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  • Writer's pictureJ. R. Erickson

Friendships Eternal

A Book that Moved Me and Why…

When I was in college, Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy was required reading in one of my English Lit. courses. In her memoir, Lucy described the devastating cancer that forever altered her face and ultimately her life. The memoir was raw and heart-wrenching, but I think its impact truly hit me years later when I read another memoir, Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. Ann met Lucy at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1981. Ann spoke deeply of her years of friendship with Lucy, offering an outsider’s perspective of her dear friend’s suffering both physically due to the cancer, but also mentally and emotionally as a result of the disfigurement. She wrote too of Lucy’s death of a heroin overdose.

I remember laying in bed reading Truth and Beauty on a rainy day at my parent’s summer home. I cried and cried; Ann’s memories of her lost friend somehow drawing my own loss up and out, as heavy and wet as the rain pouring down the windows. Both of these books reminded me of the power of words, the power of our stories. They’re not insignificant. Our lives, however unheroic, seemingly mundane, and ordinary, are not without meaning and substance. I often hear would-be writers speak of their fear that their life is not interesting, and that nothing extraordinary has happened to them. The truth is that we resonate with the stories closest to our own. The struggles and triumphs of our lives are worth sharing, and we cannot possibly know how they’ll impact another.

Each month I ask my newsletter readers to respond to a question. This month’s question is ‘What is a book that moved you and why?’ I’ve posted my answer above. I’d love to hear your response, please feel free to post it in the comments.

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