Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kindness and Light

There was another brilliant "A Life in Writing" interview in The Guardian about two weeks ago, with Ann Patchett. I have only read her first novel, Patron Saint of Liars, and her memoir Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Crealy (and highly recommend both), but her other books are on my To Read list. I love the quote they used as the heading:

She seems to get criticised for her cheery outlook and happy endings, but she is adamant that there are enough people writing about the darker side of human nature, and since she is "a positive, cheerful person", her books focus on human goodness: "In my life I have met astonishingly good people". Reading this interview put me in a good mood. I tend to read a lot of books with heavy, dark subject matter, but recently I have been seeking out more and more books like Ann Patchett's. I absolutely loved Siri Hustvedt's latest novel, which managed to deal with difficult themes in a light, redemptive way, and I am currently reading Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate, which is hilarious.

Another thing that stayed with me after reading this article was what Patchett took away from her mentors in college, whom she credits with changing her life. One of them, the writer Grace Paley, taught her the lesson of "having a single voice and being one person, so you're the same person as a mother, a friend, a teacher, a writer, an activist, a citizen". So important, and so hard.

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