Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heading Back East

The boys and I leave this morning for several days in New Jersey, visiting my sister. We'll go to New York City tomorrow, where I'll have lunch with my editor at Random House and tea with my agent, which sounds very glamorous to me. I do love any little bit of glamor that finds its way into my life. We may sightsee in Philadelphia on Friday.

Saturday - the Jersey shore? which might be very crowded on this holiday weekend? Or simply relax at Cheryl and Carey's house, which also happens to be our childhood home, bought by Cheryl and Carey some fifteen years after my mother sold it to somebody else. The house is filled with everything conceivable for fun: tens of thousands of books, hundreds of bears, heaps of board games, video games, remote controlled cars, jigsaw puzzles. NOTHING is more fun than simply spending time at Cheryl and Carey's house.

Sunday we'll have the internment for my mother, in the same beautiful garden at Wilson Memorial Church in Watchung, where my father's ashes were placed 23 years ago.

Monday we'll fly home. The first six months of the year have been very hard for our family, and so I'm planning to start 2010 over again officially in July. It was only the FIRST HALF of 2010 that was bad, you see. The rest of it is going to be wonderful. Right?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Wonderful Idea for a Party

(Photo of our Boulder Open Space by David Perry)

I didn't grow up in a family that entertained. My parents never once gave a party or even attended a party. So I have always felt shy myself about entertaining. But last night, if I do say so myself, I hosted a completely delightful party.

I had the wonderful idea of hiring a naturalist to come along with me and a few friends for an evening hike on one of our beautiful Boulder trails and tell us about everything that we were seeing. So the incomparable Mary Taylor Young, author of many field guides and birdwatching essays, joined us.

Now, thanks to Mary, I can identify chokecherries and wild currants and three-leafed sumac with its tart lemonade berries. Now I can identify purple penstemons and yellow cone flowers and the slender Mariposa lily. I can recognize the call of the towee: drink, drink TEEEEEA.

At the end of the evening, as we sat in my little living room having our post-hike wine and cheese and mini chocolate eclairs, Mary asked each of us what our favorite part of the evening had been. For me, it had been sitting on a group of rocks, some distance off the trail, in the stillness of the golden Colorado evening, just listening for birdsong.

Plus, knowing that I can host a truly lovely party, after all!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home from Aspen

I'm back from three glorious days in the mountains with my friends Rowan and Rachel. I've been friends with Rowan for some sixteen years, since our boys met and became best friends in preschool at Boulder Montessori; I've been friends with Rachel for almost thirty years, since we worked together as support staff at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. Rachel has been visiting me from her home in Roanoke, Virginia, and joined Rowan and me for our girlfriend getaway to Aspen.

The pretext for the trip was the awards ceremony for the Colorado Book Awards, held last year and this year in Aspen. Last year my book The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish was a finalist in the juvenile category and won. This year my book How Oliver Olson Changed the World was a finalist in the juvenile category and didn't win.

Last year I thought, ooh, I may enter a book for the Colorado Book Award every year! This year I'm thinking, oh, I don't know if I'll bother entering my book next year (One Square Inch). Winning is definitely more fun than not winning. And of course not winning engages all my crabby thoughts: the book that won last year got less glowing reviews than the book that didn't win this year (which had a starred review, and was named an ALA Notable Book of the Year, and - well, you get the drift of my thoughts!). It costs $50 to enter the award, and when you win - IF you win - you only get $150. And you compete against other Colorado authors, which means that if you win, you often beat out a friend, and if you lose, you've been beaten out by a friend, and neither of those is a terribly comfortable situation.

So I'll see. It IS lovely to have a glamorous-sounding excuse to go to Aspen: "I'm off to Aspen this week, because one of my books is up for the Colorado Book Award." That sentence does trip pleasingly off my tongue! And then I can deduct the expense of the gas and the hotel room and at least a couple of the meals - and maybe a couple of the glasses of wine that I sipped together with Rachel and Rowan as we sat outdoors in a sidewalk cafe gazing up at the mountains, on a day where it was 80 degrees in Aspen and 95 degrees in Boulder. So maybe yes for next year, too?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I finished my revisions/expansion of Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters this morning and emailed it off to Random House. Oh, I am so happy, so happy! Some writer is quoted as having said, "I don't like writing, I like having written." I love both. And this morning I did both. I had the joy of writing those last few paragraphs and the joy of all the tweaking, polishing, and proofreading. And then the joy of clicking SEND. And now I'll have the joy of celebrating. I leave tomorrow for three days in Aspen with my dear friends Rachel and Rowan.

I like my whole entire life right this minute.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Inch by Inch

One of my all-time favorite songs is "The Garden Song." We have it on a CD sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary. It begins:

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make my garden grow.
All you need is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row,
Someone bless these seeds I sow.
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain comes tumbling down.

This has been the theme music for my whole entire life. I do my writing, I do my job, I raised my children, all inch by inch, row by row, hour by hour, day by day, doing a little bit at a time, blindly, faithfully, hoping for that blessing and warming of my efforts. Not all seeds germinate. Sometimes the rain doesn't come tumbling down. But many seeds do sprout, and the rain has come for the most part when I've needed it.

I have major revisions to do on Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters, the first book of my new three-book series for Random House. I submitted a 70-page manuscript; I was then asked to turn it into a 100-page manuscript; and I was then asked (apologetically) to turn it into a 125-page manuscript. It is hard to grow a manuscript that much, especially as I've always prided myself on being able to write to a specified length, carefully crafting a story to fit within a certain size and shape.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to add that last 25 pages. But then I put my inch-by-inch philosophy into play. I sat down three days ago with my manuscript, and the editor's very helpful notes, and made my own notes for exactly what I would add and where I would add it. That took almost three hours. Then I spent two hours the next day doing much of the adding. Today I spent two hours editing and polishing what I added. I've gone through nine chapters of thirteen: just four more to go (including one major scene). But I think that's probably only another four hours.

Then I'll be done, comfortably before my June 30 deadline. What looked so hard turned out to be so easy. It's always easy just to plant one inch, just to weed one row.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Minor Irritations

Aren't they sometimes more annoying than major woes?

Mine today: my extremely dear friend Rachel arrives tomorrow from Roanoke for a week-long visit, which will include a three-day jaunt up to Aspen for the Colorado Book Awards, as How Oliver Olson Changed the World is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award this year. As I own only one car and my family has three drivers, I decided to splurge and get a rental car so that Rachel and I could play to our hearts' content without depriving the boys of transportation. So I reserved a nice little Chevy Aveo to pick up today at noon.

But when I got there to pick it up, the woman at the desk told me in a chirpy, cheery voice that I was going to get a "free upgrade" as they didn't have any actual CARS on the lot. Instead I would get an enormous mini-van or a humongous SUV. How could I drive such a vehicle? How could I pay for gas for it? How could I make the sliding doors open and shut? ("Oh, they're automatic!" she told me. But nothing like that is automatic for me.)

So now they're going to bring me the right kind of car - that is, to say, a CAR - to my house on Monday, and it will all be okay. But I still feel grouchy and grumpy. No more "free upgrades" for me!

But now that I've vented - one of the joys of blogging! - I'm going to improve my day by going to King Soopers and buying Rockies tickets for a Red Sox game this week and a Cardinals game in July. Nobody can be sad who has a Rockies game to look forward to, right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two Hours a Day?

I named this blog "An Hour a Day" because throughout my entire career thus far, I have written all by books by spending just an hour a day writing them. As many of you know, I use my lovely cherrywood hourglass, turning it over to create my magical hour of writing. I have relied on the wisdom of my literary role model, Anthony Trollope, who wrote most of his very long novels while working full time for the British post office. He said, "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules."

But now, if I'm going to meet my book deadlines for my new contract, I am going to have to have a somewhat larger daily task. I am going to have to write for - gasp - TWO hours a day.

My new role model is going to be my sister, Cheryl, who wrote an entire 50,000 word novel last November for National Novel Writing Month while working a grueling full-time job as a tax specialist in New York City, with a lengthy bus commute on top of that - oh, and with swine flu on top of THAT. She wrote 50,000 in one month under nightmarish conditions. I have two months to write my 50,000 words, without her competing pressures.

I can do it. My only question is: can I do it in two hours a day?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This Is Not Procrastination

With my near-impossible deadline for these next two books now before me, I woke up this morning not at 5, but at 4:30, and set to work straightaway. To work writing? No, indeed. To work rummaging through the rat's nest at the bottom of my writing supplies closet. I thew out some 20 used Jiffy bag mailers that I had kept just in case I needed them (retaining 3 or 4 for that purpose); I recyled the cardboard backs of pads that I had kept just in case I wanted to mail a photo packed between two pieces of cardboard; I sorted through all the different sizes of FedEx envelopes I had accumulated and arranged them in a pleasing progression.

Procrastination? No!

I hear other writers confess the lengths to which they will go to avoid, or at least to postpone, writing: mopping the kitchen floor, scrubbing the toilet, washing windows. But I think these writers are too hard on themselves. This isn't procrastination, according to me. This is a necessary stage in preparing to write.

Would you invite a house guest into a dirty, messy home? If not, how can you invite the Muse into a dirty messy office? I could tell that my Muse has been feeling uneasy for some time about that heap of Jiffy bags on the closet floor. I was feeling a bit uneasy about it myself.

There is an Advent hymn I love by Eleanor Farejon, which begins like this:

People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today.
Love, the guest, is on the way.

I think this can be adapted as an invitation to the Muse. This morning I made my little office as fair as I am able. I've trimmed the hearth and set the table. I'm looking east and singing today. My writing Muse is on the way.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An Experiment

I finally got my contract for my three-book deal from Random House. This is the first time I've ever had a contract negotiated for me by an agent. In the past I never read my contracts, just signed them without giving them so much as a glance, and mailed them back. One time, I mailed the contract back without even signing it, so much was I in a hurry to clinch the deal and get my check.

This time I did glance at the contract - not the money part, or all the four hundred thousand possible sub-rights that are being sold and what percentage split I get for every one - but at the due dates for the three manuscripts. The first date has already past (May 3), but that's okay as the book was submitted on time and I'm working on revisions now. The due date for the second book is August 30. And the due date for the third book is September 15. Of this year! Two weeks after the due date for the second book. Each book is supposed to be 25,000 words, around 125 pages in my Courier font.

I assumed it was a mistake. Was I really supposed to write a whole entire book in two weeks? But I just checked with my agent, and apparently it isn't a mistake! He told me that I might be able to get another month, though, if I need it.

I'm used to writing books in a VERY leisurely manner: a page a day, handwritten early in the morning, with pages slowing mounting up as the months go by. So this is going to be an experiment. Will I like writing books quickly, generating huge quantities of pages every day? Maybe. I think I might. I'll have to see. But I don't think I'll be writing any OTHER books between now and September!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home from Ann Arbor

It was bliss, spending four intense days in a world where everybody loves what I love and knows so much about it and can discuss it in such insightful ways. I attended papers on children's literature in Russia, Poland, Taiwan, and India; I attended a stunning paper on Kipling's philosophy of history as echoed in Rosemary Sutcliff's novel The Shining Company, and another stunning paper on how various illustrators have handled the arguably problematic ending of The Secret Garden, in which Mary seemingly slips out of focus in favor of authorial emphasis only on the character of Colin.

And this is a world in which EVERYBODY has read Middlemarch! And practically knows it by heart. (When they're not teaching and writing about children's literature, many of them are teaching and writing about Victorian literature.) So given that I had finished Middlemarch, all glorious 838 pages of it, on the plane en route to Detroit/Ann Arbor, you can imagine how lovely it was to race into my hotel room and immediately accost my two suite mates with the news, "I just finished reading Middlemarch!"

They even let me read aloud to them my favorite lines from Middlemarch that I had written down in my little notebook as I was reading. Here are some of them:

From Celia, "O Mrs. Cadwallader, I don't think it can be nice to marry a man with a great soul."

From Mrs. Cadwallader re this same allegedly great-souled man, Mr. Casaubon: "Somebody put a drop [of his blood] under a magnifying glass, and it was all semicolons and parentheses."

From Mary: "I think any hardship is better than pretending to do what one is paid for, and never really doing it."

From Will: "The best piety is to enjoy - when you can. You are doing the most then to spare the earth's character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight - in art or in anything else."

From our narrator: "There is no general doctrine which is not capable of eating out morality if unchecked by the deep-seated habit of direct fellow feeling with individual fellow men."

And last, from Dorothea: "By desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil - widening the skirts of light and making the struggle against darkness narrower."

This makes me want to be good. The whole book made me desperately want to be good. Don't even these isolated quotes, taken out of context, make you want to be good?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Off to Ann Arbor

I leave in another hour for one of the great joys of my life: the annual conference of the Children's Literature Association, where professors come from around the world to present scholarly papers about children's books. The conference is held somewhere different each year. This year it's taking place in Ann Arbor.

I'm attaching a link to the conference program so you can see what amazing fun awaits me. How about a paper on "Three Strikes and You're IN: The Outsider/Insider Paradigm in Baseball Stories," "Nancy Drew: Solving the Case of Girl Gaming and Technologically Inspired Fiction,” "Images of Childhoods in Taiwanese Juvenile Fiction in the 1960s,""Critiquing Colonialism from Within: British Postcolonial Fantasy for Young Readers" ? Yum!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Very Long Books

Yesterday I was supposed to be working on a project that I happen to loathe and abominate. Worse, I couldn't accomplish anything on it until I received a certain UPS delivery, and the UPS truck didn't arrive at my door until almost five o'clock. And I loathe and abominate this project so much that I'm incapable of working on anything else while it is hanging over my head, too paralyzed with misery and dread to focus my efforts on any other productive task.

Fortunately, I wasn't too parazlyed with misery and dread to spend the day reading a few hundred pages of Middlemarch.

In times of stress, there is nothing like being in the middle of a Very Long Book.

The night before, I couldn't sleep, and so I turned on my light and read more of Middlemarch. Today, I finally have my hideous package on this nightmarish project ready to take to Fed-Ex, so I might as well celebrate by reading some more of Middlemarch.

I have to confess that I found the first 200 pages of Middlemarch slow. This is not only a Very Long Book. It's a Very Long Book with very long paragraphs, interminable paragraphs. And at first I didn't care for any of the characters - priggish Dorothea, ghastly Mr. Casaubon, ambitious Dr. Lydgate, flighty beauty Rosamond. And all the lengthy conversations about British politics, circa 1829. And all of George Eliot's confident pronouncements on everything.

But now, at page 572, I'm hooked. I care intensely about what is going to happen next. I know every character so well; by now, they're family. And some of George Eliot's confident pronouncements are lines I want to memorize and carry with me for the rest of my life: "Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the blot? I know no speck so troublesome as self." Were truer words ever spoken?

Most of all, I'm loving the sheer length of Middlemarch, all 838 pages of it. I could stay in its world quite happily forever. I think this may be the summer of reading Very Long Books. Next: Moby Dick, which is another classic I must confess not (yet) to have read? David Copperfield or Kristin Lavransdatter, both of which I read a good 30 years ago? Which Very Long Book should I read next?

Monday, June 7, 2010

"With a Little Help from My Friends"

I finished the paper I'm presenting at the Children's Literature Association conference in Ann Arbor on Thursday. Hooray! I am quite fond of the paper at this moment, perhaps because I'm so fond of the books I'm writing about: Double Date, Double Feature, and Double Wedding, published in the 1950s by Rosamond Du Jardin. I love spending time at the "Teen Hangout" with Pam and her "smooth" friends, and spending time with Penny on the Headlines Club sleigh ride!

The paper isn't very long, 10 pages or so, perfect for a 20-minute presentation slot at the conference. My writing system for scholarly papers always involves writing a short paper first to present at a conference, and then gathering comments on the paper from the conference attendees, and using those comments to expand and develop the paper more fully. If it's a children's literature conference, they tell me other books I should be reading, texts that resonate with my focus texts, critical commentary I've overlooked; if it's a philosophy conference, they raise devastating counterexamples to my argument and shower me with objections. Then I go home and read the recommended books and respond to the rigorous objections. The result is a much improved version of the paper that I can now submit to a journal for publication, knowing that I'll also be getting comments from the double-blind referees (they don't know who I am, and I don't know who they are), which will allow me to revise the paper into its final form.

In the philosophy department, our graduate students have to submit a "fifth-semester paper" which is supposed to serve as evidence that they can do work that is approaching a professional, publishable level. We debate in the department about how much help we should be giving the students with these papers: are the papers supposed to show what the students can do on their own? or are the papers supposed to assist in developing a mentoring relationship that will continue on through the writing of the dissertation?

As you may suspect, I'm solidly in favor of the second approach. I've never written a single paper "on my own" - why should my students have to do what I am unable and unwilling to do? I couldn't write or publish a successful scholarly paper without help from my friends - and my enemies! (Or at least, my critics and philosophical opponents. ) Every paper of mine is in that sense a collaboration.

I'm looking forward to hearing what my "collaborators" in Ann Arbor are going to have to say about my Du Jardin paper later this week.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two Modes of Writing

I put in another two good hours of work this morning on my paper for the Children's Literature Association conference next week in Ann Arbor: "Redemption through the Rural in Double Date, Double Feature, and Double Wedding." As I saved my file from the morning's work, I was struck by how different my writing process is for my creative work as opposed to my scholarly work.

I write my children's book manuscripts by hand. I write them slowly, generating only perhaps one handwritten page for an hour's work. I craft each sentence carefully as I go, scribbling and crossing out what I've written until every word feels just right.

I write my scholarly articles on the computer. I charge through the initial draft quickly, slopping down pretty much the whole thing in a few sessions of work. Then I return to the draft again and again, doing massive rewritings. For example, one sentence might initially read, "Introductory sentence about the contradiction at the heart of the pastoral ideal." The rest is left to be filled in later.

Why is my process so different for each kind of work? I can't even IMAGINE writing a children's book directly onto the computer. I can't even IMAGINE writing a scholarly article by hand. I think the difference has something to do with my feeling that somehow I am bringing my characters, their actions, their feelings, their conversations, into being through my my words, that even words laid down carelessly would carry with them a certain reality: I am making this world exist; I am what is causing it to be. Whereas, with my scholarly articles, I have ideas already formed and I just want to get them down on paper, so I can start tinkering with them. And yet, I do have an outline for my stories before I write them. And I do find that my scholarly ideas change enormously as I actually write them down.

Anyway, the conference paper should be done tomorrow. Hooray!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Wasted Day Redeemed

I almost wasted yesterday. Yes, one of the precious days of this glorious summer that stretches ahead of me. I almost wasted it completely.

I was tired from working so hard on my Secret Garden paper on Tuesday, and then working so hard reading the proofs for the Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly (which I'm guest-editing) on Wednesday. And I was hanging around waiting for a shuttle ride back to the Subaru dealer to pick up on car from its major overhaul the day before. And just, well, just spinning my wheels. Checking email every few minutes for some sign from the universe that my life is about to change in a dramatic and wonderful way for the better. Idly flipping through my notes for the paper I'm supposed to be writing on the twins series of Rosamund DuJardin: Double Date, Double Feature, and Double Wedding - oh, I do love 1950s teen romance! But instead of writing the paper, I was just thinking about writing it. And instead of eating all the lovely fresh greens I bought last Saturday at the farmers' market, I was eating an entire pound-page of Hershey's cherry cordial kisses.

I was actually starting to feel depressed.

But then, I salvaged the day! I didn't salvage it in terms of work, but I did salvage it in terms of fun. All by myself, I watched the movie Once, which we had from Netflix: maybe I could be a street performer in Dublin! Then, carless even with my repaired car (one of the boys was using it), I walked down to the George Reynolds branch of the Boulder Public Library and did some pleasurable browsing. Then I continued walking to Vic's SoBo coffee shop for a literary reading by a novelist and poet affiliated with the Lighthouse Writing Workshop. Then I came back home and started reading Middlemarch, which I bought three years ago and never opened.

Now, today, I've already put in a GOOD hour of work on my Twins paper. Later this morning I'm meeting my writer friend Kate Simpson at a bookstore in Golden and then having lunch. I'm going to check email no more than once an hour. The Hershey cherry cordial kisses are almost gone. And if I'm casting around for a project, many hundred pages of Middlemarch remain.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poem for Wednesday

I'm back to writing a poem every Wednesday to share with my poetry buddy, writer Clara Gillow Clark. I'm going to use some of the prompts that poet extraordinaire Molly Fisk has posted, one for each day of the month of May, on her Facebook page. For today I did, "Write an ode to an ordinary object."

Dental Floss

I should sing of dental floss because its regular use
forestalls gum surgery. No doubt that is a very good thing.

But I sing of dental floss because its regular use
might shorten the lecture. The one where she measures

each pocket where each tooth is receding from the gum
and feels obliged to tell me how deep the pockets are,

deeper than last time, deeper, it seems, from the sorrow
in her voice, than the bottom of the deepest sea.

"Let me show you," she says, and hands me a mirror,
one of those magnifying ones that will enlarge every pore

in the red, puffy face surrounding the red, puffy gums,
with that one chin hair I forgot to pluck this morning.

"No," I say. "You can just tell me about them."
She's puzzled. I try to explain. "Wait thirty years

and then we'll see how much YOU like looking
in mirrors." She laughs. She thinks I'm joking.

As she proceeds to the scraping and gouging
portion of the hour, she tells me about her first-grade

daughter, how gifted she is, two years ahead in reading,
three years in math, and how it all comes from HER,

how they would never push her. I think idly about
dental floss, its strength and suppleness, and let my gaze

fall upon her soft white neck. "By the disgruntled patient,
in the hygienist's office, with the dental floss."

At the end of the visit, she tells me that I should come
back for another cleaning in four months, instead of six.

"We have to do something about those gums!"
She offers me a free toothbrush, free travel-size toothpaste,

and free dental floss. "Can I take two of the dental floss?"
I ask. It might be good to have them. Just in case.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Not-So-Secret Gardens

I sent off the paper this morning that I'm submitting for the edited collection celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the publication (in 1911) of The Secret Garden. My paper looks at a collection of books, mainly picture books but also two longer works, published in the last decade of the last century that seem to borrow extensively from The Secret Garden, in that in almost every single book, children from disparate socio-economic backgrounds, themselves maimed or hurting in various ways, come together to reclaim an abandoned plot of ground, turning it into a flourishing garden. In the process, the individuals themselves are healed, and as they heal themselves, they also heal their community.

My paper argues that the profliferation of these books on Burnett's resonant theme, all published in such a short period of time, contribute to making the theme seem predictable and doctrinaire, the slavish following of a formula rather than an original re-inhabiting of a timeless truth. There are only so many times that one can read about a vacant lot in the inner city, littered with junk and garbage, transformed by an ethnically diverse group of children and adults (including, always, at least one person in a wheelchair), into a celebration of community. The most egregiously heavy-handed in his treatment of this theme is Newbery-medalist Paul Fleischman in Seedfolks, who offers us no fewer than 13 almost instantaneous transformations of his narrating characters, often at their very first glimpse of the garden-in-progress. His characters are Vietnamese, Rumanian, Guatemalan, Jewish, Haitian, Korean, Mexican, Indian, British. . . And just as the cynical reader asks, "But where is the person in the wheelchair?" in rolls Mr. Myers, African-American AND in a wheelchair.

But of course, as an author myself I know that none of these authors set out to write something banal and formulaic. It's more the accumulated totality of all the books together that contributes to this numbing effect. So maybe it's unfair to be so critical. It isn't any one author's fault that everybody else had the same idea at roughly the same time in publishing history. Well, perhaps except for Fleischman, who himself had the same idea 13 times in the span of a single book.

And yet I can't help remembering my high school English teacher who summarized the plot of King Lear for us in six words: "Eyes, eyes, blindness, blindness, get it?" Here, it feels like, "Gardens, gardens, healing, healing. Get it?"

I got it.