Friday, October 11, 2013

Janice's Favorite Susan Cooper Story

So, I'd hoped to write up a report about Susan Cooper's talk at the Puyallup book fair
(back on Friday, Sept 24th) but with one thing or another haven't been able to get to it. Now that my memory of the event's starting to fade a bit, thought that instead I'd just share a few of her more memorable remarks I'd jotted down at the time.

--"Demanding, discerning, and intelligent" [I think this was Le Guin's description of Cooper in her opening remarks]

Janice's favorite story, by far, was Cooper's recounting having once taken her kids for a walk in the park when her son, aged about three, stopped and said of his year and a half old sister  "I think it's time [sister] met my friend." When Cooper, puzzled, asked "What friend?", he replied "The Lady with the Books". It turned out he meant the children's librarian at the nearby local library or, as Cooper put it, the treasure house and it's (friendly) keeper.

--why, when there's so much good in us, we human beings do so much evil?

--"I never know what I've written until the publisher tells me what it is" [on writing for 'young adults']

--"[I] discovered . . . the thing I was put here to do" [by writing, she discovered she was meant to be a writer]

-- "when you grow up in the awareness that somebody is trying to kill you" [on personal experience of evil during wartime]

Her most recent book is set against the backdrop of King Philip's War, seeking to answer "the question that won't let me alone": "how could this possibly have happened?" -- that in just a generation or two the friendly relations between native Americans and the Massachusetts bay colonists had degenerated into a disastrous war. The key, she felt, came "when people forsake human doubt for . . . absolute certainty." She later re-iterated "the perils of absolute certainty"

-- "a book is a voyage of discovery, for the writer as much as the reader(s)"

--"I don't write for children. I write for myself."

-- "to shine a small light on [life] . . . "

-- "the unread story's not a story: it's little black marks on wood pulp" [this was Cooper quoting Le Guin, but not sure when U.K.LeG originally said this].

We didn't stay for the book signing, but it was a memorable event, and we were glad we made it.

--John R.
current reading: TARAN WANDERER
current audiobook: CATCHING FIRE

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