Unbelievably beautiful day, it made me pause to take it in. You don’t take days like this for granted here. I’m especially grateful that damage was minimal during Sioux County’s tornado on Friday. I was worried for my daughter who lives there, but she was safe in her bunker-like library basement. We are a library family. Both my children work in libraries, one in Colorado and one in Iowa. Surprising isn’t it?
Couldn’t help but compare my last two books that I returned to the library today. “Potluck, Community On The Edge of Wilderness” by Anna Maria Spagna had little in common with “How to Love An American Man”. Being short non-fiction books were all they shared in common. Christine Gasbarre’s memoir was poorly written but had a good story. This author returned home at 28 after the death of her grandfather and a failed love life. She decides to spend time with her adored and newly widowed grandmother who is in the early stages of dementia. She wants to know how her grandmother had a happy sixty year marriage with her grandfather. She ultimately teaches Christine that no man can determine a woman’s future. The only wisdom I got from this. The author also interweaves her story of a new romance. With lines such as… “The touch of his mouth is like a baby rose on my lips” I’m surprised I finished it. Hokey comes to mind. This could have been a really good story but I found the author’s writing superficial.
On the other hand, “Potluck” was a collection of essays that is wonderfully edited into a story about what it is to be a community. It happens to be a remote hamlet named Stehekin of 100 people. The diversity and quirkiness makes the potluck symbolism and story interesting. A Pacific North West transplant, Anna Maria Spagna is in her mid thirties and just now feeling comfortable with belonging. The author evolves through a Catholic upbringing and is now a Quaker in theory. She loses her father at an early age and tries her hand at swimming instructor, firefighter, seasonal laborer, and ultimately a very talented writer. I loved how she told the stories of a very diverse group of independent souls who have to depend on each other whether they like it or not. She says it’s Cabela’s vs R.E.I. Whether we are part of a small town or booming metropolis we all have to decide how we will live in society, and what we want that to look like. Small question with big answers.