Meanwhile, how perfect is this? I forgot to blog about my forgotten book, after Sandra Scoppetone tagged me. This is the brainchild of Patti Abbott. (although, come to think of it, isn’t Megan Abbott the brainchild of Patti Abbott? Belated congrats on the much-deserved Edgar (r) win.)
Anyway, my choice is A NOVEL CALLED HERITAGE. A little dated, in its way, as the story would now be told through emails, no doubt. And its mix of memoir and correspondence may seem less fresh than it did. But I love this book, by Margaret Dukore, because of its ceaseless use of the writer’s (cruel, self-interested, indefensible, nevertheless essential) creed: Use it.
To say more would be to put a finger to a soap bubble. I read the novel because my sister, a bookstore employee, gave me a stripped copy. I plunged in with nothing more than the back-cover copy. A young girl is writing the story of her life. That’s all you need to know. “Use it,” is her mother’s advice. The fact that mom is self-involved and self-destructive doesn’t make her advice any less wise.
Just this week, I took a peculiar if innocuous habit of a family member and grafted it on someone in a novel, who happens to have the same relationship to the main character in the novel as this family member has to me. Yet the character and the person have nothing else in common. In fact, they are MILES apart. Galaxies apart. Night-and-day apart. How does one defend that? Got me. The act of being a writer frequently seems indefensible to me. I won’t go so far as to declare that a writer is always selling someone out. But, hey, it’s truer more often than not.
Of course, as I’ve said before: The person the writer sells out is usually the writer.