Friday, December 27, 2013

What Goes Around Comes Around ?

Christmas comes around every year as do most holidays and Holy days. Many put their Christmas trees curbside before the New Year ushers in, but Twelfth Night is actually the close of the Christmas season. Originally an Elizabethan festival, the name Twelfth Night is also a reference to the 12th night after Christmas, called the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. After Shakespear's play, Twelfth Night, adaptations eventually appeared in the twentieth century on stage, in radio, and in film. So yes, it continues to come around.
My French-Canadian grandparents celebrated Little Christmas every year on January sixth, The Feast of Epiphany. It also holds special meaning for me as my fourth child, a son, was born on that day. In keeping with the Epiphany feast I will be serving a Tourtier (meat Pie) on twelfth night. So, yes, customs do go around and come around.

Will trends in writing do the same? I have my doubts, but themes do keep reappearing in fiction: coming of age, redemption, healing, etc. to name a few, and authors do put a different spin on these themes.
I recently read Stella Bain , a new novel by Anita Shreve; an author I admire.The novel is the story of an American woman who is injured in Northern France during World War 1. She has lost her memory and doesn't know what has brought her to this foreign war. Eventually she reconstructs her life with the help of a British surgeon. To quote the fly leaf of the book,"Together they begin to unlock a disturbing history - of deception and thwarted love, violence and betrayal." The story line takes you from France to England to the US and back again.The author's omniscient point of view goes along fairly smoothly without author intrusion through the first half of the book, but interest wasn't  sparked for me  until  letters reveal the protagonist's life with her children in New Hampshire and a court trial begins. Then it became exciting , but I found the transitions at times a little choppy and confusing. The ending was a short summation that was disappointing. I was surprised about this book because so many of Anita Shreve's novels were enjoyable for their plots, style and memorable characters. I'm revealing  my reaction to her novel out of wonder if author's works lose their luster or do they continue to spin glorious stories with age old themes?

Caroline Gordon, a prominent literary figure in the nineteenth century, wrote a memorable quote: "A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way."  That is certainly something we all strive for,isn't it? Both readers and writers.

Another author I can mention does not  fit the title of what goes around comes around, but, Norman Maclean began writing fiction after he retired from the University of Chicago. At age 73 his novel,
 A River Runs Through was published. I like his quote: "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." Coincidentally my writing life began after I retired from the State University of New York and my first novel was published  in my twilight years also. Kindred Spirits are not so scarce as I used to think!

In a few more days the New Year will begin. I wish all readers and writers a year filled with happiness, success and joy and I close with another quote by William Arthur Ward.
 "The pessimist complains about the wind;the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Mary,

A meaty, thought-provoking post.
It seems as though holiday celebrations like themes in literature do reoccur.

Susan Oleksiw said...

An interesting discussion. I do think some themes are eternal--finding one's place in life, overcoming obstacles, developing character in facing challenges, and the like. Humans will never stop caring about love and friendship and justice. I also think that sometimes very successful writers can show signs of wear and weariness in their later books. I hope Anita Shreve gets a rest and gets back on track.

Mary F. Schoenecker said...

Thank you for your comments Jacquie and Susan. It is interesting how themes re-occcur with different images and styles

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Happy New Year to you, Jacqueline, and thanks for sharing your wisdom with others.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Nancy,

Happy New Year to you as well. We are a group of writers who hope to offer some thoughts and ideas helpful to both fellow writers and readers. As of now we are: Bonnie, Mary, Susan, and myself, Jacqueline.
We'll have new blogs and author interviews in 2014. So Happy New Year everyone!