Thursday, December 31, 2009

what dreaming means . . .

I just finished reading an excellent novel, Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Not only impressively incandescent writing, but a truly moving meditation on love and loss. He sets much of it in 1974, the frame focuses on Petit's high wire act between the Twin Towers. I too write about the past, trying to tap into a more innocent time. Perhaps it's because the older I get the messier things are.

And then there are the brave people of Iran. Those who walk out into the streets to defy their government knowing what it may/will mean. I can't even imagine where their courage comes from, but it starts with a dream.

I return to 1980 in my novel because it was a time when New York City was still a city I recognized. Every corner on the Upper West Side held memories for me, some good, some bad, some indifferent. All gone now, but then the city was gritty and vibrant, still the city of my childhood and my adolescence, still a place where anything was possible, all you had to do was try.

Amelia dreamed, her dreams draw us in even now. Of course, change is incremental, still did I think we'd elect an African American president in our lifetime in 1980? There are reasons to weep, and reasons to be joyful. . .


  1. I heard Colum McCann read from that book at Aspen Writers in the spring. It was stunning...and I got the book but haven't read it yet. After reading so much crime fiction, I sometimes spin my wheels with books that don't have plot-plot-plot.

  2. Here's a very concrete and dramatic example of how Amelia's dreams "draw us in even now": in 1964, a 27-year-old named Joan Smith became the first pilot, man or woman, to successfully fly the equatorial route around the world. And she did it solo, no less. As a teenager, she'd been inspired by reading a biography of Amelia to become a pilot, and then she became obsessed with the idea of completing Amelia's flight. "Amelia's dreams were now mine", she said. Afterwards, her most treasured memento of the flight was a telegram from Muriel, thanking her for completing Amelia's flight.

  3. What a wonderful quote, "Amelia's dreams were now mine," and how true for me as well, though in less physically courageous ways. The book I just read is about individuals straining for beauty and finding courage in the most unusual ways. . .