Carmel Magazine

CM Summer 2014_Final

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Page 110 of 259

C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 4 109 foibles to something beautiful, sacred even, something like the Nor thern Lights. Treichel, in this col- lection, manages to make defeat look like the grace of God. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett N on-writers are often critical of writ- ers who publish memoirs that rep- resent their unique version of the story being told. As a writer myself, I would ask, what other version can we tell? Ann Patchett was criticized by the family of her dear friend, Lucy Grealy, for telling Grealy's story so soon after her overdose, for making her life and death detailed and nuanced and public. Having taught "Truth and Beauty" for the last decade, I speak for myself and roughly 100 students when I say this book is a beautiful, fitting tribute to a friend and a friendship. Patchett is most known for her wildly suc- cessful novels ("Patron Saint of Liars," "Bel Canto," "Magician's Assistant," "Run") but what she has achieved with this memoir of a friend- ship exceeds the best fiction. She's examined and celebrated the intersection of two lives, she's memorialized Grealy and made readers fall in love with her, and she's entertained the ques- tions of what it means to be a true friend and when and where that caring crosses into dan- gerous territory. When does friendship become co-dependence? To what lengths should any of us go to save a friend? "Truth & Beauty" is an exquisite, magnificent book. You won't want to put it down. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander I 'm not lying when I say this book changed my life. I snagged it off my husband's bedside table one night when I'd finished the book on mine. I was feeling overwhelmed by the complications of a busy life, the many factors that play on each of us every day. I was open to hearing something new, something promising, despite my usual skepticism of books with titles like this one. On the front cover, Christiane Northrup, M.D. had said this about it: "One of the most inspiring, practical, and uplifting books I've ever read. The very act of reading it with an open heart and mind will improve your health!" I was game. Well-written, smart and engaging, the book is filled with examples and anecdotes that illus- trate both writers' points. I'm not saying every single chapter spoke to me. The sections written by Rosamund were the ones I found easiest to assimilate, but Benjamin's chapter called "Giving an A" spoke to the teacher in me. The suggest- ed philosophy and practices work on you at the level of perception, changing the way you see the world, and opportunity, open versus closed doors and yourself in all of that. Particularly helpful to me were the chapters "It's All Invented" and "The Way Things Are." Even the simple graphic on page 110 had a profound effect on how I think. I dare you to look at it and not learn something. One friend to whom I'd recommended the book had a response as potent as my own. She and I started our own Art of Possibility Society. We shared positive news and perceptions via emails that we designated AOP in the subject line. We encouraged each other to refer often to the simple but profound wisdom of the graphic on page 110, and to let it inform our approach to challenges in our professional lives. Within a year, that friend and I had both rein- vented our respective professional lives, saying goodbye to jobs we'd loved for a couple of decades, aspects of which had become toxic. Whenever I feel myself sliding into a negative stance about life or work or the future, I pick up "The Art of Possibility" and reread it. So far, it's never let me down. These books can be found locally at River House Books in the Crossroads Carmel or Pilgrim's Way Community Bookstore in Carmel by-the-Sea. Melanie Bishop's young adult novel, "My So-Called Ruined Life," was recently released by Torrey House Press. Bishop brings to the Monterey Peninsula 22 years of college-level teaching in creative writing, and 18 years as founding editor of Alligator Juniper, a national literary magazine. She offers courses, writing retreats and editing serv- ices in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information, go to (Left) Ann Patchett's tribute to a friend was controversial when she released it. (Right) The Zanders' motivational bestseller.

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