Saturday, June 8, 2013
What P.S. BE ELEVEN & An Obituary Taught Me About Voice
I recently finished reading P.S. BE ELEVEN by Rita Williams-Garcia. What makes this book unique is that it's infused with voice. Big Ma is one of the most memorable adult characters since Richard Peck's Grandma Dowdel. And I giggled every time Fern said, "surely did," or Delphine called her sisters Heckle and Jeckle.
While I was in the midst of reading this novel, my father-in-law, Walter Hitchcock died. Walt had asked me a couple of years ago to write his obituary, but it didn't go so well. In retrospect, I think he was afraid to give me feedback, (afraid he'd hurt my feelings), and I was uncomfortable writing an obit for a man who was still alive and whom I didn't want to lose. A little frustrated, I asked Walt to look through the local papers and send me examples of obits he liked. To which he replied, "I don't like any of them. None of them sounds like me."
In the end, Walt left some notes about what he'd like in his obituary and his wife and kids edited them after his death. He himself wrote some of my favorite parts. Like these lines: