Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When We Were the Kennedys

I just about devoured Monica Wood's memoir When We Were the Kennedys. It is so good. And, as I've said before, I'm not really a memoir-reader. As most people know, I'm a huge Monica Wood fan. When I had my bookstore, she was the first author I ever invited to read and sign. We never had very big turnouts in my little store in Oxford, Maine, but she was always gracious, and generous, and kind. And it is those attributes that shine through her work but not in a sappy, overly-sentimental way. Wood says what needs to be said but she always finds the light in people and it makes reading her novels, her stories, and now her memoir, an utterly luminescent experience.

I won't spend too much time on the memoir itself because it has already received much much-deserved attention. Suffice to say it's a sweetly-told story of a year that changed everything for a family, a town, a nation. It is a story of love and devotion, failures and triumphs. It's just wonderful even if you have no idea where Mexico, Maine might be (maybe especially if you have no idea).

While you're at it, I would suggest reading some of Wood's other books. My favorite, and a book I hand sold over and over, is still My Only Story. This is the story of hairstylist Ruth and a man named John whom she feels destined to save from his terrible loss. It is the story of mistakes big and small, and forgiveness, and really letting go. All of it written in Wood's uniquely breathtaking prose. I should say here that Monica Wood makes me feel like plagiarizing--her words are so beautifully strung together I often have the urge to just grab a pen and copy everything down--not so much to pass it off as my own, but to savor it, to look at it, to figure out how she did that with just ordinary words we all use.

A very close second is Ernie's Arc, a collection of closely linked stories. But Secret Language and Any Bitter Thing are wonderful, too (most people I've talked to rate the latter as their favorite so far). And, if you write, you should have The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse II as well as Description. 

If your reading repertoire has not included anything by Monica Wood, you should change that. You won't be sorry.

No comments:

Post a Comment