Sunday, January 27, 2019

Let's Take the Long Way Home, Gail Caldwell

I have moved recently.  Only my husband can attest to the boxes I have emptied and stacked on bookshelves--many have gone to Goodwill, and many have ended up on funny piles stacked haphazardly by my reading chair and my bed.

These books are my "one chapter chance."

I have collected many books over the years, and as awful as I feel about this, I have started the "one chapter chance" rule.  If I can't get into the book after one chapter, I give it away.

This doesn't always work.  I'm fearfully stubborn, and I hate not finishing books, so I tell myself "one chapter chance."  Many books shouldn't have made it but continue to dog-ear where I leave off and start something else.  I finish many of these books after putting them down and picking them back up, losing the intended impact.

Anyway, one of these "one chapter chance" books is Let's Take the Long Way Home by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell.  It's a memoir.  I'm not too sweet on memoirs generally, but I've read a few that I have enjoyed.

This one was good.

Caldwell writes about her friendship and loss of Caroline Knapp, another successful writer.  The parts of the book that struck me were the parts when Caldwell spoke of herself or Caroline as a writer:
She was so quiet, so careful, and yet so fully present, and I found it a weightless liberation to be with someone whose intensity seemed to match and sometimes surpass my own.  Her hesitation was what tethered her sincerity: As much as Caroline revealed in her books, she was a deeply private person who moved into relationships with great deliberation.  I had known enough writers in my life, including myself, to recognize this trait: What made it to the page was never the whole story, but rather the writer's version of the story--a narrative with its creator in full control.
 I have felt this way about other writers and artists.  This friendship, this kindred of intensity, is what we share in writing.  Other artists understand; many others do not.

Thank you, to all of my writing friends, "whose intensity seemed to match and sometimes surpass my own."

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