where the writers are
The kindness of strangers

(Cross-posted with TaniaWrites)

I'm pretty sure I've said this before but no harm in repeating myself: I am sometimes just bowled over at how kind and generous people are, especially those who don't know me, have never met me. The last few days has really brought this to the fore: people offering me all sorts of things, from places to stay (London, Bulgaria!) to books to ayuverdic tea. I wanted to say a public thank you, to put a little bit of that karma back out there, to pass it on. It always means a lot, but it is especially meaningful when I am feeling low. To mention one particular example, the wonderful writer and blogger Anne Brooke suggested to her university book group that they discuss The White Road and Other Stories. Because it was out of stock for several weeks in the UK over Christmas, only Anne had a copy and she was a little concerned about how the discussion might work. I was intrigued, curious, wondering what was going to happen. Well, the group met on Monday night and Anne reported back to me that all went very well. She said (and wrote on her blog):

"We had a great discussion - even the man who didn't like short stories, science or magic realism said it made him think and widened his reading horizons. ... Those of them who didn't manage to get hold of the book are now going to do so and read it, and they're more open to looking at short stories again because of it so a great success."

I was extremely moved that someone who initially didn't seem as though he would like anything at all about my book might actually now feel differently. What more can a writer ask for from a reader? Thank you so much, Anne, for bringing it to your group, it means so much to me. Not to go on about it, and only because I don't really have anything else to do, but I am at number 89 on Amazon UK's 100 bestselling short stories list...It gives me a little thrill for an hour, at least, until I fall off the list again :) I was lent a book this week (thanks, H!) which I read cover to cover last night. How to describe The Principles of Uncertainty by writer and illustrater Maira Kalman? An illustrated memoir/philosophical treatise/ wondrous document? Here is an example: The book is the collection of a series of illustrated blog posts published in the New York Times in 2006 and 2007. It is moving, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, amusing, entertaining, quirky, personal and universal. She talks about creativity, about art, about life, people, war, peace, honey cake, uncertainty, Paris and hats. She shows us life through her canvas, her words, her camera. I am going to get myself a copy, I feel that this is a book I will need around, will want to keep reading. This is what friends are for: to lend friends the books they think they need to read. So, this is my recommendation today. Visit Maira's site, or just go and buy the book.