Last week I saw Scibona's book highlighted on this blog and I promptly wrote it down in my notebook where I keep a book list of must reads. Of course I entered the contest, too. I felt a little embarrassed when I was done because I wrote more of a blog post than a contest entry. Here it is:
"A friend of mine recently told me how she was sharing a bench outside a grand church with another good friend when they started talking about what they'd say if Jesus suddenly appeared. My friend was quiet for a moment and then said, "Pick me, pick me." We talked about how hard it is to live any other kind of life other than one where we want to be first. Rather fitting for this contest, no?
When I first read the question I thought I needed to pick someone like Flannery O'Connor and try to impress the heck out of you Salvatore. Someone else had recommended your book just last week and I promptly put it in my notebook where I keep a list of books I want to read. But the sad fact is, other than reading her collection of letters called The Habit Of Being, I haven't read one single thing by Flannery O'Connor.
This past winter my adult daughter wrote and produced a one act play based on warped messages I gave her about sexuality due to my own story of childhood sexual abuse. While she was writing the play she was reading My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. She mentioned in her play notes that she felt like she'd gone through her own crucifixion while writing the play. Watching the play made me feel like I was going through my own. Not long afterwards I saw a copy of Potok's book in a thrift store. Wondering (and scared to know)what the crucifixion was that my daughter had gone through while writing her play I bought the book and read it. The best fiction reveals myself to me. Sometimes it feels like a slap in the face and sometimes it's gentle yet persistent. I often think of the mother in Potok's book and pray that I will stop waiting at a window. People can speak the truth to one another all they want and it often falls on deaf ears. Fiction, at its best, speaks truth but gives one enough distance to really hear it. It was as if I could hear the voices of my adult children trying to talk to me while reading My Name Is Asher Lev. That book, and so it's author, will always hold a place in my heart for its part in my ongoing transformation. Transformation that is both painful and welcome."
I've been reading the comments over there and here is the one I hope wins the book. I have no idea if it's okay to quote the comment right here or not so apologies if I'm breaking the rules.
September 8th, 2008 at 3:23 pm
My favorite Author is my eleven year old son, John. He fills five cent Wal Mart one subject notebooks with the most beautiful, inspiring prose I have ever read. Everything is from a perspective of a bright child soaking in the world around him and laying it out in the way only a child could. It is honest, it is painful, it is joyous and when I read it sometimes it overwhelms me with the pride and sadness that goes along with being a mother.
He has written about the pain of watching his Aunt die of Breast cancer at 40 and of his other beloved Aunt going to fight in Iraq. He describes in glee of his favorite prank, which is to soak Mom by wrapping elastics around the sink sprayer so when the faucet turns on, the user gets soaked. His frustrations with his world are so valid and seem so painful at times, but they never are bigger than the things he writes about that make his life wonderful. His description of a summer day that I let him play outside until well after dark with his best friend Jake made me fell as if I was running barefoot with the boys, teasing their sisters, their brown legs carrying them from tree branch to the corner store for a freeze pop. It is honesty, it is love, it is confusion and glee all on paper and nothing beats it."
I thought that comment showed a mother's beautiful heart.