Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Synchronicity...or something like that

"Dear Oprah,
Do you remember when you first learned to read, or like me, can you not even remember a time when you didn't know how?" Harper Lee - "O" Magazine, July 2006

I often have these weird flashes of synchronicity, when something I'm musing on suddenly starts appearing everywhere. (Wish I could manifest money in the same way!)

A couple of weeks ago, in our writer's group, we got to discussing how some authors can continuously put out great novels, over and over. We marvelled at the talent and drive to turn out books year after year - and not just the "formula, crank-em out books" but well written literature. And then we pondered over the writer who writes just one great novel in their entire career and then disappears from the bookshelves. For example, Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. A classic, much loved piece of literature. An only novel. A reclusive author. One wonders - is that all they had? What happened to them? Where are they now? and so on (much like my musings earlier on Susan Kay and Phantom). I even recall asking, "is Harper Lee still alive?" I suppose one can always Google the answer to that, but really it's more fun to just ponder it.

The conversation was relegated to the recesses of my mind, pushed back by more urgent thoughts like "what the heck I'm I going to make for supper?" and "who's turn is it to go to the city this weekend?". Last Friday it was my turn to be in the city. I was standing in line at the grocery store, blankly gazing over the magazine headlines - "Angelina's baby not Brad's", "Britney and Kevin in trouble" yada yada and "O" Magazine caught my eye. Maybe it was the lovely sunny yellow outfit Oprah had on, or those eye-catching article headlines, or face it, I was bored and thought it might give me something to browse through at lunch, but I ended up throwing the magazine in with the groceries.

At lunch, I was flipping through the pages looking at the "Oprah-endorsed" reading list when I flipped to a letter from Harper Lee. There she is, in bold black and white print with large signature scrawled at the bottom of the page. Apparantly, Harper Lee is very much alive and writing to Oprah.

It's a fabulous letter, not just an endorsement of reading, but a glimpse of the passion for books. The kind that get sucked up into your soul while reading. The kind you hate to put down. An ode to those of us who always seemed to know "how" to read and don't remember how we learned. A poignant look back at a time when books ruled as entertainment. Or, as Harper Lee writes, "Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books."

On Sunday, my youngest called out "Mom, To Kill a Mockingbird is on the movie channel!". I wish I hadn't been in the middle of a "do or die" cleaning project, so that I could have sat down and watched it.

I'm still pondering why some authors will pour themselves into only one book, and never seem to touch the printed page again. And, I can't help thinking, Ms. Lee after years of silence - why Oprah??? * o

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