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Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Newest Penpal (I Hope)

Dear Monica;

In case the manager of the bookstore where you work here in Duck, North Carolina doesn't give you my business card, or, you decide communicating with someone you never met - even via e-mail - is creepy, I still feel obligated to let you know you have a reading soul mate in New Jersey.

Your pile of picks slayed me. I was so disappointed you weren't working the day I visited the store. A few questions anyway. Which element of the multi-dimensional "The Brief And Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao" most captivated you? How well do you think the film version of "Brooklyn" captured the magic of that small masterpiece? Who would you cast as the doctor/serial killer if "The Devil In The White City" gets adapted to the screen? (I see Owen Wilson, against type.)

And, when you tell others about "The Things They Carried", do you call it fiction or non-fiction? Which other books have you read that enriched your understanding of a foreign culture as well as "The Kite Runner"? How did that film adaptation compare with the book for you?

If you're certain you're going to be near the New Jersey shore on the second Tuesday of any month in the future, be sure to let me know in advance. There's a good chance you'll enjoy whatever book I've selected to discuss at my club; we'd love to have you join us. In the meanwhile, I look forward to learning about other favorites of yours.


1 comment:

  1. Dear my New Jersey reading soul mate,

    When was the last time someone made you believe in the power of words, the kindness of strangers and the simple joys of human connection? I can honestly say it has made my entire summer to see your blog post and read of your love of books - many of which kept me thinking, wondering and entranced long after I turned the last page.

    Before I continue into a long monologue of a girl who loves to read I must tell you that I think you saw my co-worker’s pile of books as I have yet to read “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” and “Brooklyn” although they have been on my list for some time. I have, however, read all the other books and they are some of my absolute favorites. It’s hard for me to say which books I love the best because I believe that books, stories and characters often find you just when you need them the most.

    I remember being so captivated by “The Things They Carried” the first time I picked it up. I always want to recommend it to others but I sometimes find it so hard to explain. I don’t know if I could put it into a clear cut category such as fiction or non-fiction. The actions, reactions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, realities and heartaches of the men carrying emotional and physical weight was undeniably true to me, but in a lot of ways fiction resonates with me greater than non-fiction. While I love memoirs, biographies, history and more I often find such clarity in the carefully woven stories and imagined tales.

    The “Kite Runner” was probably one of the first books that truly immersed me in a foreign culture and peaked my interest in books similar to its intensity, truth and the tendency to portray human nature to be both cruel and forgiving. Immediately after devouring “Kite Runner” I read both of Khaled Hosseini’s additional novels, “And the Mountains Echoed” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” The later of the two gave me such invaluable insight into the tradition, intriguing relationships and immense power control has over the life of women in Afghanistan. Did you ever read either of these? Or have you read other books that let you see human life for all its flaws and beauty?

    My grandmother, one of fourteen children, comes from a huge Irish-Catholic family and grew up in Brooklyn. I’ve been longing to read “Brooklyn” for a while in hopes to glimpse the beauty and intrigue of the city, while also imagining her trancing through the streets in her youth. I have held off on watching the movie, but I am interested in watching it after I read the book. Did you enjoy the film as well as the novel? I almost always love a book more than its screen adaptation because while I love films there is something sacred about the versions of characters I create inside my mind.

    I have a copy of “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” on one of many book shelves and plan to start reading it tonight. I have many books that I love, but recently I read “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and it has become a new favorite. It reminds of the “Kite Runner,” particularly in its ability to enrich my understanding of a new culture, different way of life and the intricacies of family relationships. The author paints an intoxicating landscape of Nigeria and portrays a family caught in between freedom and confinement, love and hatred and finding forgiveness for those we love.

    I am sorry I dragged this email out, but I wanted to answer your questions as best I could and give you a glimpse into something I love. While I may not be the exact reading soul mate you thought you were corresponding with I know we share many favorites and I would love to hear about more books and authors you cherish. Just as books find us at the right moment, I think people do too and again I’m grateful to you reaching out. While I don’t have any plans to visit the Jersey shore in the near future I do have a great deal of family that live in and around Monmouth beach and Asbury Park so maybe one day you’ll see me on the second Tuesday of the month at your book club.

    your newest pen pal (I hope),