Friday, February 25, 2011

Beginnings ~ of a writer

Home Safe ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2009, fiction, 8/10 (a very good book)
"One Saturday when she was nine years old, Helen Ames went into the basement, sat at the card table her mother used for folding laundry, and began writing.  She wrote about the flimsy heads of dandelions gone to seed, about the voices of her parents drifting from their bedroom at night, about the nest of coins she once found in a field of grass; then, finally, about the drowning death of one of her fourth-grade classmates in a pond thick with algae.  She had witnessed the attempted resuscitation, and certain images would not leave her:  the boy's striped shirt, his waterlogged pants, the yellow-green gunk in his hair, the Davy Crockett watch on his wrist still ticking.  From her vantage point, Helen could see the second hand going round and round, measuring something different, now, than the hours of a boy's life."
According to the next page, nothing helped "until the day she took a tablet and pencil into the basement and moved the event out of her and onto paper" (p. 4).  Helen becomes a writer -- and later teaches a writing class where she wants to tell one of the students that "moving her experience out of herself and into the open" (p. 223) is helpful.  And the same idea appears a third time, about another student:
"She had put into words a truth she needed to move outside of herself, in what she believed was a secretive way" (p. 233).
So the opening shares one of the book's themes with the reader, that putting words on paper helps a writer get past whatever is bugging her.  I liked even more the main character's feeling that she had to share things.  Here's why:
"For her, the taste of the ice cream, the red of the sunset, the humor in he movie must be shared to be" (p. 189).
I'll close this book-beginnings-turned-book-review by quoting my favorite line:
...books educate and inspire ... they soothe souls -- "like comfort food without the calories" (p. 229).
If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages.  Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading.  (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.)  Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.


Helen's Book Blog said...

Great opening to the book, I hope you enjoy it and your weekend!

Susan Tidwell said...

another one that sounds good, I really must read something by Berg!