Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Small Moments

When discussing books and movies and stories that people like we often talk about plot or character or the beautiful use of language. I was thinking the other day though, that so often what sticks with me, the thing that carves a spot for a book, movie, or even song in my heart is whether or not that book has the ability to capture the small moments in life. By that I mean something as simple as the quick flash of revelation, the moment you realize you're happy, shared affection and intimacy between characters that conveys more than words and big actions and gestures ever could.

These moments bring a story out of the realm of the imaginary and ground them in the real world, they make these stories stick because they feel so real.

I don't think there's any exact formula for achieving this of course (for an author) because an element of it still comes down to whether or not they use the words that register with your heart while you're reading. Have you been self aware enough in life to recognize these moments yourself? Do you take mental snapshots of the simple, ridiculous, and sweet moments of life?

It's no surprise that the books I've loved this year are the kind that excel at that, and the one that comes to mind most immediately is You are My Only by Beth Kephart. Anyone who has read one of Beth's books know she's an observer, that her books are about characters being torn open and stitched up with hope, that healing never ever comes apart from healing together. I haven't yet been able to write a proper review for this book, because no other book this year has affected me like You Are My Only did. It's a beautiful and powerful book on its own, but it's also a book that met me exactly where I needed to be met at the moment in life. And I think that's also a little bit of what having a favorite author is all about...they always write in such a way that you marvel at their gift for knowing bits of your heart you can't express yourself.

This has been a strange reading year. I feel like I've been reading more for the mind (and I don't mean academically sadly) than the heart. So the heart books are winning out big time.

So creating those scenes...including warm comfort foods always helps, those intimate moments between characters, those minutes when you they realize something about themselves...creates a lasting story for me.

What authors do you think are good at doing this?


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