I’ve been quiet lately, I know, and I’m sorry. But listen, guys, my first draft goes in in 10 days. I’ve been pushing all my hard-to-write essays until the end, and now here we are, 10 days away and they are all hard. Rather than reaching for a novel to comfort me, lately I’ve been turning to the letters and journals of the writers I love, hoping to glean some kind of writerly wisdom about this process which, so far, has been the most difficult and most exhilarating of my life. Sylvia Plath holds a particularly special place in my heart, because her childhood home was directly across the street from the house I grew up in. I spent many long hours staring at the window I imagined I was her bedroom. It seemed incredible to me—unbelievable—that such a simple box of a house, with its white clapboard siding and shiny black shutters could have contained a mind so enormous.
by Cara Nicoletti on February 13, 2014
The past few days I’ve been scouring my bookshelves looking for great literary romances to share with you. Of course there are hundreds, thousands, millions that I could have used, but I kept coming back to Theo and Pippa over and over again. Theo’s love for Pippa is one of the most devastating, most complicated loves I’ve ever read, it’s certainly not the kind of love you generally talk about on Valentine’s Day. Theo becomes fixated on Pippa the moment he sees her at the museum on the fateful day, and his obsession with her follows him throughout the rest of his life. Because of what happens at the museum the day he first sees her, Theo’s love for Pippa is bound up in his love for and loss of his mother, which is probably why the moments that he talks about Pippa are some of the rawest and most heart-stabbingly beautiful in the entire novel. I’ve compiled some of my favorites for you here, and yes, one of them does involve blueberry biscuits, which I highly recommend you make for anyone you love (including yourself).
by Cara Nicoletti on January 25, 2014
Two major things happen to the appetite when tragedy occurs—either it disappears completely or it is bottomless, gnawing, insatiable. After losing a friend in college, a boy whom I had loved since I was ten or eleven years-old, I was rabid with cravings for things I never ate or didn’t even know I liked—goldfish crackers slathered in yellow mustard, Little Debbie oatmeal cakes, Cadbury Cream eggs—things that turn my stomach to even think about now. In The Goldfinch, after Theo’s mother dies, he loses interest in food completely and has to be constantly hassled and reminded by Mrs. Barbour to eat. At breakfast she offers him blueberry muffins, cinnamon toast, oatmeal and waffles, but nothing appeals to him. “Food” he said, “tasted like cardboard; I hadn’t been hungry in weeks.” He loses so much weight that he has to report to the guidance counselor’s office every day to be weighed “on the scale she used for girls with eating disorders.” When he shows up at Hobie’s house Hobie asks Theo if he’s eaten.
I was too surprised to answer. Food was the last thing on my mind.
“Ah, I thought not,” he said, rising creakily to his big feet. “Let’s go rustle up something.”
“I’m not hungry,” I said, so rudely I was sorry. Since my mother’s death, all anyone seemed to think of was shoveling food down my throat.
“No, no, of course not.” With his free hand he fanned away a cloud of smoke. “But come along, please. Humor me.