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

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Book to Savor

Have you ever read a book so good you wanted to absorb it for a while before picking up another book?

This weekend I read Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.  I don’t know what it is about Gary D. Schmidt’s writing, but I love it.  I always start out expecting his books to be boring, but I am always, always captivated by them.  This was one of those books I want to savor for a few days before filling my mind with another story.1

Okay for Now is a finalist for the National Book Award.  I read about the latest finalists on Nikki Grimes’s blog.2  She was on the committee this year to decide the finalists and the winner.  She also wrote a recent post that touches on the idea that the current young adult publishers are seeking lower quality literature than they should be.  Reading Nikki’s ideas, it struck me that Gary D. Schmidt is one of the few current writers whose writing is truly in a class of literary artistry. 

As a result of reading his latest book:
·      I want to take up drawing again- like really drawing.  
·      I was inspired to book talk all of his books to my students.  Gary D. Schmidt fans I will make of them yet!
·      I want to write like that.  I want to write like Gary D. Schmidt. 
·      I think I should start a campaign to make Gary D. Schmidt’s books part of all middle school language arts programs (or at least make a change to our district board approved novel list).
·      I am filled with hope.
·      I have a renewed faith in the goodness of people.
·      I am ready to whip out my lesson on book flap copy because I think this is a poor example of book flap copy.  It does not do this book justice.3
·      I have a blog post!

1 I am wondering how to allow for that in my classroom reading workshop.  I am thinking that maybe Nancie Atwell’s letter-essays might be the answer.

2 Did you know that Nikki Grimes will be at the NCTE Convention?  I will also be at the NCTE convention. {big grin}  Gary D. Schmidt, however, will not be there.  {sad face}

3  My apologies to said book flap copy writer.  You have a way cool job, but I mean, let’s be real: You didn’t stand a chance going up against the brilliant writing inside the pages of that book for which you wrote a flap.  Plus, the book is such a quiet story.  How do you do that kind of story justice in so few words.  Better luck next time!

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Schmidt's books are poignant and I am so admiring of the way he weaves the themes, like Shakespeare and Audubon, into the story. It's great that you are so inspired you want to start drawing again. I'm happy you loved the book because I've been passing around my copy to every teacher, saying you have to know this book so you can give it to students.