Recently I received a pdf copy of an article I had written back in 1989 and which will soon be republished in THE WRITER. I had given my permission for that re-publication, of course, but maybe a little casually; there was maybe an "Oh, sure" quality to it. When they sent me the article, which I barely remembered after all these years, I began to read it a little nervously because it occurred to me that I might no longer agree with what my younger self had said.
Lois Lowry's Blog
What can I say? I have just been in Germany, visiting my 15-year-old granddaughter and her family, and she took this photograph of me at dinner.
It is very early morning and I am having tea in Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) between flights...I will fly to Luxembourg from here in an hour, for a four-day visit with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. I usually come over here this time of year to see them, and often...as today...with an old suitcase filled with Xmas gifts...they can later throw away the suitcase, and it beats the nuisance and expense of mailing things to Europe.
...but I had forgotten that it existed, until I came across it in my computer today. A magazine for teenagers had asked me to write an article...this was maybe a year ago...about---well, I hardly remember what it was supposed to be about, but I guess it was about me and politics during my much-younger years. So I wrote this. But they didn't like it and it wasn't published. So I left it in my computer and went on to other things.
The first memory I have of me in connection with politics is a spring day in 1945. I had just turned eight.
It was wartime, the last year of a devastating war, and my father, an army officer, was still overseas. We lived in a small college town, the town where my grandfather was president of the bank on High Street.
At eight I knew nothing—cared nothing—about politics. I didn’t know, (though I do now, and find it unsurprising) that my mother and grandparents were Republicans. But I did know that the president of the United States was named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I knew that my mother and grandparents disapproved of him. I had overheard conversations about “that man in the White House” and can still hear, in my memory, my grandmother’s disdainful sniff at the mention of his name.
So when, on an April day, I heard my mother, who had been listening to the radio, gasp and say, “The president is dead!” I leaped to a childish assumption. My eight-year-old’s thinking took this form:
Night before last I was at the Historical Society in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, speaking about the past---mostly my own past---and how it has affected my work. It was a real treat to be in that lovely, historic town, the home of Dickinson College (my grandfather's house, where I once lived while my father as overseas in WW II, now houses the Economics Department of the college). I have so many memories of being a child there---some of which I have included in the book "Autumn Street" which is fictionalized autobiography.
As always one of the nicest things about a conference is getting to see people you like and haven't seen for a while...(in this case, at the Calgary Kaleidoscope conference, Betsy and Ted Lewin)...and also meeting new friends. (Here's a photo of me with writer Betty Birney; we shared a cab to the airport yesterday, she flying home to LA, me to Boston). I look as if I have antlers but it's because I stupidly stood in front of a picture that was hanging on the wall.
Odd, to wake up in the morning wihtout a pending election to think about! Odd, in fact, to wake up this particular morning because my alarm was set for 4:30 AM...I was picked up at 5 in order to head to the airport. Now I am in Salt Lake City, sititng in the Delta Crown Room while I kill a few hours between planes.
I went this morning to vote, after getting a text message from a son in Falmouth, ME: "I just voted" and an email from a stepson: "I was the first person in Manchester, MA to vote!"...I had barely sipped my coffee and glanced at the NYT headlines, and already I felt as if I was lagging behind the rest of the world. So I threw on some clothes and walked to the fire station, kicking my way through the bright yellow leaf-cover on the sidewalk..
I was in New York for three days last week, for several meetings: one with an editor, one with an agent, one as part of a board meeting. So I was busy while I was there. But I also had a few hours free between meetings one afternoon, and I was not far from an art film house that I love (the Angelika on Houston and Mercer Streets); so I went there in hopes of seeing "I've Loved You So Long" with Kristin Scott Thomas. But I arrived twenty minutes after that film had begun, so I looked through the listings to find out what was showing at a time that worked for me.
Back late last night from Portland, Oregon. The pilot of the plane from Chicago-Boston kept updating us on the status of the final playoff game, and it was a sad night for Red Sox fans. But so exiting for Tampa Bay! And their first time.
years ago, or even five, which is to vote for the best man regardless of his
skin color and elect him president. The campaign against him is not one that
anybody will point to with pride in years to come. It is a long trail of
honking and flapping and traces of green slime, as if a flock of geese had
taken up residence in the front yard. But Barack's cool poise in the face of
blather is some sort of testament to American heart and humor. The man has
walked tall and his wife has turned out to be the brightest figure in the
whole political parade, an ebullient woman of quick wit and beautiful
spirit. Bravo, Michelle.
Onward, America. We've all seen plenty of the worst -- the sly cruelty, the
arrogant ignorance, the fascination with trivia, the cheats, the weaselish
and piggish and the buzzardly -- but we can rise above it if we will only
recognize a leader when one comes along and have the sense to let him lead.
I have just returned from Nebraska, and Nebraska always makes me think of Willa Cather. For many years I have saved...in a way that I see it each day...a quote of hers from "My Antonia":
Watching the stock market collapse, seeing my retirement savings disappear, I find myself thinking back to my parents' era and the stories they told of the times before I was born.
Recently I received a copy in the mail of "The New Writer's Handbook"-Volume 2 (which has a wonderful opening essay, incidentally, by Ted Kooser, former US POet Laureate and one of my favorite contemporary poets). It was sent to me because it contains a couple of essays..actually, blog posts from way back...by me, one of them titled "The Neglected Horse and the Undiscovered Room" which talks about a couple of recurrent dreams of mine.
All is well. I got the book for my grandsons. And Amazon has corrected their mis-information.
I've had a number of comments (which I have approved for posting) about my political remarks. I guess it all boils down to the fact that we are very fortunate to live in a country where ordinary citizens are allowed to state their political beliefs publicly....and others are permitted, even encouraged, to disagree publicly...and as long as we don't get into fistfights or even name-calling....well, it is all to the good.
Because one person sent in a comment suggesting I should keep my political views to myself...I have been thinking about that...and have decided that the issues are too vital, too important, to stay silent. I'm not the only children's author who feels that way. Check out Judy Blume's blog, for example, at http://judyblumeblog.blogspot.com/
This afternoon I'm going to see the movie "Man on Wire" with my friend writer Susan Goodman...whose book "See How They Run" is soon to be featured in People Magazine, obviously because of its timeliness (plus the fact that it's an excellent book) since it is about the American electoral process.
I've been traveling around much too much, and when I was in O"Hare yesterday waiting for a plane, I saw a small child having a tantrum and screaming, and thought: I want to do that.
.....the writer of fiction, the one who takes the work seriously, as I do, tries very hard to create narrative that is real and thought-provoking. The job of creating believable fictional characters is not easy. But one thing that is essential to the task is that they act and move and speak the way a real person in real circumstances would.
So Uncle Henrik, in NUMBER THE STARS, says "damn Nazis." Picture his circumstances. He lives in a country that has cherished its integrity and cared about its citizens for hundreds of years. Now his friends and neighbors are in danger of being murdered. He is adult, angry, anguished, impassioned. How would he speak? That was the task I was faced with as the author.
Another review from the Milwaukee production of GOSSAMER:
A Gentle Touch
First Stage's adaptation of Lois Lowry's Gossamer begins with a waif-like girl engaged in a battle of wills with her unyielding mentor, her unquenchable curiosity gently butting against her elder's limited reserve of patience. It's an appropriate beginning for a play that is essentially all about the battle of wills between the spirited ingeniousness of youth and the wisdom of old age, the forces of light and darkness, and between a young boy's suppressed feelings of shame and his burgeoning sense of self-worth.