Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 20 in "30 Days of Blogging"

Day 20: write a letter to someone

Dear Nick Hornby,

So I have just finished "How to Be Good". Excellent work, as always. I am not sure why it has taken me this long to read it, since I seem to read just about everything else you put out within days. It had so many truisms, and so much look-you-in-the-face honesty about what it means to be good, and how we attempt to answer those questions for ourselves. Thanks for being willing to take that on, and doing it with humor.

I've always wondered - what is the genesis for these characters? Are they people you know, made into a fictional form? Are they aspects of your character, or those around you, put into a more understandable and readable context? I always feel that they are so bang-on, and that makes me wonder how you develop them. I guess that is the age old question to the author isn't it? Yet, I still wonder.

About a year ago, I heard you speak in Seattle. Someone asked you if you were an optimist, and you talked about how you think redemption is in the little things - the situation doesn't necessarily change, but maybe the way we react to it can. You said that sometimes people criticize you for having that kind of "hope" in your art, but that you'd rather be criticized than be hopeless. Maybe it's weird for me to summarize your own words back to you, but they stuck with me.

I think about those words often, and especially as I read this book. Moments of hope are sometimes hard to come by - so we need to hold on to them when they do, even if our circumstances don't change. Sometimes I feel like it's impossible to beat back the cynic inside me, and it seems like that is true for a lot of your characters too. Cynicism is usually "first nature" and often pretty funny. But, sometimes they also realize that the cynicism is kind of poisonous to themselves and their communities.

Thanks for putting that all into words, and into characters. I doubt I need to say it after a letter like this, but I really appreciate your work. Thanks for doing it.


*For some context, and the reasons why I love Nick, and the time I met him, check out this post.


kate said...

Redemption is in the little things.

That's a good thought to keep in your back pocket.

Spiro said...

he'd rather be criticized than be hopeless. love that. wish there was recording of him saying it so I could quote him.