Did I choose sunshine, or a book, or both? I chose the book. Finally I began, night before last, reading the follow-up to Chocolat by Joanne Harris, which is now actually the second in a trilogy. It's called The Girl With No Shadow in the U.S., but was originally published as The Lollipop Shoes. I read a little Monday night and last night, and this afternoon I read for two hours and finished it.
Joanne Harris is one of my inspirations, along with Louise Penny and Alice Hoffman. Harris's books are full of flavors and seasons and stories that sound ancient even though she made them all up.
The writing is in my head. The prose, truly, it is. But not the stories. That is, I think we all have stories in our heads but mine are locked up extra tightly; hidden behind the words instead of being allowed to come out through them. I've searched for the key to unlock them for nearly a decade, and I won't give up until I've found it. But so far, I don't think I'm very good at looking. Looking for the door to my stories feels a lot like painting an owl face on a stone in third grade, so that it looked like a smeared half-smile on a dull surface while every other girl seemed to have produced a recognizable bird, or throwing a softball in sixth grade so the teacher could loudly measure how far it did not go.
I've collected incidents and impressions and lots and lots of pathos over the years, but there is little interaction, no action at all, and certainly no resolution. Still, I observe, and think, and arrange my thoughts in little short bursts of humor or philosophy. And I read.
In the summer, I read two hour books of nicely crafted romance or cozy mystery. But in the autumn I turn my attention to carefully laid out dramas that unfold more slowly and are designed to envelop you with richness. It's like food, really. When it's hot out, I eat tomatoes straight from the garden, and berries, and whatever else is easy and at hand. It's mostly all sweet and light. Then as the sunlight sharpens and the air cools, my taste in food deepens along with my taste in books.
I love summer, but I want to write autumn.
Well, right now I want to read the third book in this series, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. The title confused me at first, because in the U.S. it is called Peaches for Father Francis. I knew who Monsieur le Curé was, but who on earth was Father Francis? And then I realized the U.S. publisher had done that thing they do; talk down to their readers, though, as readers, that is the last thing we should be made to endure...
Anyway, and then there will be a new, but old, thing that I must do next.