I love A Man Called Ove. He is my hero. I am twenty-two pages from the end of his story, and I cannot bear the thought of pulling up the covers, and calling it a night.
I plan to write a note to my son, on the dedication page…For You. I plan to send the book to him with a sticky note attached.
The note will read as follows:
Read this. Slowly. Inch your way through. Pause after a paragraph. Stop for the similes. Hesitate with each sigh. Do not miss a syllable, nor skim a page. Take days or weeks, but devour it as you would a favorite meal, with gusto, yet with restraint, lingering over the final chew and swallow, the signal that texts, you are sated and complete.
Then send it to your father. Pass along a message, too. How to read it. Why he should. Why you did. Send it with a message of love, from a son who knows that it is not what we say, but what we do that matters.
Then, your father, following your explicit instructions, in a reversal of roles, will read A Man Called Ove, slowly and tenderly, as a gift from you, received only to be passed along, to his eldest son, completing the familial circle of fathers and sons.
The father will say to his oldest, this, this is my gift to you. Read it and weep. Read it and chuckle. Find yourself, your brother, your mother and I, on its pages.
Men of few words are often men of great deeds.
However, occasionally, men being men, lack the female gene dictating that some words must be said, that time and unexpected events may rob us of the chance to say I love you, until it is too late.
I love A Man Called Ove.
Most of all share it with someone that you love.
There is A Man Called Ove in all of our lives.
Tell him. Tell him he matters, not so much for what he says, but for what he does, each and every single day.
We, the women, will help fill in where the words should be.
But for now, I must leave you, as A Man Called Ove is waiting to tell me the end of his story, while I am sitting here barely able to let him go.
One final suggestion. I know, I know, I know that you my readers love great prose. I hold in my hands, your sweet letters of encouragement, as I began my own journey telling tales. Tell them. Tell the authors who wrestle with your heart. The ones who soothe your soul. The ones who make you laugh out loud. The ones who hold you so tightly against their chest, that you wonder if they are peeking over your shoulder watching your life unfold with such familiarity, that the goosebumps travel down your spine.
Tell them in a comment section on Amazon. Send them an email. Or for maximum benefit, write them a note. You know the Mother Told Me Rule…Thank you notes via Snail Mail are the clincher.
In this world where there sometimes seems to be nothing good, nothing warranting hope or comfort, there remain great writers waiting to fill your heart and your head with the greatest comfort food on the table. Stories of courage, loss, redemption and the sweetest treat of all, hope.
Dear Fredrik Backman….
A Sincere and Grateful Fan
Monday, September 12, 2016
I started to read at a very young age. The backs of cereal boxes. The entire cupboard where my brothers kept their hoard of Dell Comic Books, stacked high, three shelves deep. The oldies but goodies, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.
Literature for the Young, suffered a dearth of supply, when I was the age of ten. By Middle School, a rare Middle School, I submerged myself in Profiles In Courage, A Night To Remember, Ivanhoe, To Kill A Mockingbird.
By the time I was a sophomore in High School, I was famished for more and thrust into an English Literature class, where I melted. I immersed myself in Beowulf, Yeats, and the remarkable T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson and the prose of Dylan...Rage, rage into the dying of the light...Thomas.
Light. I felt the Light Of the Prose wash over me, and I hungered for more. So it begins, the life of a Book Junkie. Not a night, not one single night ended without a book in my hands, lulling me to sleep. To sleep amid wondrous dreams filled with words and phrases exquisitely written as a lullaby. I did then and I do now, hunger each night for the eleven o’clock hour when I am alone with my books, my authors, my friends, my comfort and solitary joy.
No matter what challenges a day may bring. as the shadows of night close in, I am safely surrounded by authors who soothe me, challenge me, sound like me, whisper to me a message of complicity.
Write. They say. Write. Do not linger too long on the page. Find your own path with a pen. Guide your journey with a gut grabbing opening line. Tell your story. Screw the punctuation. Tell it. Just tell it. Say what you have to say.
So I do. Here in the silent moonless night, curled up and alone, I write. I read. I write. I read. I write. In an intimate sharing of ideas.
My nocturnal solitary solitude leads me to a place, far from cereal boxes and comic cartoons, to this new place of creation.
This is not a designer word studio. A Cheeto rests atop my notebook and I pause to crunch it between my teeth, as I pause in thought. Cheetos and late night meanderings are my weakness. Perhaps Emily D. sipped tea and T. S. smoked dope and Ernest and Faust and Dante tiptoed into the Netherworld.
I, I am so much less worldly, but I treasure the work. I skim when the prose is wickedly thin, but there are nights when I can only read three or four lines because each must be savored like a fine wine. Slowly swirling, swishing, distinguishing each and every ingredient on my palate. Too too rich for more than one sip at a time.
Foodies. I respect you. I honor you. To be able to cook well is divine. To be able to read beyond your means is the most divine gift of all.
Libraries are free. Open to all. Seek a book. Read beyond your ken. Buy a dictionary. Invest in a thesaurus. But for heaven’s sake....READ.
If you must start small, try the backs of cereal boxes, or highway signs.
And don’t forget the Cheetos.