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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Two Voices I Wish I Could Hear - IWSG September 2020

 

 It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. A big thank you to September co-hosts: PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

This month’s question: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Let me start by explaining something. Up until about five years ago, our family room built-in shelves were bulging with front to back, double rows of books. Those we couldn’t fit lay on top. When a book made it into our house, it found a permanent home because not only am I an ardent reader, I am also a dedicated re-reader. I’m not sure why the “keeping-all-the-books-I’ve-ever-read-in-my-life-thing” changed, perhaps as a result of online libraries or because after twenty-seven years, our home was starting to feel cluttered. Whatever. Finally, I purged, keeping only those titles with which, I couldn’t bear to part.

Off I went to those depleted shelves once I read this month’s question. Choosing one author? Impossible. But there are two authors whose books I’ve been rereading lately, which has been a help through this hard and altered summer. Sadly, both have passed on now. If either of them could have offered me suggestions on my work, I’d have been over the moon.

The first is Anita Shreve, who wrote with mystical fluidity while fictionalizing significant historical events during which her characters confront hard and life-altering truths. Toss in simple prose, spare imagery that doesn’t waste a word, and her ability to reach back in time— in some cases as adult characters telling of their twelve or fifteen-year-old-selves. While all of her stories are mature in nature, she was skilled in transporting her readers back to the past and in at least one case (Light on Snow) to the ache of youth. A few years back, I had a chance to go to a reading in which Shreve would have been featured. Sadly, she had to cancel due to illness. She died not long after.

The other author I wish I could have known is Anne Rivers Siddons whose books make this New England girl yearn for the South Carolina Low Country. I see everything she writes in my mind’s eye and it guts me. When I first read her book about a southerner’s experience as a Maine summer transplant (Colony), I was blown away with how she not only got the south, but the north, too. (Turns out, while Siddons was southern bred, she later summered in Maine). I can pick up any one of her books and be lost, and she gets bonus points lately because a few years ago, our daughter moved to Charleston. Now, when I read Siddons and she features King Street, or Folly Beach, or Sullivan’s Island, I say, “I’ve been there,” and I picture my daughter, who I miss so very much. Some of Siddons books may be dated, but they’re so universal in scope they don’t feel that way. Sadly, it was only while writing this blog post that I discovered the author died last September. 

As always when this happens, I’m a little bereft to learn another stunning voice has been stilled.

What authors do you love?  I would love to hear why.

15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sad they are both gone, but their voices still linger. I'm sure you enjoyed visiting the places Siddons wrote about.

Leigh Caron said...

What a wonderful tribute to both authors. Truth be told I have not read their books...but now I am definitely curious. When I moved to Mexico, bringing all my books didn't make sense. Like you, I kept a few that were too dear to leave behind...but it was sad leaving all of the others behind.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - I'm glad for you that you've thinned out your books - the local charity shops will have benefited. Your two authors sound fascinating - loved the Siddons story ... sad they've left this world so young. Great your daughter is there and you can reminisce with the books, while you and your daughter chat about the area.

Take care - Hilary

Joanne said...

Tough picks I'm sure to thin the ranks. I do that every so often, and then have regrets. Good choices on your writers - so good. Sue Grafton and her alphabet series - never to be a Z. She was entertaining and solid, dependable. Nora Roberts - essays, humor. She could be counted on for a quick turn of phrase. Those two women are in my pantheon. And there are SO many more. Excellent post that shall have me contemplating authors today. Take care

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sorry that both authors you would choose are no longer alive, but their words and talents live on.

I used to keep a lot of books too. Right before my husband died, he started donating a lot of them. I continued with that but I still have too many books, but some remind me of my husband so I keep them for now.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

It's been a long time since I've read those authors, but seeing their names here made me smile and sent me back to the past where some good memories await. :)

Jan Morrison said...

Love both these writers. Too many writers for me to choose but I am reading the new novel by Hilary Mantel. So excited to dive down into it. Michael Ondaatje is another favourite writer of mine, but it would be torture to have him read anything I wrote I am afraid. My computer is not letting me make apostrophes which is why I sound like some old-fashioned person here!

joylene said...

Sadly, I don't know either of these ladies. I agree, choosing one is too difficult. I can't even narrow it down to 5. TG for books! And authors!

mshatch said...

I agree with Alex that it's sad they're gone but hopefully their books will live on. I'd be happy dying knowing I had my books to live on after me, like little extensions of my soul.

PJ Colando said...

Thanks for sharing your favorite authors and I agree. If I could share writing time with F. Scott Fitzgerald, I'd adore it. And him, so handsome was he.

However, we'd likely swig too much Scotch and never get down to writing... hic-cup! Perhaps I should select Sue Grafton and Kinsey Milhone. We'd get down to business and solve that crime!

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm down to three bookcases, but in our smaller house here, it still feels like too many books. Sigh.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I had to purge my bookcases too when I downsized. It was liberating and gave me more room on the shelves to buy more books ;)

It is hard to pick just one beta reader.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Liza. I don't think I've read either of the authors you mention. I must have seen their books in airport bookstores, because each name seemed so familiar as I read your post. I've been purging my books for years. I've literally given away thousands. A few weeks ago I ended up sitting on the floor sobbing over trying to give away more of "my friends." To my delight when I reshelved those that were left, I had enough space to stash some Covid-inspired extra food and supplies. Since then, I've been madly buying more books ~ LOL! All the best to you!

cleemckenzie said...

Books are one thing I have great difficulty parting with. ergo the piles that seem to accumulate around the house. And when a writer I admire dies, I feel as if a family member has left forever.

Good choices of beta readers!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Liza, I'm sorry for being so late, but I tried posting twice and Blogger ate my comments. I remember how much I enjoyed "The Pilot's Wife," and it's a shame you never got to meet Anita Shreve. How exciting that you've seen some of the beautiful settings in Siddons' novels, thanks to your daughter. It's heartbreaking that your favorite authors both passed away.

Julie