For River and Inara
Bookworms of the world, I would like your help in making this gift for my disabled daughter and her sister. (It doesn’t cost a penny, and it will take only a few moments.)
As my family tumbles from one medical issue to the next and my youngest daughter’s situation remains serious, I oscillate between wanting to dig a hole and scream into it until my throat is hoarse like the railroad workers in Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men … and wanting to book a long Pacific cruise, which would arguably be more productive though also prohibitively more expensive.
Instead, as I look for a way to channel and direct all of my anguish, fury, helplessness, and fierce need to protect in the face of my daughter’s ongoing illness, I think I’ll ask everyone to help me make this gift for my daughters.
I have said that no matter how bleak things may appear, one thing that we can celebrate with our whole hearts is our access to nearly unlimited stories, that in an often-dark century, that is our single greatest “Wow,” an advancement our ancestors could not have imagined.
I believe that.
For that reason, I want to collect a little Library introducing my daughters to so many books. Not just any books, but books that people care deeply about. These can be young adult novels, novels for older readers; they can be any genre, from the suspenseful to the gruesome to the romantic to the fantastical to noir. It doesn’t really matter. Because chances are, some day, my daughters will want to read something from any or all of those. And one day, they and I and their mother will read this page together. If our Inara is still mostly blind, we will read this page to her.
Growing the Library of Pages
I would like to collect a few … no, dozens … no, hundreds … no, thousands … of quotations from novels for my daughters. I want to make a Library of Pages and a digital zoo that is jammed full of roaring, laughing, giggling, weeping, and whispering stories. It would be easy to find lots of random quotes online, but I want this Library to be a library of quotes that mean something to many readers who we know or who know my books or who know my daughters, or readers who know those readers. (If you are a novelist, I ask only that it not be a quote from your book, but from another book you treasure.)
I want it to be a gift rather than a Google search. That makes it personal, that makes it real.
So here is what I am asking you to do:
1. Read the story of my little Inara (if you’d like to), which you can do here and here — or watch the epilepsy awareness video about Inara that my wife made. You can also meet my older daughter, River, by scrolling down to the middle of this interview; River, who is nearly four, is fiercely protective of her sister.
2. Type a favorite quote from one of your favorite novels into the Comments below, and tell my daughters where the quote is from.
3. Share this page with other readers you know, so that this Library of Pages can grow more and more vast, until its trees with their page-shaped leaves tower over my girls as a mighty shelter and a wilderness of wonders they might explore.
And it will be special to them because they will know that all of you heard their story and grew this library forest for them, one quote at a time, that this forest was the touch of many caring hands and minds.
Thank you for being a part of this.
Yours in truth and fiction,
UPDATE: A LEATHER-BOUND COPY OF THE LIBRARY:
I have been touched at the level of response to this Library, and I’ve begun copying the Library into an old leatherbound journal that I’ve had at hand waiting for the right purpose for its existence. If, when Inara is older, she remains mostly blind, I will create a Braille copy for her. I’m pretty good with a Braille writer.