"Find a writer who has something American to say, and nine times out of ten you will find he has some connection with the Gargantuan abattoir by Lake Michigan- he was bred there,or got his start there, or passed through there when he was young and tender." (Henry L. Mencken/American Mercury 1933)
Mary Schmich has something American to say. She says it in her collection of columns, "Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now". The topics are as wide and varied as this nation.
There are columns about her mother, advice, loss and survival, family, Chicago, our world, and seasons, to name a few.There are also the ten columns that won her the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.
While the topics are broad and diverse, there is something more to this book. Indirectly, this is a book about love. Not only a love of people, places, or things.
This is a book about the love of writing, the love of words. Mary Schmich loves to write. She loves language. She loves the flow of words. She loves the structure, usage, and syntax. She pours that love onto the page. You feel that love every time you read one of her columns.
Schmich's articles are not written. They are crafted. Lovingly crafted. They are put together as carefully and with as much attention as an artisan's work. Her writing flows with warmth and calm.
The first sentence makes you want to read the second sentence. The first paragraph makes you want to read the second paragraph. On and on you continue reading.
Unlike other columnists, Mary Schmich does not talk to you, talk down to you, talk at you, or engender fierce debate or argument. She chats. The column is a conversation, a chat between friends. Friends who can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. She invites you in and you feel wanted. If you disagree you would never offend.
Writing a column for a major newspaper is a demanding task. You not only have to be good, you have to be good every single time. You must develop a base of readers. Readers starving for what you have to say. Readers impatient for the next column to come out. Readers who ask family, friends, fellow workers, and strangers on the El, "Didja see ______ t'day?" You have to throw red meat to those starving readers. That is real pressure. That is the kind of pressure that causes writers to seize up in a fetal ball of fear, desperation, and sometimes self loathing.
Mary Schmich writes as if the pressure does not matter. She just writes. She is more story teller than columnist. She does not practice the cold hard precision of many of her peers. She weaves a tale, entices you, and tempts you to keep reading. She loves her craft and shares that love with her readers. The love is her words, sentences, and paragraphs.
In the book's introduction Mary Schmich states that since 1992 she has written over 2000 columns. That is a lot of words. Those are a lot of stories. That is a lot of love to share.
Mary Schmich has something American to say. She says in in the Chicago Tribune and in her book, "Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now".
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