How Reading Formed Me, Saved Me & Opened My Eyes

 

“I go along with Albert Camus, who famously said, ‘The responsibility of the writer is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,’ ” Matthiessen said. “And that’s always been kind of my informal motto.”

Listening to the soundtrack of my life this weekend (Yes. NPR. I am that person.) I caught the above quote from Peter Mattheissen, who died on Saturday, on a replay of his 1989 Fresh Air interview. He was fascinating for many reasons—for instance, when he founded  The Paris Review (with George Plimpton) it was tied in with his stint at the CIA, using the magazine as a cover for his spying activities. Then, he moved dramatically to the left politically.

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New Novel ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE Available For Pre-Order

 

Randy Susan Meyers next novel Accidents of Marriage, coming from Atria Books 9/2/2104.

Accidents of Marriage explores the damaging effects of a spouse’s emotional abuse. Maddy is a working mother trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out during his periodic rages. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids, keeping a fragile peace until one rainy day when Maddy and Ben are in the car together. Ben’s temper gets the best of him and Maddy is left fighting for her life.

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Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole

(This post first ran in 2011)

In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.

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Heart-Break Men, Liar Song Men, I Didn’t Mean to Lie about Being Married Men: Songs from THE COMFORT OF LIES

The more relationships I have in my rear view, the more I organize my exes according to the sad-song scale: heartbreak song men . . . liar-song men . . . I-didn’t-mean- to-hurt you-but-oops-I-guess-not-telling-you-I-was-married-was-a-mistake men. 

In The Comfort of Lies, pile-ups in the intersections of infidelity, adoption, marriage, parenthood and careers create perfect storms for desolate love music.  I gathered a playlist eponymous of the particular sadness or strength of each character, and, of course, each rang in a past love nightmare of my own–thus creating a personal blues loop, allowing me to fall down the rabbit hole of melancholia, making me ever more grateful that I ultimately smartened up and married a non-sad song man.

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Secrets, Lies & Clothes: What We Do For Love & Work–Benefit for Girls Inc

 Writing fiction is basically lying for a living. For me, it was a perfect fit. I stopped working with criminals, started writing, and  . . . oh, no! I realized I better trade in my schleppy refugee from the 70′s wardrobe for something with at least an edge of elegance. So I binged on style change (hair, clothes, make-up)—and then lied to my husband about the cost. 

Please join me at the Eileen Fisher store in the Mall at Chestnut Hill, talking about finding love at 47 (after too many bad boys and so many lies, mine and theirs) switching careers at 57, and refashioning my life, inside and out.

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Five Facts about that Bad Boy of Yours

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Perhaps the lure of the bad boy is similar to the lure of climbing Mt. Everest. It feels so good to conquer it and get to the top—despite all the pain you felt on the ascent. Unfortunately, you have to climb down and start all over again to get back up to that thrilling peak.

Working with batterers for almost ten years afforded me plenty of material and plenty of insight. The clearest and most useful lesson I learned was this: a ‘bad boy’ isn’t edgy, exciting, and a bag of fun, he’s mean and selfish and looking out for number one—himself—all the time.

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Posted in Domestic Violence, My Opinionated Self | Tagged | 7 Comments

Art Versus Artists: Does It Matter?

 

Last night I watched a TMC documentary: And The Oscar Goes To. Saying that I wept is about as meaningful as saying I sneezed—I am the easiest tears-mark in the world. Something about seeing actors fall on their proverbial knees in gratitude, brings out my crybaby side. I cried hardest listening to Tom Hanks talk about AIDS taking too many people, Hattie McDaniels, stunned words about this too-long-in-the-making recognition of black actors. Jane Fonda remembering how Vietnam overshadowed her Oscar win for Klute. Sidney Poitier refusing to answer when someone wanted him to speak as a representative of all black people—saying he needed to think before he spoke.

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My Storied Food

When I was a girl, it was family lore that my Aunt Irene, when she cooked something awful, yelled, “it’s a loser” to my Uncle Bobby as he walked in the house.  I’ve been known to come out with more than a few losers (like the time I served my new in-laws pie accidently made with Borax instead of sugar. (Lesson learned–be careful how you decant,) and I’ve made a few dishes that held an opium-like addiction, but it’s the stories behind both that make cooking a joy..

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When Research Gets Giddy: Extreme Make-up Editon

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. Zora Neale Hurston

Novels require texture. Beneath the surface should reside volumes of information which will remain untold, but which informs and enriches every page of your story. Research is the imaginary and real travel of writing. You can’t build your entire novel on it, but oh, the places you’ll go.

Research is addictive. Even grim-road explorations challenge me to find enough self-control to stop digging and start writing. I lost hours to melancholy horror while writing The Murderer’s Daughters I watched operations on line, read detailed accounts of autopsies—and revisited my years working with batterers. The book spanned three decades, so nuggets of bright-colored information joined the grief and blood. Hippie ponchos. White Rain Hairspray. Patchouli.

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Posted in Accidents of Marriage, My Life, The Comfort of Lies, The Murderer's Daughters, Writing | 1 Comment

Rescuing Children With Happiness, Once Again

Being invisible is pretty hard for a kid. Crummy childhoods take many forms and usually it’s an amalgam of yuck. Smacks and screams thankfully have a time limit, but neglect is the evil gift that never stops.

Even the most benign neglect—like being a latchkey kid—can foster loneliness.

When trouble fills a family, kids are pushed to the background. I lived in a land of my own imagining, where I believed my real parents, President Kennedy and Jackie, had left me to fend for myself, testing a ‘cream will rise to the top’ theory. Meanwhile my beleaguered sister, by nine, was trying her sullen best to cook me supper.

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Posted in Childhood, Family, My Life, My Opinionated Self, Sisters | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments