Let’s just say that I liked her second book enough to read the first, and that the issues I have with both are far outweighed by what I loved.
Terrific. A great example of a book where the plot is as thin as a pre-adolescent ballerina, but the writing just so gorgeous.
Yay. I get to choose the book this month for our book club. It is my pleasure to introduce Henning Mankell to my dear friends.
Why didn’t anyone tell me this would be so good? I find hearing a book has been made into a film or TV series to be great motivation to read it.
When I first started gardening seriously, about six years ago, I planted what I liked. I bought lupine seeds because I loved the book Miss Rumphius. Needless to say, my hot-and-sticky D.C. garden did not transform into the cool, Maine seaside field of lupine flowers shown below.
I did not learn my lesson.
I went on to plant mophead hydrangeas in the sun, french noisette roses in the shade, jam too many strawberry plants into a tiny bed and generally ignore that which I was able to grow well in favor of what I enjoyed looking at.
All this became crystal clear to me this afternoon as I made a brutal assessment of my garden and ripped anything that was underperforming. I am undergoing a similar process with my writing. I love Graham Greene, Zadie Smith, David Lodge, Cheryl Mendohlson, Michael Robotham etc.
But I don’t write like them.
I can enjoy their respective styles, without attempting them in my own, err, garden. Now this may seem an obvious point, but I admit that recently I had allowed voices into my head that actively discourage following one’s own instincts. These voices are not disembodied, they belong to “experts” who speak publicly, write books and fill the internets with their advice. They are cut from the same cloth of the gardening experts who wax poetic about the magic of delphiniums (delphinii?) even though anyone living in the South will tell you the chances of successfully growing a delphinium run about the same as winning Powerball.
There’s no shame in acknowledging limitations, because doing so then clears room to focus on one’s strengths. Just as I have cleared my beds for the fall — tossing a feeble, low-blooming hibiscus, an underwhelming weeping cherry, and scads of overly assertive tiarella — I am also clearing my head. Clearing it not just of voices that treat writing like a paint-by-numbers exercise, but also of my own sometimes outlandish expectations.
I am making room for what works.
Every year I am shocked at what an enormous monster this vine becomes. I wish it were evergreen. It would look wonderful against the snow.
The zinnias look as if they want to jump out of bed and run away. Neglected and wild.
Little , bitty clippings will one day make a beautiful, low hedge, right? Upon closer (or farther) inspection, that bottom left chunk needs a little straightening out.
Her new book is to be released by Tuttle Publishing on October 11, 2016. Ann will also be speaking around D.C.
Saturday, October 15, Aki Matsuri at the U.S. National Arboretum from 10 am to 5 pm, Free. For more information: www.usna.usda.gov/Education/events
Saturday, October 15, Otsukimi or Moon Viewing sponsored by the Japan-America Society of DC at the U.S. National Arboretum from 6 to 9 pm, children under 15 free. For more information check the Japan-America Society of DC website under upcoming events.
Saturday, November 5, DC Author Festival hosted by the DC Public Library at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, from 10 am to 5 pm, Free. For more information: www.dclibrary.org/dcauthorfest
Friday, November 18, National Press Club Bookfair, 529 14th Street, NW, 5:30 -8:30 pm. Tickets are $5 for National Press Club and Politics & Prose members, $10 for the public. For more information: www.press.org/bookfair
Wednesday, November 30, University Club of DC Meet the Author Night and Book Fair, 1135 16th Streets, NW, 5:30 -8:00 pm, Free. For more information, www.universityclubdc.com
Thursday, December 8, DC Public Library, Tenleytown, Joint Talk and Signing with Stephen Voss and Sandra Moore, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, 7 pm, Free.
But sometimes it is the key that unlocks all kinds of melancholia.
Passed by this tree-swing the other day. Evoked all kinds of feelings of long-ago summers, childhood ending, the end of innocence.