|Sydney Carton climbing the scaffold in 'A Tale of Two Cities.'|
The question for me this week was: when you read do you send the author a note? Why or why not?
I'll be honest with you. I don't stay with a book I don't care for. I've heard a writer can learn from reading a poorly written book. My reaction to that truthfully is I'm not interested. I would prefer to read some passages perhaps in order to learn what not to do, but I'm afraid that doesn't include reading the entire book. I mean I'd go off the deep end at some point. I'd not want to pick it up, etc.
With regard to wanting to 'write a note to an author' I'd choose to do this for the most positive of reasons.
A book comes to mind immediately that would warrant such a note. The note would concern one of the most unforgettable characters in the magnificent A Tale of Two Cities. Now, I'd have very much wanted to dash off a note to Charles Dickens about this book, particulary with regard to the character, Sydney Carton!
To have a man choose to die in another's place for the love of a woman, is profound!
Carton, a careless. bored man who cares about nothing happens to fall deeply in love with a young woman. The only problem is she is deeply in love already with a goodly man who happens to be an aristocrat in 18th Century France!
Written against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this is a tale indeed of two cities: Paris and London. But it is in Paris where our tale ends. It is in this great city that Dickens brings us face to face with Mme. Guillotine and the impending death of Mr. Carton.
I first read this in high school and have re-read it many times over the years. I wish I could have told Dickens how greatly it affected me. How I was never able to forget it.
So you see for me to feel I'd like to type a note (my handwriting is the pits) to an author means I'm reading a very special book. A book that has gripped me and affected me greatly, a book that is indeed talking to me--telling me things, perhaps even changing my values or at the very least if not changing them completely, making me think in ways I never thought before!
When reading Susan Hill, Daphne DuMaurier, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte or Anne Rice to name a few--I have found myself wishing I could tell them how much I was enjoying their stories.
To Anne Rice I'd say, oh Miss Rice! Thank you for writing thought-provoking horror. Horror that depends on a story and finely drawn characters for its power. Thank you for not writing about a giant slug that might have eaten all of Hoboken!
I want to read what I love. I want to savor the prose, feel the setting. I want to experience the story and the characters. I want to feel something. I want it to be worthwhile.
When reading Stephen King's Pet Sematary I fully understood the fear King must have had (in fact I read he was fearful) of one of his children being hit by a truck. I felt that fear and empathized completely.
With regard to that novel, who hasn't wished they could bring back someone they loved from death? Surely it is a fantasy we all share, short of actually plunging into some sort of hideous rite!
I'd say of course I'd love to write to tell the author of a book that has gripped me and affected me how very much I've enoyed it.
I think mainly I would say to each of the authors whose books I have enjoyed: thank you for writing this story, it's enriched my life. It's given me a greater understanding of humanity, of God, of love of all things that are worth thinking about. Yes, dear author! Thank you, indeed!