The CBC's Dan Brown asks, "What do directors owe authors?"
Tina Modotti: I love her photography.
I read George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind in the sixth grade. We were supposed to write a book report on one of the texts stacked on our teacher's side table. And I picked this one--probably the most difficult one in the lot--because I fell in love with the beautiful cover illustration.
That book was difficult. Damn difficult--especially for one in the throes of her horse story/Sweet Valley phase. While reading it, there were many time when I wanted to throw the book at my bedroom wall in frustration. The gentle "flump" sound the book made colliding with the mattress beside me wasn't satisfying enough. It was painful, reading that book. As much as it could, that book should feel my pain, I thought.
"I hate this! Why does this have to be so hard?" I wondered. I suppose that's what I get for judging a book by its cover art!
But I got a lot more out of that book.
At the Back of the North Wind made a reader out of me--a real one. Navigating through each lovely turn of phrase (particularly those in the final chapters) taught me that the best novels make you work for it--everything you get out of the process. They give you the materials, the tools. They tell you, "Everything's here," but urge you to uncover, to explore (never excavate!) They tell you that what you make of it all should be a creative labour of love of your own.
As difficult a read as I found it, At the Back of the North Wind left me feeling more satisfied and even more moved than I had been with any other book (and I was the kid who wept when the horse in those old horse stories died [almost invariably]!)
In 1964, Susan Sontag wrote, "In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art." And in the Spring of 1993, At the Back of the North Wind taught me just how to love a book.
And then it disappeared.
I couldn't find a copy of the book anywhere and--perhaps worse--I couldn't even remember the author. I began to think I dreamt it up, invented the spectre that haunted me through the years.
But, only a few months ago, At the Back of the North Wind reappeared in my life. I found it on-line here and I can't wait to read it again (and now I know where I can eventually buy myself a much-desired copy, too!)
I recommend you all read it, too.