a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Have a New Crush

This book was delivered to my doorstep in an Amazon box.  Though the smile on the side of the box is familiar to me, I had not been expecting a delivery.  Upon opening the box, I discovered two books that I knew I had not ordered, had not even had in my shopping cart, on a wishlist, or done a search for: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and The Time Traveler’s Wife. 

My first instinct was to apologize to my husband for teasing him every time something arrived in the mail for him that he could not remember ordering (I tell him he must “sleepshop” the way some people sleepwalk).  Since my pride caused me to be less than eager to follow my first instinct, I went with my second instinct: check the packing slip.  It turned out the books were an unexpected gift-for-no-special-occasion from my friend Beth (phew, no apology-to-husband required). 

That in and of itself is outstanding.  Beth and I have known each other since we were in second grade.  Actually, “since we were in second grade” isn’t exactly accurate.  We knew each other from second grade to 6th grade.  Then from 10th grade to somewhere around freshman year in college.  And now that we are 32, each married, and she has a daughter, we have reconnected.  That is more accurate.  But even with those gaps, Beth is one of those friends with whom friendship is just easy.  It is comfortable to spend time with her.  Our husbands feel as if they have known each other for years, even though they’ve only met twice now.  That kind of easy. 

I had asked Beth, in a recent e-mail, what she reads these days.  I have been reading young adult literature for so many years and experiencing a sort of dry-spell as far as grown-up literature that I deem worthy of my time.  Young adult literature is so rich, has so much depth, and provides both escape for me as well as a means for me to be better at my job by providing fodder for recommendations for my students. 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer made me fall in love with grown-up literature again.  Why haven’t I read this book already?  Why has nobody recommended this gem to me before?  I am smitten. 

It took me longer than usual to read this one.  I wanted to savor every word.  I didn’t want it to end.  I am in love with the characters, the language, the format, the story.  I read and reread line after line.  I read passages aloud to my husband.  I never read passages aloud to my husband!  I think he even enjoyed it. 

I have so much to say about it, and yet I have no idea what I have to say about it.  I know the book is extra special to me because of the manner in which it was placed in my hands, but it is more than worthy of my regard. 

Jonathan Safran Foer is my new author-crush.  I am on a quest to devour his words.  Yet, I want to save the rest of his works, leave them unread because the anticipation is half the joy.   


  1. I have not read a grown-up book for so long, I'm not sure I could read a book without pictures. But you have made me start to think...
    I remember loving books that much, it might be time to try again!

  2. Donna, this book DOES have pictures!! Even more reason to love it!

  3. What a lovely piece, not just about the book, but about your friend. I hope you send it to her as a thankyou for your wonderful surprise. As for the book, I haven't read it, but now I'll try to find it. It too was a loving tribute. I loved the easy way you told your story, extending the information, like telling about reading the bits to your husband. Nice!

  4. So I am going out on not so long a limb and just admitting it must be me and what I read. (Sob!)

  5. This was a wonderful post about the books and the friend who sent them . You are a lucky woman! And it sounds like I may have to do a little book shopping

  6. @Dena, if you withheld this book from me, then you are most certainly to blame! But if you didn't even know how awesome it is, how could you possibly be at fault?? You must suggest it as a future book club pick, though. I insist.