respect and self-love, too. It's like both of these sisters didn't love themselves enough to stand up for themselves.

And, the Daddy... I just wanted to go and visit him and look at his inventions. I kept totally picturing American Inventor (that show from a couple of years ago). I liked Daddy...

All in all, Amy... you and I have agreed on many books in the past... about how good they are, about cautions to look out for, etc. This is just one that we didn't read with the same outlook. More than anything, I certainly hope that I wasn't offensive to you in any way. I'm glad that this book resonated with you and that you liked it so much. I'm sorry that we didn't share the love for this one.

Speaking of which... have you read Tour de Force?


Gavin said...

Amy - Thank you for a wonderful post. It it true that we may love many book but there are those tha speak directly to us. I find myself remembering them a year or two later and wanting to read them again. Have a great week.

Amee said...

I totally agree! Art--music, literature, etc.-- is so subjective. That's why I think it's such a shame when people get made fun of for their choice of books or music or movies or whatever. I have often experienced that, so it's nice to see someone who understands that it's not only one way, it's what the person brings to it that determines how something will impact them.

writemeg said...

Love this post, too! You're so right, and I completely agree with you -- that is the gift of artists, to give voice to feelings, dreams and longings we didn't even know we had. The ability to hear a song, see a movie or read a book that perfectly reflects back our own feelings is miraculous -- and when you find something like that, all you want to do is share it with others!

Two books that shocked me recently by reflecting my own feelings back to me were John Green's An Abundance of Katherines and Katherine Center's Everyone Is Beautiful. I could gush about both of them all day -- and others! :)

Jemima said...

I agree that it is the literary techniques that enable the emotional connection to a novel.

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