Authors Ray Bradbury and Mary Karr first met on the pages of my Book Lover’s Journal. Of course, I don’t know if this statement is true or not. In reality they may have met at an authors’ awards dinner. Or not. In my reality, they share a back-to-back page, cozying up between the the illustrations, Woodcut from Seikichiro Goto’s Journey of Paper and Gutenberg Taking the First Proof, an engraving published in 1869. I think it is providential that these two authors take up the first two entries in my journal because both (one in writing, one in living) show the profound impact that books have on our lives. Books are a salvation of sorts (and though I don’t mean that in any theological way, I cannot write the statement without acknowledging that it is no accident that Jesus is called the Word Made Flesh). I read these books at a discombobulated time in my life (the boxes have advanced indoors, if you read my last blog) and so reading has been a solace, a salvation.
Here, thanks to the dear friend who gave me my journal for my birthday, I share my entries, and please keep in mind that these are mere entries – the thoughts I scribbled down after I read the books – no in-depth analysis. I’m beginning with Bradbury although I actually read Karr’s book first. As you will read, if the world existed as Bradbury envisioned it, there would have been no Karr.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In an interview in the back of the 50th Anniversary Edition which I read, Bradbury states, “The library is our brain. Without the library, you have no civilization.” His book is a tale of a world without libraries, and what happens when books become enemies, when firemen are those who start fires, specifically fires to burn books and those who read them. Guy Montag is one of these firemen, but when he meets his strange 17-year-old neighbor, Clarisse, his life (i.e., view of books and their place in the world) changes. Though taunted by his boss, Fire Chief Beatty, he makes a brave decision with the help of a timid former professor, Faber. Bradbury is all about metaphor. He speaks of this on his website: raybradbury.com, which also includes a lovely tribute to his wife of 56 years. Ironically (or perhaps purposefully) she is the polar opposite of Montag’s wife.
The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
I discovered this book while reading Margie Haack’s review of another Karr book. “I thought you wouldn’t like me anymore,” Karr’s mother says on page 318 – just three pages from the end of the book. But that statement is really the crux of the entire book and the early life of the author. Karr writes of her family’s life in Texas in crude and graphic, yet very story-friendly and humorous ways. Much of her Texas lingo is familiar to me; e.g., she talks about her mother making “chow-chow.” Her language and her experiences made me wonder what my Texas-born psyche nurse mother-in-law would think about her life. In a couple of places, the book is painfully graphic, and in one particular scene I found myself holding my eight-year-old and thinking how unconscionable it would be to have her experience what Karr did at that age. In summary, this is a gritty but great read and does end with hope. I want to read her other books.