Thursday, August 14, 2008

He Loves Books

     About a month ago I read a book review on Larry McMurtry's version of an autobiography. ( He is most famous for authoring the books "Terms of Endearment", "The Last Picture Show" etc. which were subsequently made into successful films and has co-authored many screenplays including "Brokeback Mountain" which won him an Academy Award, of course.) I can't remember the last time I read a review on an author's autobiography, in fact, this may be the only one I've encountered.
     I think what really struck a dissonant note with me about the piece was lack of understanding between two writers. Let me count the ways:
            1. The title speaks for itself so we don't have to wonder what it might contain.
            2. Instead of getting a glimpse of how Larry feels about his subject (i.e. books) we are given a character assassination over his reluctance to write about himself or his relationships to the point that he is accused of being bitter because someone (not necessarily himself) is supposedly jealous because others "have achieved more than he has."
            3. In the last two run-on sentences the reviewer, Ms Margolin, takes him to task for not illuminating his life for the reader with the same artistry as his fiction works. This ignores the fact that much of fiction contains a certain amount of fact about the writer. It may be a little or a lot, depending on how private the writer can be in any given situation.
     I, like Larry , tend to avoid revealing much of myself in my non-fiction writing almost to the point of reticence. Further, it is not a deliberate avoidance but more a professional tendency. My introspection is saved for my hand-written journals which are only written for and read by one person; myself.
     You see, writers traditionally are like this by nature. Most of us are not media journalists or moguls and our natural habitat is a library, bookstore or just a quiet place to write.
     I would be willing to bet that if we really want to know Mr. McMurtry a little more than what he revealed in his book, "Books : A Memoir", it may be best to go back and read one or more of the 28 novels he's written.
Twenty-eight kisses from The Castle Lady ! ! !  
He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor,
a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. - Dr. Isaac Barrow
( on a plaque at the Upper Montclair, N.J. public library )

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