The jaw-dropping life-inspiring woman who wrote this book (an older, unlikely, unfit and unhappy woman) Nuala O'Faolain died this week. She gave a heart-stopping interview few weeks ago, a radio interview in which she wept and ranted about her fate-- cancer, a few weeks, certain death.
She said this:
"WelI I am sick, but I am trying to say goodbye. So much has happened and it seems such a waste of creation that with each death all that knowledge dies.
I think there's a wonderful rule of life that means that we do not consider our own mortality. I know we seem to, and remember, 'man thou art but dust', but I don't believe we do. I believe there is an absolute difference between knowing that you are likely to die, let's say within the next year, and not knowing when you are going to die -- an absolute difference."Carol Shields, another of the Matron's favorite writers, died of cancer in 2003. The Matron remembers a shattering interview, in which the terminal Shields laughed about how she initially took comfort in her Pulitzer Prize. This, she thought, would grant her some degree of immortality, cheat death.
Then she went through the entire list of Pulitzer Prize winners and realized how very few she knew - how anonymous, how spent, how sand-like even the 'famous' were. She barely knew any of them. They were dust to her.
Read the transcript of O'Faolain's interview. Read her books, Are You Somebody and My Dream of You. Really. The Matron is smart that way -- you will be forever changed.
And when you're tempted to watch Lost instead of working on the novel, the poems, the art, remember this haunting line from a New York Times book review. The writer was reviewing the singular, slight volume of poetry a writer produced before she died of cancer at age 40 --a blazing talent with barely any work to her name.
So here are the lines the Matron tries to remember each morning:
"What will you do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver.
"Skip the party and write the poems" Can't remember from the Times Book Review.
My Dream of You is a perfect title. The dream's the ticket.