Monday, May 23, 2011

The Very Best Stories...

So good. I know I am not supposed to review the books I read for From Left to Write, but in this case, I cannot help but gush. Read Christine Watson’s Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. I’m not going to tell you anything else. Just read it. Neither the author nor the publishing company paid me to say this, however, I did receive the book gratis because I participate in the coolest online book club in the world. And, no, the book club did not pay me to say that either. What follows is a post inspired by the book. You can read other posts inspired by the book right here.

It is my hope and fear that one day Sophia will read my blog. My hope, because it is the story of her life, carefully and closely examined, lovingly told. Perhaps it will help her to know herself better one day, to understand how she came to be who she is. True, it is not her narrative, it is mine, but I believe that insight can be born of an outside perspective. If it offers her any wisdom, any pleasure, it will have been worth it. Of course, a person is more than the sum of her stories. A person is ineffable, defying description. I have only captured a flavor of her. My writing of her life will always be inadequate.

A person is like a book, part what is there and part the perception of others. We are our stories. And we are so much more.

I try to imagine having such a complex and complete literary portrait of my life and I cannot. Children of this generation are better recorded (both photographically and narratively) than any previous generation. I realize that this could have unintended consequences. Consequences beyond my imagining. She has had no control over this information. She may be hurt by it. She may resent it. She may despise me for it.

And so, I also fear that she will read my blog. I joke that, one day, she will start a rival blog, Life with Melissa: An Expose of How I was Parented. If she does, I will embrace whatever she writes, as long as it is her truth. Already, she has begun to tell stories. They are facsimiles of the stories I tell her, but increasingly, they are hers. They are expressions of her experience. Her attempts to entertain me and inform me: this is what I value; this is who I am; this is how I see you; this is how I want you to see me.

Christine Watson writes, “The very best stories are told to a daughter.”

Yes, Christine, I agree. And, I might deign to add, the stories a daughter tells her mother have a magic all their own.

Because I want to pass this book on--it is too good to keep to myself--I’m going to try something new. I’d like to do a random drawing. If you leave a comment and some way for me to get in touch with you (because I’m not technologically advanced enough to figure out who you are without it), I’ll put your names in a hat, pick one out, and send you the book. It’s in really good condition, except for a tear stain or two.


Emily said...

I talked about telling stories too in my post, except I was reminding of Blessing’s Grandma’s story telling and that of my own Grandma. And like Blessing, I treasure the stories told to me and try to keep them alive for my son, through my own voice and through my blog.

BY THE WAY, no need to pick out of a hat. Go to List your numbers, ex. 1-14, and let the site pick a number for you, like it says, totally random.

I used to do the hat thing too!

Christie said...

How lovely! And I agree the stories from my daughters are magic. Sometimes my daughter asks for my made up stories instead of a picture book - and they have to feature her as a mermaid or as a princess. But the other day she asked me to read from Tiny Sunbirds. And I did. And she said 'oh mummy, you wrote a whole book about me' and I laughed, but afterwards I though, you know what? She's totally right. Many thanks for reading Tiny Sunbirds!