This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cabbages and Kings

In college, the newspaper columnist and author Regina Brett came to talk to one of my writing classes. Of course, somebody asked why she'd become a writer, and she said that she decided she wanted to be a writer when she was  little kid and read "Harriet the Spy."
That was kind of crazy, because I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was a little kid and read "Harriet the Spy." I finished that book, and the next day I ran to Norwood Drug to buy a speckled composition book just like Harriet had. Now Harriet had a spying route she'd do every day. She climbed onto roofs and spied on people through their skylights, hung around out back of the grocery store, even climbed in some lady's dumbwaiter. I was too chicken to do much spying, plus I didn't even know anyone who had a dumbwaiter. But I wrote. And that has made all the difference.

I've heard other people credit Harriet with their own decision to become writers, including Winona Ryder's character in Mr. Deeds. Louise Fitzhugh was just writing a children's book, like she'd been doing for years and would do for many years more. If Fitzhugh's little bit of kids' fiction had such a profound influence on New York Times bestselling authors like Brett, and wannabe bloggers like me, how far and deep do the breezes from her butterfly sneezes go? How far do mine? Yours? 
So I'm curious, faithful readers. What book has had the most profound impact on your life?


N said...

I think I've already shown this to you, but I mention in [url=] this interview[/url] why I started writing.

I love words. Even to the point where I don't give a damn if they're being used. It's kind of like enjoying individual Lego blocks because you know that you can make nifty things out of them. That and if my imagination were to have settings, it'd be like in a Starbucks where they all mean "a lot."

Regarding how far-reaching my paltry collection of work is, a Google search for my name turns up 3-4 hits on the first couple of pages. I do wonder if anybody has gotten anything out those few stories.

I'm not sure which book I'd say had the "most profound impact" on my life. I could list favorites, but that's not really the same thing.

Anthony said...

Well, that sent me into an ugly spiral. I tried to think of a book that had an impact on my actions or ambitions, and had to look directly at the fact that I don't actually take actions or have ambitions. Nasty thing, self-awareness.

If I have any answer, it's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When I first read it I must have been in first or second grade, and it opened my eyes. Up until then I had thought that humor was basically made up of fart noises or poorly-constructed jokes beginning in "knock, knock." In Hitchhiker I saw what real comedy could be like, and it served as a foundation for what my sense of humor would eventually become. (Saying that might be slandering the late great Douglas Adams, actually.)

Anyway, since I don't really do much besides eat, drink, and make fun of things - and I was probably going to eat and drink anyway - I'd say it had a far-reaching impact.

Anonymous said...

Here's the funny thing, I didn't really get my love for recreational reading until college. I think being forced to read so many books in school that I hated (most of them) I started to get the idea that reading wasn't my cup of tea. Since I decided to take the plunge and read the LOTR trilogy I'd say that almost every book since had a pretty profound impact in my life.

Reading any book ends up being a time investment since I have little time to read, a short novel could take months. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and say pick a favorite... I'd be dead. But, recently I would have to put the Hitchhiker's Guide in my top ten, I would have to agree with your friend. Even if in the end it only gives me a response to any question I don't know the answer to... 42.

Anonymous said...

Ramona Quimby Age 8, R. T. Margaret and the Rats of Nimh. << from 4th grade, the grade my family moved permanently home to Ohio, and I was actually encouraged to read and write. Later in middle/high school I liked Cat's Eye and Catcher in the Rye and Adrift... I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed the story of a man adrift at sea... thanks to honors english classes and required summer reading.