(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity on Tuesdays through the year. Hosted by Two Writing Teachers, we look for the small things in life to write about. You write, too.)
I can’t help but think of Slice of Life when I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In fact, someone in Slice of Life may have recommended her first book – Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life — and if that was you (was it you?), thank you, you. I love that book, and have read it more than a few times (which is not something I often do with books. I am a one-and-done kind of reader, unless something resonates, and then I am loathe to lose that book or lend it out to anyone).
So, imagine my happy surprise to be wandering through our city library and there before me was a brand new book by Amy. It’s called Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Just like her other book for grown ups (she writes children’s picture books, too), this one is a gem, filled with wonder of small moments and an underlying sense that this Amy is one warm and endearing person who sees the world through a lens of insight and humor. (She’s the kind of writing who bakes an apple pie and ships it FedEx .. just for being the 100th person to respond to a prompt … that’s a writer who cares about her audience).
Check out her talk about her rather impromptu collaborative project The Beckoning of Lovely
The gimmick of this book is that is a “textbook” — sections are set to resemble those college tomes of yore, titled “history” and “science” and “math” — but the writing is focused on life itself (one math equation is all about love), and Amy’s life (her remembrance of an uncle beloved by many brought me nearly to tears), and the shared essence of all our lives. Oh, and the other part of the gimmick? There are moments in the book where you are invited to “text message” with a bot set up by Amy and her friend. Really.
I know it’s weird but I found myself enjoying my texting with the AmyBot very much. Part of me wondered, will Amy read these texts some day? Does it matter? The responses were whimsical and lovely, and some led me to her website where I could hear her reading or see images of other readers or take a poll (I chose Curly) or … listen to her selected music as I read the last section of the book, which ended on the theme of endings, with a very creative assortment of endings of other novels.
In the midst of the CLMOOC Pop-Up Make Cycle for Digital Writing Month, this kind of book – the ones that offer an invitation to the reader to engage in digital media — makes me wonder: is THIS digital writing? Even though her book is paper and bound (in my version anyway), the author’s extension and invitation to engage with our phones and on the web as we read her words, to add to a collective gathering of other readers in a community setting and to be part of the “story” that Amy is telling … that seems to have many of the hallmarks of what I consider Digital Writing. I’d love to know what you think. You can leave a comment at this post. I don’t have a KevinBot set up for this.
Here at Slice of Life, we try to do what Amy does. We see small but envision big. The moments that too often slip past our vision — those are the ones I try to write about when I write my Slice. Others do, too. What you realize that only when you start to actively notice the world, in all of its smallest pieces curving in an arc around all of us, is the point when you realize how consequential everything really is. Nothing deserves to be forgotten, but we forget so much. So much of our lives gets lost.
Amy’s books can feel at times like short-attention-theater. She brings us into a moment, and then it is gone. Poof. But the outline of her moments are small works of art, painted with a sense of kindness and wonder and generosity. How lovely is that? How much do we all need more of that? Much. We need much much more.
Thank you, AmyBot. Thank you, Amy.
Peace (it’s me, world),
So I got the first book to read and am looking forward to it. Thanks. I appreciate how you turn this post back to the topic of slice of life and so so with such voice.
Peace (it’s me world and Kevin)
I felt the same way when I read this book. Another friend didn’t like it at all. I was like, “Maybe you don’t get it.” She didn’t appreciate my tone. I think I might start sending a Maine lobster to every 100th commenter.
Just downloaded samples of both books. Thanks friend!!!! Loving this digital world 🙂
Your post hit a nerve. Last night my son and i were talking about the end of the print age, or as Will Self calls the Guttenberg mind. I think you’ll find this article interesting.
Thanks for share, Kevin. I’ll add Amy Krouse Rosenthal to my to-read list. I’m also a fan of the digital augmentation of print that you explore in the latter half of your slice; I don’t (yet) see these two media as mutually exclusive.
Well, I’m not the one who recommended the book to you, but you have piqued my interest! I just downloaded the samples from Amazon…not that I don’t have a long, long list of books already! Thanks for sharing, Kevin!
“Is THIS digital writing?” Crap. That’s turning out to be the question of the year. But I can’t wait to read and to play with the bot….
More books to check out…These sound thought provoking and fun! I always learn so much from you. Thanks!
Definitely helpful post. I really loved it. Actually, I felt the same way once I scan this book. Another friend didn’t like it in any respect. I was like, “Maybe you don’t get it.” She didn’t appreciate my tone. I think I would begin causing a Pine Tree State lobster to each one-hundredth commenter. Whatever, Thanks for sharing.
Well, to each their own. Glad someone else out there experienced the book and had some thoughts. Thx