I just attended a meeting of the Baltimore chapter of the Maryland Writer’s Association at Ukazoo Books in Towson. http://www.ukazoo.com/ I must give a plug to the venue. Ukazoo is a cozy, well-stocked, independent book store with great prices on new and used books.
Tonight’s speaker was Marion Winik. http://www.marionwinik.com/ She writes nonfiction: personal essays, memoir, creative nonfiction–we had a hard time boxing her into a genre, though we tried. Marion does, without a doubt, write raw, honest, vivid sketches of her life. She has been published in many places, including the New York Times Magazine. She is also an NPR Commentator and a teacher.
Her latest book, The Glenrock Book of the Dead, is about 51 people she knows who have died. Touching, tender, and sad, the book is a collection of mini eulogy’s meant to honor the dead long after the sting of their passing has numbed. It is meant to keep their memories alive.
Marion’s presentation was riveting. I hung on her every word. I wanted her to keep talking. And that was because it was honest, it was real, and it was rough. She held nothing back.
It got me thinking of what makes a reader unable to put down a book. It’s the car accident analogy. You don’t want to look, but you have to. It’s compelling when writer’s “go there,” make me squirm in my seat, make me uncomfortable, or make me feel like I’m eavesdropping. The trouble is, making a reader feel that way means the writer had to feel that way putting down the words. Sometimes I have a hard time putting down those words.
Hemingway said that writers have to tell the truth. Sometimes, the truth is ugly. I’m going to try to write some “ugly” scenes this week.