word craft


Book Culture

PoppyOne of the cru­cial things that dri­ve writ­ers, I think, is the desire to be part of what I refer to as Book Cul­ture. This is the uni­verse of the book; writ­ing, read­ing, mak­ing, pub­lish­ing, book-sell­ing, libraries, edit­ing, design, marketing—and you can add much more to the list, I’m sure. If you were a very young read­er, as I was, you grew up amidst var­i­ous aspects of this world. I sup­pose I could start with the pic­ture books my moth­er read to us night­ly when kids, to the gift of a book (always) on birth­day and Christ­mas, the local library. I decid­ed to become a writer when I was a teen-ager. In a diary I kept when a high school senior (1955) there are long lists of the books I was read­ing. But there is also the title of a play I wrote which I list­ed between Ibsen’s Ene­my of the Peo­ple and Dylan Thomas‘ Por­trait of the Artist as a Young Dog, with the par­en­thet­i­cal note (“That’s nice to put down.”)  In oth­er words, I was plac­ing myself among great writ­ers. Yes, a seventeen-year-old’s fan­ta­sy, but that was the world of which I wished to be a part. So when a friend sent me The Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties “Sum­mer Book­list for Young Read­ers,” updat­ed for the first time since 1988, it was fun to see, wedged between Hans Chris­t­ian Anderson’s Fairy Tales and Natal­ie Babbitt’s Tuck Ever­last­ing, my book Pop­py (illus­trat­ed by Bri­an Flo­ca). Just as in 1955, it’s nice to be a part of that world.

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