Each Thursday in honor of #TBT, I feature a book that I truly love, that helped shape me as a writer, as a woman, as a human.
I love short stories. I love reading them, I love writing them. Doing both is how I taught myself to write. When I first saw this week’s title seven years ago I knew I had to buy it.
It is “If I loved you, I would tell you this” by Robin Black. The title alone grabbed me but then the writing. Oh, the writing and the characters and their stories. Well, I knew immediately that it would be placed on my Permanent Bookshelf. They are exactly the kinds of stores I long to write—honest explorations of what it means to be human.
Ron Carlson once said that literary fiction is about the complications of the human heart. That’s what these stores explore with such grace and depth.
Today happens to be the 7-year anniversary of this book’s publication. I’ve read everything she’s written since including the novel “Life Drawing” and a collection of essays on writing and life, “Crash Course.” Honestly, I’d read her grocery list. And once I learned that she was 48 when her first story collection was published, my writer crush was solidified. As a writer approaching 52, I yearn for role models of women who didn’t give up, who started late, who set their voice loose into the world. Robin Black is absolutely that role model for me. My writing bucket list includes taking a writing workshop with her.
(As a bonus, there’s a great conversation between Black and Karen Russell at the end of the book.)
A sentence I underlined: Every once in a while. though, that softening patina an extra glass of Chianti can give, that velvet cloth it lays over every jagged edge, evokes a kind of humble gratitude in me.