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WANTED: A Good (Woman?) Writer For A Book I Want To Read

Here's a book concept, free of charge, that IMHO needs the creative mind of an outstanding writer to turn it into a best-seller:

"Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant in New York City in the early 1900s. She was by all accounts a talented cook. But Mallon also was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. After she infected more than 20 people, with one dying, she was isolated in a hospital for nearly three years. Officials didn't know what to do with her, so she was given a second chance. Mallon, who likely never believed health officials who said she was infected, went back to cooking. Two more people died. This time, Typhoid Mary, as she became known, was given what amounted to a life sentence. She lived out her days — 23 years — isolated in a one-room cottage on an island in the East River."

Potentially great first-person narrative in here, with potentially powerful feminist/humanist symbolism based on Ms. Mallon's 23-year solitary confinement-- essentially, with only her own mind, memory & imagination as company.

Various "approaches" leap to mind: a focus on the strength (or even the self-affirming, undeniably humanistic trait of stubborness) that seem intrinsic to the character (both in her own self-denial of the authoritarian diagnosis which she rejected, and in her ability to survive two-decades-plus of virtual isolation); a poignant tale of what she lost (or perhaps what she found) through her enforced "quarantine"; the richly imagined fantasy lives "lived" during the confinement (perhaps a la Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun)... and those are just a few of the possibilities.

It may be merely my Sunday-morning musings here, but IMHO there's literary gold to be mined in this story... and while I think it might be best suited to be penned by one (or more) of the strong & talented women writers among our Redroom membership, there might be an intriguing challenge here to our male writers in crossing the gender line.

But in any event, it's a book I'd like to read... and one I'm pretty sure I'm not competent to write myself. (grin) And done well, it has all the makings of a sure-fire NYT bestseller.

--Earl "The Gift-Giver" Merkel

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Big Ideas

Hi Earl,

I laughed when I read your post, not because the idea was bad but because I often have ideas for stories but don't feel I am really the right writer for them.  As far as I can tell, no matter who tells Typhoid Mary's story, it will always be interesting and compelling. Plenty of men have crossed the gender line to tell the story of a particular woman, so why don't you take a whack at it? 

I have an idea about a man who lived in my local area and became hugely prominent, but I get stuck thinking that since he was a male and I'm not, I couldn't get into his head either. It keeps turning into an enormous project in my mind's eye, so I put it aside again and again.  

Mary has a grip on you and this guy has a grip on me.  Maybe the universe is not to be ignored in both cases?  



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Me? I've Lost MY Grip...

(chuckle) You fiendish minx, you! I know what's going on here, Christine: you're using me to energize yourself to write that book you're pondering.

Uh-huh... well, such writer-pacts ("you write this, and I'll write that!") are a perilous slippery slope: should simultaneous writer's block occur, the next thing that happens is we'll be collaborating in a suicide pact... and arguing about the wording of the note.

In my own case, I'll just quote my uncle, Clint Eastwood: "A man's gotta know his limitations." While I've done books from a first-person female POV (see my Virgins And Martyrs; Aria Quynn had a definite grip on me for it), I just don't feel Typhoid Mary is in my psyche (at least, not today). It's not just my usual procrastination about starting on a new book; trust me, I know that feeling, and this is different.

But the evidence appears different for you: you're apparently contemplating your project seriously, and I'd bet you're just looking for a compelling reason to start writing.

So, in the interest of literary bro-'n-sis -hood, I'll play along.

To wit: Christine, write your book. Or I'll track you down and shoot you. I'm serious: I'm scratching your name on a bullet as I type this. Get to work, now.

(grin) You're quite welcome. And I look forward to your restraing order.

--Earl "The Motivator" Merkel