Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What I'm reading

A Patchwork Planet. By Anne Tyler.

Every time someone asks me who my favorite writer is, I always forget my answer: Anne Tyler. (I usually say Shakespeare, but that's somehow different.) I love that she is right next door to realism -- not magical realism like Garcia Marquez, but quirky-fabulous, as in fable. As in storytelling. As in made up. The jobs her characters have, like Barnaby's handyman-odd job gig in this book, is realistic yet such a company could never exist. I never want to finish her books, but I also can't wait to find out what happens. I think of her as a Quakerly writer, ultimately very kind to her deeply flawed characters. She captures how we muddle through life. Her writing gives fiction a good name.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Small potatoes

Today I found the rest of my family.

I got a letter from my Aunt Helen, my father's youngest sister. She lives in Tarnow, in southern Poland. She doesn't speak English. I don't speak Polish. I sent a snail-mail letter in English and Polish. She responded via email (wow, they have computers in what I called "the old country" growing up) in Polish. Her niece's daughter says -- in English -- they do want to meet me. I translated the letter using one of those online translators. It says something about small potatoes, apparently. Feels like big ziemniaki to me.