“Never let those that don’t like you become more important than those who love you.” ~ Unknown
If you recall yesterday’s post I said the day was full of awesome. The second part of awesome Friday involved Catherine Brereton’s reading from her MFA thesis at Wild Fig Books. Two years ago I was in Gurney Norman’s inaugural MFA class with many of Catherine’s MFA contemporaries. They’re all wonderful writers and beautiful people. Catherine, however, is extraordinary. That’s not coming from a place of friendship. That’s coming from someone who loves writing, and someone who is increasingly hard to keep focused if the story and its delivery isn’t just so. Some years ago she asked me to read one of her stories. It was beautiful, of course, but I was so focused on the intricacies of her sentences that I lost sight of the beauty in their weave. I told her I loved the work but I preferred short sentences. A fool thing to say. Reading her work over the years made a liar of me. I don’t prefer short sentences. I prefer good sentences. In truth, I’d become accustomed to reading mediocrity such that I was blinded by her brilliance. Catherine, through her generous spirit of letting me continue to peek at her works in progress, taught me that. She raised me up. That’s what good writing and good people are supposed to do. Her wordsmithing is at once grammatically superior and inextricably captivating. It doesn’t matter the subject, her stories will jump off the page, grab you by the throat, and hold you until the last printed period. After yesterday’s reading I was reminded that exceptional writers also tend to be exceptional readers. It’s not just her delivery on the page that’s exquisite. Her delivery to an audience elevates a story into an experience. That is a gift unto itself. A bad reading can ruin a good story. No one will ever be able to accuse Catherine of being a bad writer or a bad reader. Mark my words, Catherine Brereton, America’s adopted daughter, will be one of our most treasured writers before you can say “God save the Queen.” I am honored to call her friend.