Friday, August 29, 2014

How many of us have been hooked on the Outlander series? Most of my family has, and we're excited just now because it's become a TV series as well. I have seldom had the patience to follow a series, but this time travel author uses real history so deftly that I feel myself truly involved in her characters and their dramatic dilemmas. I am so deep in her latest tome, which takes place during the American Revolution, that I almost feel myself there with her, in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. Fantastic research! She must have a busy team for it.

I think inventing a "real world" as this author does, is about as exciting a challenge as a writer can have. Talk about "creating history."  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grandma Moses

On the TV evening news the other day I saw a great video about Grandma Moses, the remarkable woman who became a successful painter at the age of 76. She took up art when arthritis made her give  up the embroidery she enjoyed during her retirement. Because people loved her artworks  and bought them, she went on doing them until her death at 101, by which time she had produced nearly 1500 paintings, mostly from her memories of country life. 
As I listened to her story I was struck by the many similarities between her life and mine, especially when she said, “I just like to keep busy.” I too had raised five children, ran a home  and had a full-time job. Like Anna Mary Moses, I published a memoir at the age of 88, only in words instead of paint. once I saw it in print, I couldn’t stop for ten years, and produced two more books of autobiography, as well as a novel and a storybook for children.
But the works that mean the most to me are the three memoirs, because they explore a woman’s life through three of the most critical periods of the twentieth century, and  think they are contemporary accounts of those times we all lived through -- the social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, the economic crises of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the desperate years of World War II. Those times changed our world forever, and only a few of those of us who lived through them are still here to tell what those lives were like.
I imagine that Grandma Moses, just as I do, believed that it’s never too late to tell the stories that so many have experienced but only a few have the words to share.  


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hard Choices

I've just finished reading an extraordinary  new book, Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices.” It covers her four-year stint as Secretary of State, and I am in awe of the range and productivity of those years as she ranged over the world (112 countries!) lending her personal touch to tough diplomatic problems and even harder human ones.
I was particularly moved by the last chapter, in which she talks about understanding that “new technologies are reshaping how we practice diplomacy and development, just as they were changing how people everywhere communicated, worked, organized, and played. The paragraph I quote was the most moving, as it envisions the hard choices we will have to make in the complex  world of the future.
“We discussed how these tools were in and of themselves value-neutral. They could be forces for bad as easily as for good, just as steel can be used to build hospitals or tanks and nuclear power can either energize a city or destroy it. We had to act responsibly to maximize technology’s benefits – while minimizing the risks."
          This book convinces me (as if I needed convincing) that Secretary Clinton is superbly fitted to be a fabulous president. Who else has ever been trained as a governor’s wife, a First Lady, a U.S. Senator and a Secretary of State?

          I hope she’ll run! And I hope I live to vote for her.