Friday, November 5, 2010


And now for a "review" of this stunningly gorgeous book, in which I pretty much just quote the author and then quote a section from the book. Enjoy!

Abigail Thomas on Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life:

"My editor turned it down. She wanted me to write a novel about that marriage, what went wrong, what went right, then friendship, illness and death. But life doesn’t arrange itself conveniently into chapters, not mine anyway. You can’t just slice it neatly into segments. And I didn’t want to write a novel. My life didn’t feel like a novel. It felt like a million moments. I didn’t want to make anything fit together. I didn’t want to make anything up. I didn’t want it to make sense the way I understand a novel to make a kind of sense. I didn’t want anywhere to hide. I didn’t want to be able to duck. I wanted the shock of truth. I wanted moments that felt like body blows. I wanted moments of pure hilarity, connected to nothing that came before or after. I wanted it to feel like the way I’ve lived my life. And I wanted to tell the truth. My truth doesn’t travel in a straight line, it zigzags, detours, doubles back. Most truths I have to learn over and over again.

"My sister and I drank a lot of coffee and I would show her what I was writing and when she thought there was more going on than I’d gotten at, she insisted I look harder. She was pitiless. She knew me, she knew about my life. She knew the people I was writing about, and she knew how to corner me. She taught me that too much self-criticism makes for a narrow mind. She could put me in context, seeing me as part of the times we’d lived through, a perspective I didn’t have. I used our conversations verbatim. They provide a running commentary on the process of writing. My sister is smart and very funny. She still makes me laugh my head off."

And "What We Want" from Safekeeping:

"Once in a while we have a misunderstanding, my sister and I. You are snapping at me, one of us might say. You never let me finish a sentence, the other replies. You are always criticizing me, both of us think. Recently, we hung up on each other. Then we called each other right back and found the lines busy. She's taken her phone off the hook, we both thought angrily, but anger wasn't where we wanted to wind up. Once upon a time anger was the final destination, but not now. Then my phone rang and it was my sister. Hello, we both said. I'm sorry, we both said. Then we talked about it a little. Do you still want to take a walk? she asked me. Yes, I said, and started to cry. We met at the entrance to Riverside Park at 108th, our faces blotchy and pink. This is kind of embarrassing, I said, and we both laughed. We took our walk and bought ice-cream cones and had a good time.

"Because we are older now, and we know what we want."