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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
03

Tiny Beautiful Things

I probably mentioned back in the summer of 2017 that I was reading a book called Tiny Beautiful Things when my suitcase was stolen off of a plane. The book had me spellbound, such that I had to finish the final few pages before getting up. I was at the back of the plane and likely had some time before it was my turn anyway. Had I looked up, I would have seen someone taking my suitcase from the overhead bin and walking off with it. But I didn't look up. I couldn't.

And having now seen the play adapted from the book, I confess a similar sensation came over me, in that I couldn't look away. The neatest thing to me about the book is the letters that comprise it are real letters. Written by real people. So instead of just imagine Cheryl Strayed writing to these very real people who have written about very real, very personal, and in some cases very complex issues and questions, we now get to watch as someone portraying Strayed takes painstaking care to address each person who has written to her as the cherished, searching, and desperate souls they truly are. It's pretty powerful stuff, both the depths of character these letter-writers pull from as well as the boundless empathy that such a unique and textured life allows Strayed to pull from as well.

If the play comes to a theater anywhere near you, go see it. If it doesn't (or even if it does), read the book. You will be inspired. You will be bettered. You will need to keep an eye on your suitcase.

NOV
26

Cheryl Strayed in the Cleve

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In all the craziness of last week’s travels, I wasn’t able to mention that Cheryl Strayed was in town. Author of Wild, which I quite enjoyed. Sometimes it’s puzzling to think of an author speaking, because what exactly do they speak about? Their book? Everyone in attendance has read it. Their life? Everyone in attendance knows all about it because we’ve read the book.

Well Cheryl Strayed gave what I can only describe as the perfect remarks. She went into some background and additional detail on both her life and the book, and I could have listened for hours. Her thoughts on writing, particularly on writing memoirs, I found helpful and true, and it’s comforting to know she struggles with some of the same writerly things I do. Like balancing honesty with the part of you that doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Loved hearing about the person who had issue with how they were portrayed in Wild. Loved hearing how she responded, how it made her feel. Loved being in a theater full of people there to support her. Truly, it is the dream.

AUG
28

Wild

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I resisted reading this book. And I tried not to like it. I'm not sure why, I guess because I don't care about hiking. And once I started reading, I was somewhat less than sympathetic to the author's I've-made-a-mess-of-my-life plight. Because she HAD made a mess of her life. True that the redemptive theme of the book never really grabbed me, but the hiking, surprisingly, did.

Call me crazy, but the scene where she tries to load her backpack only AFTER she's flown to the west coast and is minutes away from actually beginning her journey was hilarious. Who wouldn't make sure everything fit beforehand?? And the frequent mention by other (male) hikers about her pack being much heavier than theirs just added to the hilarity. The hiking piece of the story...the piece about a girl who knows nothing about hiking taking on one of the most ambitious hikes possible (and solo!) was fascinating, that's just a fact. And I thought the author's use of flashbacks was good, too. (Although when you get to the one about the horse, skip over it if you are sensitive to sad animal stories.)

And as much as I tried not to let it, the end moved me. Not because the author had made up for her previous behavior, but she ends the story with a lovely sentiment about how even though it's impossible to know how things will turn out when we make a certain decision, it IS possible for them to work out even if we are at rock bottom; even when we haven't got a plan, a clue, or a dollar to our name. An inspiring message, no matter the source. Well done, Queen of the PCT.