Monday, March 24, 2014

A Night at the Museum

By Elizabeth

Last week, Joan, Pamela and I braved Friday night traffic and ventured to the Dallas Museum of Art in downtown Dallas to listen to Ron Rash and Dan Woodrell talk books. It was no small feat for any of the three of us: Joan was coming off work, I've been crazy with family stuff, and Pamela had just had a really tough day. But we made it, and we were all glad we did.

Ron Rash (foreground) and Daniel Woodrell sign
 books after their talk at the DMA. 
For one thing, it was, as pretty much ever, fun to hear writers talk about their process, their ideas, their agonies and delights in this endeavor. But I think that night, even more than usual, it was just really good to get together with kindred minds and talk. About books, yes, including Rash's and Woodrell's. Anyone who encountered me last summer probably couldn't get me to shut up about Rash's works, three of which I consumed in fast order as the temperatures soared. (Serena; The Cove; and a selection of short stories, Nothing Gold Can Stay) Both Joan and Pamela bought a tome from each man's collection, and I expect to shortly hear them rave in a fashion not unlike mine. (Well, maybe not with the same zeal, less likely than me to accost strangers at Target. But still.)

That night, though, I have to say, even more than the author talk was just our simple talk afterward. Yes, we discussed our works-in-progress, where we are and where we're headed, and we talked about other books we've read and loved recently, but we also just talked about ourselves. About life and kids and joy and tragedy and it reminded me that as much as I love books, sometimes we need to pull our noses out of them and just go have some fun. Sometimes we need other people to remind us to get out and do, go and live, to love and to be.

Woodrell's latest book, The Maid's Version, is about a real-life tragedy that changed the course of a town and the lives of its inhabitants for generations. As he read selections from it, read his description of a doomed woman who lived a questionably moral life unapologetically up until the day she perished, I thought about the decisions we all make and how they might not affect our outcome at all. This particular woman lived a short hard life, but it was not cut short because of that, but rather because she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I guess the question that rises, at least for me, is if she had known her time was so short, would she have made the same choices? Would I?

Would you?

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