WE ARE WHAT WE READ?
I find myself asking why I read what I read. This was prompted by being asked to list my ten all-time favourite works of fiction. Was there a common theme running through them, and did this say something about me? In no particular order, I began jotting down titles as they came to mind. I had trouble confining myself to just ten, but there was no doubt as to which book came to mind first. There it was in scrawled blue biro. Miss Susie Slagle’s.
Miss Susie Slagle’s, by Augusta Tucker, was published in 1940, but I would have read it for the first time around 1958. I don’t remember how I came by it. I’m presuming it was brought into the house either by my mother or my older sister. It was part of a number of books deemed too ‘adult’ for me and guaranteed, therefore, to be irresistible, like Dad’s Carter Brown stories, which, incidently, must take responsibility for my life-long enjoyment of crime fiction.
But back to Miss Susie Slagle’s. Concerning a group of young medical students lodging in Susie’s boarding house, it was engrossing not only for the depiction of the medical world in 1930’s USA, but also for its wisdom and portrayal of human nature at its most noble and its most base. Though in no way salacious, it taught me much about the opposite sex - heady stuff to a 12 year old female. I have no doubt it influenced my view of what a real man is or is not.
While differing in regard to writing style and genre, the books on my list are notable for being character driven. Primarily, they are about what makes people tick, not about what they do or say, although of course a good writer enables us to decide what people are like by showing us the things they do and the way they do them. So my own writing was always going to be character driven, I expect.
However, dear blogger, I’ve realised my list says a lot more about me, which is why I’m not saying what the other titles are. Self-disclosure can go way too far.