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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

East Comes West

I expect to see a number of my East Coast friends shortly. Lots of poetry, music and drama in the week ahead! Now if we can just get the weather to cooperate. It's been behaving like East Coast weather, with snow on the mountain and fifteen-degrees-below-normal daily highs ("Chill out" -- not so nice an expression this week).

I've been reading Alison Lurie's nonfiction book Boys and Girls Forever. It sent me back to some of my childhood's most delightful moments. Lurie writes about the forces that may have compelled authors to write children's books, from Louisa May Alcott to J.K. Rowling to Salman Rushdie (yes, that guy. He wrote a kid's book). It interested me that Lurie ascribes disruptions in childhood happiness to the drive to write children's stories. She says in her foreword:

"It often seems that the most gifted authors of books for children are not like other writers: instead, in some essential way, they are children themselves. There may be outward signs of this condition: these people may prefer the company of girls and boys to that of adults; they read children's books and play children's games and like to dress up and pretend to be someone else. They are impulsive, dreamy, imaginative, unpredictable."

But doesn't that describe every writer? And don't about 98.999% of writers have unhappy childhoods? I'd like to see a book about writers with happy childhoods. Now there would be a surprising thesis: that childhood happiness drives art. Could happen!