Birthday Magic

I had a kind of magic that only happens on birthdays… the Gabriola friends of the library had a book sale at the community hall over the weekend. Imagine, a room filled to the brim with books for sale that I could peruse for hours.

( I am writing this a month behind… but what can I say? I was busy reading.)

It was a beautiful sunny day when we drove down to the south end of the island while enjoying the plethora of wild rose bushes that were lining the ditches. The first day I forgot my glasses but I was pleased to find out that they had a little container of reading glasses set out to use. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at the selection. Rick got some great building books, such as How to Build Shaker Furniture and Make Your Own Electric Guitar and the very popular Camping and Wilderness Survival book (2nd edition)  because you never know when you might need it, especially if there is an earthquake.

I myself was mainly stuck in the memoir section ( no surprise ) but when I wandered to other sections was pleased to find Emily Carr’s Book of Small and a copy of the screenplay for My Dinner With Andre.

One of my best finds was an old copy of Anne Tyler’s, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. I am pretty sure I read it years ago, but I have only a ghost of a memory of reading it. But this time, I couldn’t put it down. I was mesmerized as I lay next to my snoring husband late into the night with my neck kinked and my fingers chilled from clutching the tiny paperback with yellowing pages. This surprised me, because I have not been reading much fiction these days.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant appears innocent but will sideswipe you with the author’s complex portrait of each member of the Tull family.I was hooked right away when the story begins, “While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her.”  It is told from the different perspectives of each member of the family. Tyler is a master of writing about family in all of their misery and joy and ordinariness. Here is an excerpt from the ( good) son that impressed me: “How plotless real life was! In novels, events led up to something. In his mother’s diaries, they flitted past with no apparent direction.”

I loved this bit because this is how this novel was laid out, with no apparent direction.

Some of Tyler’s descriptions leapt off the page.  Such as his mother’s” small black pumps, seemed like quivering, delicate ultrasensitive organs.” Or ” She remembered the feel of the wind on summer nights— how it billows through the house and wafts the curtains and smells of tar and roses. How a sleeping baby weighs so heavily on your shoulder, like ripe fruit.”

Ah, I could read her words forever. I think I am going to forget about it again for another fifteen years and rediscover it again. I will have this blog post as a reminder.

Now before you go out hunting for this classic that was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize or ask to borrow my copy, I must warn you I love intimate portraits of regular families.

Actually as I was reading Homesick Restaurant, I was reminded of A Spool of Blue Thread which I also loved to pieces. It took me about thirty pages to put two and two together and realize it was the same author. It is interesting that I am drawn to her writing from 1982 equally as much as her writing from 2015 when A Spool of Blue Thread was published.

Thank you world for having a book sale for my birthday. And thank you for letting me find Anne Tyler’s classic novel again.

Want more magic?  My new favourite podcast is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast where she interviews authors. Sit back and enjoy listening to inspirational writing tips in an easy going conversational style. It is like eavesdropping on friend’s discussing their problems while Gilbert offers up wonderful advice.

This podcast stemmed from her non-fiction book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

See the link below:



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