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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.

MAY
20

A Thousand Splendid Suns

There's always a bit of shame for a bookish, English-degree-holding writer in books she probably should have read but hasn't. For me, most of this gets wrapped up in the classics...books I should have read in high school or college but didn't. Not out of neglect, just out of necessity really. If a teacher assigned The Scarlet Letter over The Grapes of Wrath, then the former is what got read. If a professor preferred As I Lay Dying to Lord of the Flies, then that's what I stayed up all night reading.

Bottom line: there are some definite holes in my literary repertoire. 

Books in more recent history don't make me feel as much guilt over having never read, and while I read The Kite Runner when it was new and on everyone's radar, it didn't bowl me over such that I felt a burning need to read A Thousand Splendid Suns when it followed a few years later. I don't even remember hearing a thing about it. And why was this? Why did no one tell me I had to read it? It's no one's responsibility, yet somehow I feel slighted. Unprepared. Ill-fitted for the world.

I know a play based on a book is totally cheating. I know I have still never read this book. And I know now that it was a mistake not to. Because the Old Globe's theatrical adaption of this book was riveting. It bowled me over--with feeling, with intensity, with injustice, and ultimately with the depiction of the bonds that are possible between women. To know there are such books in the world that remain unread fills me with a panic I can't quite describe. If you know of any, tell me. Tell the world. And then go find more.