Thursday, September 22, 2011

Speak of the Devil: When Literature Intersects Reality

It should come as no surprise that literature sometimes intersects with reality; this intersection is (or should be) one of the goals of any writer who wants his/her readers to be able to identify with the characters or story at all.  Despite my intellectual understanding of this, however, the mental ping that accompanies these intersections generally comes as a pleasant surprise, and (depending on the strength of that ping) generally makes me want to give the author a round of applause.

In fact, my original name for this blog (back before I had even one reader) was Life and Lit to celebrate those connections, but I was afraid others would think I was referring specifically to my life in an utterly narcissistic tribute to myself.  (Of course, I'll admit that I've written about these personal intersections here and here and here--and pretty much every other time I've ever posted anything around here, but that's only to be expected in a personal blog.)

Still, I love being able to make those connections between my internal escapades (in the form of reading) and my external escapades (in the form of living), which was one reason I so enjoyed Margot Berwin's Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire.  I recently started a container garden in my bedroom, comprised (so far) of basil, jalepeno peppers, and tomatoes and have been trying my best not to kill it--so reading a book about a character who lives in an urban environment and starts growing tropical plants in her living room definitely spoke to me.

In fact, I purchased a majesty palm (a sub-tropical plant) several months ago and set it up in my living room, only to discover later that, despite the fact that it is often marketed as an indoor plant, majesty palms are generally not well-suited to indoor life.  I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do about it (setting it free in the local park being one option if it starts to draw mites), but reading about another person also experimenting with difficult-to-grow plants definitely set off a series of pings.  I love it when that happens.

(By the way, Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire was a pretty interesting book even without the pings.  It has a hint of magical realism without going full Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the story line is not predictable, and the main character has a pretty hilarious internal monologue.  I have a feeling women would enjoy reading it more than men would, but either way I would recommend it as a light, enjoyable read.)  

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