A few weeks ago, Alice Munro won The Nobel Prize in Literature. It was a huge moment for literature, for Canada, and for friendship. The latter is true because over a decade ago, when my friends Deb and Dave Dunstone were in Canada, they bought an autographed copy of a volume of some of Munro’s short stories. It was autographed “from one author to another.” At that time, all I had “authored” were some essays and letters-to-the-editor. Still, that book and friendship remain an inspiration when I knuckle down to finish the sequel to Snoop. I think of Munro and the years she did the grit work of honing her craft. And I think of the Dunstones who believed long before I that I would write and sell books.
And then yesterday I heard that Fannie Flagg has a new book. I love Fannie Flagg. Her characters are quirky and her writing is sensitive toward and respectful of them. Mostly the people she creates are small town hicks, but they give all small town hicks a good name. They care about their friends, family, and community and see humor in small things as they experience the agonies and joys of life. Whenever I hear or see Flagg interviewed, I like her. She’s human and so are her stories, thoroughly human and alive. I remember reading a catty comment Rita Mae Brown made about a supposed relationship she had with Flagg and how she (Rita Mae) regretted that Flagg wasn’t ready to accept who she was. Sorry, Rita Mae, but I don’t buy it. I think Flagg merely wants as much respect for herself as she demands for the characters in her books. She doesn’t want her private life flying around in cyberspace. I look to Flagg for inspiration because she writes about the same Cannery Row types that I know from my small town experiences. I don’t judge them. I present them for others to fall in love with–or not. But I do respect them and their privacy.
I’m not a political conservative, but if I were still teaching essays, I would be using conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer as an example of how to write a thought-provoking essay with language that is both thrilling and alive. Yes, he is on the Fox News panel, but for all those who still fall for the old saw of dismissing Fox, I will add that Krauthammer is a Washington Post columnist, a Pulitzer Prize winner and as fair as anyone I follow regarding politics. His new book Things That Matter is a compilation of his essays and I am urging all my friends left and right to read it. If it doesn’t change their minds, and that’s not my intent, it will at least solder their reasons for why they hold the political views they hold. When you read Krauthammer’s story, you’ll see why he is one of my inspirations in all ways.
As sit in my basement in front of my new computer with the big screen monitor working on the book I want to have done by the first of the year, I think of my generous cadre of fellow authors at Cozy Cat Press out of Chicago. There are about thirty of us now dedicated to the cozy mystery genre. They are hard workers, many holding down full-time jobs, and love writing. Perhaps they don’t love the actual act of writing at all times, but they are grateful for their facility with words and idea and are eager to cheer on fellow writers. In the cut throat and frighteningly diminished world of publishing, I am grateful for the spirit that publisher Patricia Rockwell has woven throughout her little company. A Cozy Cat book promises to be a respite from the frantic holiday season and the stresses and strains of everyday life. In fact, I think they make fabulous stocking stuffers.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m now going to work to add another to Cozy Cat’s “cat”alogue.