Something To Aspire To

I ran across a description of the kind of writer/woman I want to be as I was reading “An Album Quilt” by John McPhee in In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction (edited by Lee Gutkind). McPhee is describing a woman who lived over a hundred years ago in Wyoming ranchland. Her journals were given to him by her son, whom McPhee had been doing some research with.

He writes: ” . . . the admiration and affection I came to feel toward her is probably matched by no one I’ve encountered in my professional life. This was not merely because she had the courage to venture as a young teach into a very distant country, or because she later educated her own bright children, or because she was more than equal to the considerable difficulties of ranch subsistence, but also because she recorded these things — in her journals and later writings — with such wit, insight, grace, irony, compassion, sarcasm, stylistic elegance, and embracing humor that I could not resist her.”

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1 Comment

  1. Amen! Very inspiring. I have that book and have loved the selections I have read from it. This made me want to finish it.


    lizzie Reply:

    I read books of essays as though they are chapter books — just one right after the other. I think I got into the habit when Manchild was a baby and I would read while I nursed him and put him to bed. It was easier to put the book down and get back to bed myself if I was reading one discrete story and not wanting to move on to the next part of the story right away (I would have been up all night). But the essays themselves are always so compelling to me that I don’t have any trouble picking up the book again the next time.

    What is your favorite essay so far? (I’m on the story of Joey Coyle and have read all of them up to that one.)


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