It’s been a curiosly discombobulated day…chalk it up to rainy weather and a husband with the sniffles, but I’ve not managed to accomplish any of the tasks I’d set out to do. Unable to focus, I’ve started several projects and then wandered off into another room leaving them incomplete. Alas, the evening promises to be no different, as I’ve come here to write for Sunday Salon, leaving the remnants of tonight’s dinner still piled on the kitchen counter waiting to be cleared away.
My reading this week has been a tad more on point. Having finished Lit, the third volume in the trilogy that traces the development of poet and author Mary Karr, I’ve actually gone back in time to 16th century England, and am immersed in the politics, intrigue, and romance of Henry Tudor’s court. Wolf Hall is a stunning historical novel, and I’m captivated by the way Hilary Mantel has inserted herself into the hearts and minds of these men who lived and breathed 5 centuries ago. She has breathed such life into them that I can almost hear the swish of their stockings and the rustle of their velvet capes as they stride purposefully through history.
Lit, on the other hand, is wholly contemporary, a book about a woman who has become a poster child for all of our 20th century bug-a-boos…dysfunctional family, mental illness, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse. Not that these problems didn’t occur before our era, but only that they weren’t spotlighted with such frequency. Swept under the rug and locked in the closet they were, not written about in books that become best sellers and garner their authors appearances on television shows and front covers of magazines.
At first reading, Lit might just be another one in a long line of stories about messed up literary types who take to drink and ultimately hit bottom, all their genius and talent destroyed at the bottom of a bottle or the end of a line of cocaine. But Karr isn’t your ordinary literary genius. In fact, to hear her tell it, she’s no genius at all. “…when I went to graduate school I would’ve said I was among the least talented of the students,” she says in an interview with Huffington Post. “I was certainly the least smart, or less educated. But I worked very hard. I worked very hard on these books, and one of the things I do is I rewrite, and rethink and reconsider.”
That’s the beauty of her story in Lit, I think. There is ample evidence of rethinking and reconsidering, both in her prose and in her life. She’s hard on herself, she obviously expects a lot of herself, and in the end, it’s the hard work that saves her from herself. The hard work, and the Word. “Words would define me, govern and determine me. Words warranted my devotion…” she writes. Writing becomes spirituality for her, serves as her earthly higher power ~until she makes the acquaintance of a spiritual version.
It’s late – I’m off to resume the tale of Thomas Cromwell, who had troubles aplenty of his own.
I hope your Sunday has been pleasant and productive.