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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Lunch With Anna

Of the authors you consider favorites which one can you easily imagine as a friend?

About halfway into "Thinking Out Loud" (1993), the first Anna Quindlen book I ever read, I started writing a letter to her. I didn't finish it, primarily because it started sounding a little creepy to me. But I have since maintained my one-sided friendship with her through several subsequent books. Both her non-fiction and her novels have an accessibility that almost feels like she is inviting me to lunch. Ever had an experience like this?

"Blessings" (2002) is my third Quindlen novel. Like both "Black & Blue" & "Every Last One", the premise is contemporary, the narrative straightforward, characters familiar. Although she herself is widely read - my favorite Quindlen essay, packaged as a book, is "How Reading Changed My Life" - the fiction of hers I've read does not feature experimental flourishes like the ones used by some of her favorite authors, e.g. Dom DeLillo. But every missing post-modern device in "Blessings" is richly replaced with Quindlen's wise and humane prose.  "Most people turned out the way you'd expect. But not all. Not by a long shot."

I do have one minor quibble about "Blessings" - Quindlen's editor let her down. Throughout this otherwise excellent novel the number of sentences containing "had had" is downright distracting. And here's where I veer into fantasy land - Quindlen stumbles onto or learns about this post, decides my discerning eye has been helpful, invites me to lunch. For the record, Anna: I'll gladly pay.

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