Sometimes the Best Books Are Hard to Live With
It is, I think, impossible to read a book like Mudbound and not say something about it to as many people as humanly possible. Even though I couldn't talk for a long time after I finished it, and not just because I was sobbing. There was also the anger. At the friend who recommended it. At the other friend who didn't warn me strongly enough. At the author for subjecting me to it.
At the knowledge that so much of it was so very far from fiction.
I don't usually contact writers. Oh, sure, there was that impulsive little email to Rick Reilly, formerly of Sports Illustrated, currently of ESPN. (I think.) He used to write a column on the last page of SI that pretended to be about sports but was really about the human condition, about the best, most generous parts of ourselves. I would take my husband's issue, skip over pictures of basketball players in improbable flight or women in impossibly small swimsuits, flip to the back, and read. And get choked up. Eventually, I wrote to Mr. Reilly to tell him that this feminist, vegetarian, mother, lawyer, writer, girly-girl non-sports reader bought her own fricking subscription when her husband's expired, just so she could read his column.
And then there was the comment for Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh, left on his mind-blowing blog Koreanish. A small note to say I'm still haunted by Fee. (I will never forget Fee's observation that the survivor gets to tell the story. It was the first time I was forced to consider whether it's a good thing to get to tell the story.)