Meantime, SLOW LOVE is beginning to be reviewed, and I must say it is a strange experience. This is my first time writing a book without having a magazine job to hide behind. I think this is also the book I am most deeply attached to, because writing it changed my life. I didn't know what it was going to be about when I started it; in fact, I didn't know that I would be writing a book at all. I was a wreck after I lost my job at House and Garden, and then I got caught up in the madness of selling my house and moving, so that I didn't write anything at all for months. Then I started gardening, up here in Rhode Island, as a way of making my peace with all the change--well, it wasn't even so deliberate. I started obsessively putting my hands in the earth, because it felt good, and necessary. I didn't want to live in a dust bowl. The next thing I knew, I was planting, and planning, and watering, and sitting and watching things grow. And the next thing I knew after that was that I started writing again. After I wrote an essay about the garden, I started writing about muffins, thinking I would write a book about women and food. Then I started writing about the long, ambivalent relationship I had been in, thinking I would write a book about women and love. Then I started writing about the pond I live on, thinking I would write about women and nature. Before too long, it was a book about everything that all women (men, too) face in the middle of life--how to live, where to live, who to live with, and what makes the days count for something.
I'm thrilled with the reviews in the Boston Globe and in The New York Times recently. Last week I gave a reading at the Boston Atheneum, which has to be one of the handsomest places in the country. It reminded me how much I love to read aloud, and how important that was to me as a child. I read to my children, of course, but then they wanted to do their own reading. Now I wish I had insisted on family reading aloud time--with everyone taking a turn. And shouldn't we keep on reading out loud as grown-ups, to one another? Especially because it makes us feel like cozy, well-loved children again...
My two sons and I did have a lovely tradition, which one of them named Reading Room. One of them would say, "Mom, let's have Reading Room", and we would gather in the living room or the kitchen and read quietly together; they would most likely be doing homework, and I would most likely be reading a novel. (The Wind in the Willows is one of my favorites, I'm reading again.) Reading together is a surprisingly intimate act. Have you ever noticed how two people can be lost in their books, sitting together in the same room; the hours can go by without a word spoken, but if one person gets up to leave the room, the other immediately says, "But where are you going?" as though they were leaving mid-sentence. And they are. It is just a sentence unspoken, but understood, and all the more moving in its silence.
Labels: intertidal years