Turning Over a New Leaf – Leaf? As in tree or book?
Sub-title suggests writer has a problem. She was about to announce she was going to be more spontaneous and/or regular writing for her web site and instead revealed the very character trait which makes her resolve unlikely.
She’s off on an analytical tangent which leads her to the embarrassing conclusion that all her long life she visualized the “leaf” as green when obviously the “leaf”one turns must be of a book.
Oh well, a New Leaf it is. And Mark Haddon, author, is my inspiration. Today I found my way to his web site, http://www.markhaddon.com and after viewing some amazing “accidental” paintings there, I read, “I’ve written very little here over the past few weeks because most my energy has been taken up by….” (Yes, there is a tiny word missing in that partial sentence.) Mark Haddon is the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” for which he won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 2003 and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Overall Best First Book in 2004. I read this amazing book for the first time in April 2010.
It is incredibly well written, it is tender, it is heartbreaking, it is a page turner (“leaf”?), I could easily describe it as the best book I have ever read. And I didn’t read it seven years ago because “everyone” was reading it and proclaiming their similarly high opinions.
I have stopped to ask myself whence this arbitrary snobbism. I have done the recovery group thing and confessed broadly that I have this failing and have heard others admit to it as well, which doesn’t make me less a snob nor perhaps more a fool. Speaking for myself, I chose not to read this book because it is a first person narrative written in the voice of a 15 year old boy who is “somewhere on the autism scale”. I couldn’t believe it would be anything but clumsy. I couldn’t imagine that “I” (sense of superiority here) would be pulled in by such artifice.
I am happy to say I was very very wrong. There is no artifice here. The author obviously knows and understands with profound sensitivity all of the characters he has created, most especially the young man who is telling the story in his own voice. Reading this book, with my own slight knowledge of autism, there was not one moment when I wondered what the author “knew” – rather, I marveled that he knew so well. And he never “lost it”.
It is a leap between Mark Haddon’s “I’ve written very little here over the past few weeks because…” and my turning a”new leaf” to resolve to write more, but for me it is clear. It is a call to courage, my own, even if and when it feels like bravado. I will post! I will post because it is my way of reaching out. I will post to passersby who may simply brush by in their busy-ness. I will post with no expectations (liar liar!!) Um, I will keep my expectations in the closet. And I will try to keep my postings brief.
©Elaine A. Zimbel 2010
Posted in Uncategorized