Just recently, I mentioned a book recommendation to Jeff, a truly talented writer and blogger, the other day and it's been years since I read it myself so I'm going to open my own copy again once I'm finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road (which I'm trying to read before catching the film).
I found Jeff through another talented writer-slash-blogger, Brian, and the book I recommended was Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall On Your Knees.
I first discovered Ms. MacDonald via her brilliant play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). Its theme and wit is reminiscent of Sir Tom Stoppard's masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead.
The recommendation got me thinking about Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which, if you haven't read it, becomes another recommendation so that you'll understand this post. Because, even though I'm an Honours English major and was required to read most all the classics out there from Dickens to both Brontë sisters to Austen and Dosteyevsky to Hemingway and James to Faulkner, the one book I would choose to memorize and recite to people were we all existing in some post-apocalyptic, Big Brother nightmare of a world that banned books, is MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. I think it's because MacDonald speaks to the actor in me - she's an actor herself, and a playwright and author, and her writing in this novel has such a lyric quality to it, it works well aloud, for recitation.
Don't get me wrong, it's not as though I haven't read enough out there by now (and in my own opinion, I actually haven't). I've read plenty, though. I LOVE books and this one's a toughie. If I had my way, every wall in my house would be shelves of 'em and it is damned difficult to choose. For instance, this is assuming that by the time I got around to choosing other favs of mine like Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, or J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, a special gift given me that I'm ashamed to say I first read when I was already 25, or John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany (which I'm re-reading but have placed on the backburner briefly while I digest The Road mentioned above) or Tolkien's The Hobbit, anything by Enid Blyton or Wayne Johnston or the brilliant Alice Munro or Michael Ondaatje or the wordsmith Mark Helprin, such as his Winter's Tale or his short story collection, The Pacific, that these masterpieces of fiction ('kay, admittedly, Irving and Blyton are included for added fun) would already have been snapped up by someone else out there for mind storage.
And recognizing there are other books a bit more obscure that might be, perhaps, still up for grabs, like Daniel Handler's Adverbs which was recommended to me a few years back, or Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son (another gift) or Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry, or Chet Raymo's gem, The Dork of Cork; I'm telling you, it's really difficult to choose just ONE.
Anyhow, you get the gist. There are innumerable books I've enjoyed maybe equally as much or more, perhaps. But Fall On Your Knees is the story I'd want to tell people. I'm not going to give away anything to do with the plot or characters, except to say that I relate in so many ways to Frances that I cannot begin to name them all here. She was my very favourite of all the Piper daughters and spoke to my own kooky soul the deepest, the most, the best. Every author and book I mentioned above inspires my own voice, my writing, in some way.
So, here's a question for you: what would be your "451"? Which book would you choose to memorize so that future generations would hear the tale and not miss out? It's a hard one, I know, but if you had to choose just ONE book, what would it be?
(Really, I just want people to recommend some yummy stuff back to me so I'm not missing out on anything! As Ti, another inspiring writer/blogger, so eloquently puts it in her latest post, "bring it", people. )
Happy reading, everyone!
p.s. If I bump into you and you're reciting Catcher in the Rye or, say, Wuthering Heights, just, um...be prepared that I might fall in love with you. Fair warning.
Music: Wrapped Up in Books, Belle & Sebastian
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