The Prompter Room

For Thursday, July 14, 2016:

“No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.”

E. B. White

It’s been a long while since I’ve been here – a month from my last post that thanked you all for your patience, and probably another month since I posted anything of substance.  It’s been so long that my stats page flickered while it was trying to load, probably because it had to go back so far!

While there are still many and myriad medical things going on, there are now some down times and I’ve felt words coming back a few at a time, so I thought I’d make a stab at some brainwork and ease back into my blog.  It probably won’t be every day, but I hope it’ll be a lot more frequent than the past couple of months.  Again, thank you for your patience.

One of the goals I set for myself during this somewhat-enforced hiatus was to read books that really stretched me in some way.  The book I finished a few days did just that.  When I saw A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin on the library shelf, I grabbed it because I’d read Canin’s earliest couple of books and was very impressed.  When I read the inside of the book jacket, however, I almost put it back on the shelf.  This was a thick novel about a mathematician.  I opened it and glanced through some of the pages.  To my dismay, though not surprisingly, there  were mathematicians’ names, formulae and concepts that made my eyes glaze over – and that was just from a quick glance.

To understand my dismay, you have to know that I almost didn’t graduate from high school because of my abysmal math grades.  I found out decades later that I have dyscalcula (I think that’s the right term), the equivalent of dyslexia with numbers and figures.  At the time, though, all I knew was that I had to promise not to enroll in any college classes that required math.

As I lifted the book back to its shelf, I reminded myself of my goal … so, against my better judgment, I took it over to the check-out desk.  I figured I could always take it back to the library if it gave me headaches.

Well, far from it.  It didn’t take long before I was entranced – entranced! – by the storyline, by the writing style, by everything I was learning.  Yes, some of it was over my head, but only a little.  I was surprised at how much I understood.  Most of all, I was amazed at Canin’s gift of writing about such a dense subject and his complicated character in such a way that actually compelled this reader, at least, through to the last page.

Canin obviously doesn’t distrust his readers’ intelligence.  He had a story to tell and he did so in such a way that encouraged growth rather than going for the lowest common denominator.  And he made it a good book at the same time.

I’m glad I decided to stretch myself.  I think this is probably what has enabled a few words to flow ever since.

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2 thoughts on “The Prompter Room

  1. Genie, I believe we all need inspiration from without. For me, it’s in nature. But I’m also never without a book or six(!) Right now I’m loading library audiobooks onto my phone app like never before – and it’s a true delight. I’m not one for radio, and music distracts me. I usually ride or work in silence. Now I have someone telling me stories! My latest find is Kevin Kwan – his book Crazy Rich Asians was my first, now listening to China Rich Girlfriend. My whole life, I never allowed myself to delve into fiction until somewhat recently – probably 4-5 years ago at most. I dearly love a good storyteller, especially one who can WRITE! (Imagine that!) So welcome back, inspiration is a fabulous thing.

    On another note (and please never accuse a Gemini of being anything but long-winded), you know I possess what is termed second sight. I don’t make a big deal of it, truly. But I preface what I’m about to say with it, because: years ago (probably 25 or so), I was on the island of Molokai where I did spontaneously receive some pretty startling ‘revelations.’ One of these was to glimpse, for a brief second or six, how the universe is ‘wired.’ And it’s all in numbers! It was like the Matrix, like a code, and for that very brief time, I understood it. Then I forgot, as I do, because I figure sacred things are meant to be – well – sacred. If I needed something from it at another time, I trusted then and trust now it will be revealed. Anyhow, I suspect this is what Einstein and other mathematicians saw for themselves – this amazing constellation of numbers, swirling, free form, in their own orbit-less orbit.

    I never hated math, in fact got good grades, but I was already disparaged by my peers as ‘a brain’ and minimized my non-girly pursuits. I wish now I had had the courage to pursue them. After having Martha Vanderwolk for a prof at VC, I wished it double. But all wishes pass, at least for me, and I’m content. I dearly wish the same for you, dear friend! Aloha! ❤

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  2. Genie, I’m so impressed that you took on such a challenge! You make me want to read that book. All best wishes in your return to your blog. I know I’ve missed it and will wait patiently as you progress. Thank you!

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