Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Getting to know you.....

By R.J. Harlick

Which book have you read that makes you wish you could sit down for a gab fest with the writer, living or dead? 

I suppose I could imagine myself stepping into a time machine and zooming back to the 1930s to visit Ernest Hemingway in his Key West writing studio. We could discuss his frustrations with his latest book, but more likely he would want to regale me with the landing of the giant marlin he’d caught the day before.

Or, I could try the 1970s and fly over to Scotland to visit Dorothy Dunnett in her Edinburgh home. We could chat about her complex anti-hero Francis Crawford of the Lymond Chronicles, one of the most complicated characters ever created in fiction. I would also hope that she would show me the latest portrait she was painting.

It would be great fun to zoom back further in time to Tsarist Russia in the 1880’s. I would take a horse drawn carriage to Yasnaya Polyana to chat with Leo Tolstoy, if his wife, Sophia, would let me. I would want to talk about War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but more likely he would insist on expounding on his beliefs in nonviolent resistance to evil.

Since I would already be on the far side of the big pond, I might as well head to London to see if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would talk to me. I would love to learn his secret for keeping his Sherlock Holmes readers fully in suspense until the surprise twist at the end, that is if I could take him away from his cricket game.

Somerset Maugham would be fun to visit at his villa on Cap Ferrat, if only to see what the French Riviera was like in the 1930s. Perhaps he would invite me to one of his literary salons and we could talk about his travels to the Far East and South Seas on which many of his short stories and novels, including the Paul Gaughan inspired Moon and Sixpence were based.

Lastly, I would return to Canada to visit a house that intrigued me as a child growing up in North Toronto. I knew something exotic and mysterious was hidden behind the high stone fence and line of trees. Years later I learned the house belonged to Mazo de la Roche. Behind those stone walls she created the world of Jalna that kept the reading world enthralled in the pre and post war years. A reclusive person, I would hope she would invite me in for tea and take me on a tour of her large property showing me the special places where she got her inspiration. 

I could name many more authors whose books have intrigued me enough to want to learn more about the author, but I will leave those for another time.


Which authors would you like to get to know?

11 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Great post, Robin. And I love your "more likelys"!

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, Paul. I have a feeling the more likelys would be more interesting than discussing books.

Susan C Shea said...

Love this flight of imagination. It hardly matters what they talk about - just visiting them would be a dream come true. Let's see, I would add dear Will Shakespeare, in the hope that he would whisper in my ear the truth of whether or not he really wrote all those masterpieces. And James Joyce because I have read he was quite approachable if you loved his work. And maybe Virginia Woolf, although I'd be so intimidated because she was part of such a brilliant literary crowd. Maybe I could serve her tea?

RJ Harlick said...

Susan, I had given thought to sipping sherry with the Bloomsbury Group. Shakespeare would be fun too along with so many others...for another visit.

Meredith Cole said...

Love your list!

Patricia Filteau said...

You intrigued me with your selection of Mazo de la Roche. While I knew the name, embarrassingly I made no other connections. Thank you Wikipedia for informing and re-informing. Indeed a great selection to interview a writer who gave the world so many tales yet so little is known of her own story. Hemingway – I think he is overrated – may be we know too much about him. I never tire in reading another biographical work of Lucy Maud Montgomery yet an opportunity to sit with her and simply listen lend so much more 'scope for the imagination.'

RJ Harlick said...

Patricia, Lucy Maud would be another terrific author to visit. You should try one of the de la Roche's books. They take you into an almost Downton Abbey kind of world with a Canadian twist. As for Hemingway, I read most of his books years ago and loved them. But hey if we all liked the same authors it would be very boring. Thanks for your comments.

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, Meredith.

Patricia Filteau said...

Will check her out on the next library visit. Thanks

S. C. Gates said...

I thought I was the only person I knew who read Mazo de la Roche's Jalna books. I adored them as a young person. Recently saw a very interesting documentary about her Robin. Wish I could remember where!

RJ Harlick said...

Susan, it was on TVO. I say the same documentary, which is probably why I thought of her for this blog.