on February 25, 2004
Yesterday - a day filled with joy and with disappointment - my last act before returning home was to stop in at a snug bookstore where I knew I would be welcomed and my soul would find comfort. I came to buy "The Secret Life of Bees," but when I went to purchase it, the owner (a muse of music and literature) offered me the book containing Schmidts two small novellas and said "just read them and call me when you've finished them - or just bring the book back." She will not be getting her book back. I spent the whole of last evening, sans TV, sans music, digesting the beautiful, simple stories. "Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran" seemed at first a simple uninterrupted line, but gradually the small pathways took me on a journey that brought tears, shouts of laughter, and more than the occasional re-read of a sentence or paragraph. "Oscar and the Lady in Pink" again pulled me in with its simplicity. Too easy a tale, I thought. But while the tale was simple, the getting there was not. The use of a particular word, a gesture, an inward thought of the young dying narrator made this a journey of insight and deep understanding. I turned off the light, held the book to my chest, and let tears flow and thoughts roam for well over an hour. I literally didn't want to put the book down. It stayed next to me during the night. My day was touched by grace and generosity, from the bookseller and from the author. Read the book. Hold it close to you. And give a copy to someone you love.