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Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Idea That Got Away

Soon after I began in March 2011, an early reader heavily lobbied me to devote my blog to books. Though I never gave it serious consideration, infrequently over the ensuing years a book like So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980) persuades me the idea had conditional merit. If, from the outset, my blog had been narrowly aimed at other readers only, would my unqualified endorsement of William Maxwell's taut gem have been more likely to entice others to read it? And if so, would those same readers have then engaged me in the kind of robust online dialogue I envisioned when I joined the blogosphere?

"...in talking about the past, we lie with every breath we draw."

I'm still reeling at how masterfully Maxwell toggles from first to third person narration telling this elemental tale; I can't recall reading another novel where this was done as seamlessly. 

"He was almost forty years old and lately it had seemed to him that he had lived a long time and that just about everything that could happen to him had happened." 

Great writing need not draw attention to itself. Simple words often create spare sentences rich with timeless wisdom.

"There is a limit, surely, to what one can demand of one's adolescent self."

Of the nearly 1900 I've published, I'd estimate 20% of my blog posts have featured books that have moved me. Of all those books, perhaps twenty-five have elevated me as a reader as much as "So Long, See You Tomorrow". Some of my most gratifying moments as a blogger have occurred when a reader later tells me a book they first learned of here touched them. I look forward to hearing from you about William Maxwell's masterpiece. 

(Shoutout to my oldest niece - a charter member of my reading posse - the person who turned me on to this winner.)   


  1. I knew you would like this one! I agree about the writing--simple, done well, is powerful. Thanks for the shout-out, and for influencing me as a reader, too :).