Friday, February 20, 2009

A compliment

Dear Ms. Mccracken,

Normally I would write this on notepaper or perhaps a card but I type faster than I write and when I have something important to say I say it better when I type. Normally sounds like I do this all the time but it’s been only four times or so and so really there isn’t a normally yet. What I mean is that I don’t make it a habit of writing to authors but occasionally I am compelled.

This started when I read Nick Hornby’s book, ABOUT A BOY, before Christmas. I had read him before, and loved his work, but really enjoyed ABOUT A BOY and thought I would write to him and tell him. He wrote back and suggested I would enjoy your books so I ordered AN EXACT REPLICA off Amazon. Two things: I don’t know why I ordered that one instead of one of your novels. If I think about it, I think it’s because of the title. Lovely, lovely title, reminds me of A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, which I also think is just a lovely way of arranging some words. Second thing: I wasn’t sure why I waited until last weekend to read it; I wanted to read it right off. Perhaps it was the subject matter; I have a tough time with anything to do with babies and mothering. I think your skin grows thinner in some places and thicker in others after you have babies, and mine is quite thin in most.

I took the book with me to Banff for the weekend (my husband was going for work and I go with, leaving the kids behind with Nana) as I had that rarity, Uninterrupted Reading Time. From the first page I was swept into your story and enmeshed. I know that sounds like too much, maybe, but you write with a style that I love and your words were words that I could feel.

This is so disorganized, forgive, but let me try to explain. [I’m trying again, I tried to write down the story of why I loved your book so much but I erased it and have come back here. I imagined you becoming the receiving end of hundreds of stories of heartbreak and sadness, and even though the story I would tell has a happy ending I wonder if perhaps you get story after story and that is enough for you.]

You write so beautifully and you told your story perfectly. You write the way I would love to write….just simple perfect telling.

I started the book in the lounge of the resort but I was crying right off so I had to go back to the room. I read to nearly halfway in one gulp and then put the book down. I had to take a break. You convey feelings so well that I was immersed; it was as though you are a close friend and you were telling me something of the utmost importance and because we are friends it was as though it was happening to me. If that makes any sense at all.

I didn’t read again until we were driving back to Calgary to catch our flight. I read until I was sick (I always imagine that reading in a moving vehicle won’t make me nauseous and it always does. Annoying.) I hung my head out the window in the fresh air and the air felt good on my face; I had been crying as I read and the air dried the tears.

My husband hates being the first on a plane and normally so do I; we typically hang back and wait to be nearly last to board. But on Sunday I marched us up so that I could read on the plane. I had to finish before we got home and reading would be interrupted by two children and Life.

Of course, sandwiched in between my husband and some guy, I read with tears pouring down my face. Sometimes when I read something that moves me I well up, or a single tear, or a tight chest is there. Only once before have I read something that moved me as much as your book and that was long ago. I cried and cried and sometimes would snap the book shut, thinking that I could not finish.

But I did, of course I did. And I knew that I would have to tell you how much your book means to me. How it comes to me, throughout the day, and I think of you and your family and your life, and I know that I will think of you often. I read a lot, and very few books stay with me like I know yours well.

I hate to compliment you on your writing in a way, because it’s the story that is important here, but your writing told the story so perfectly. I can hardly wait to read your other books.

I could go on and on and that is usually a good indicator to stop.

With sympathy and tears on your loss, and warmth and happiness on your good fortune (I think I saw on a website that you have 2 children now),



Lisa and Laura said...

In spite of all the books I've read and been touched by and cried over, I've never, ever written a letter to the author. Honestly, it just never occurred to me. Isn't that strange? I guess I've just always viewed authors as untouchable, gods almost. It's seems so silly as I write it, but there you have it.

Lady Glamis said...

I think she will really appreciate this! If I received a letter like this, I would be deeply honored. Good job!

lotusgirl said...

What a lovely letter! It sounds like an amazing read. I'll have to check it out.

Carlana said...

I am going to pick it up this week as I am off to Phoenix for a girls weekend and it sounds perfect to read by the pool and the spa. I will have all the girls wondering why I am the weeping fool.

spinregina said...

I still think of them as untouchable, L&L, I just feel compelled. It's some connection to this person who made me feel so much?

Lady G - yeah, honoured. Or she'll think I'm a weirdo.

Lois - amazing for sure. Bring Kleenex.

Carlana - have FUN!!! I thought I saw you walking down the street in Calgary - did I tell you that already?