Uncategorized Margie Klein, guest blog: “You Can’t Write if You Don’t Read”

Margie Klein, guest blog: “You Can’t Write if You Don’t Read”

You Can’t Write if You Don’t Read

To me, writers were just names on covers. Until I fell in love with Edgar Allen Poe.  This wasn’t my crush on Tommy, who wore his jeans low and spit-curled his hair in a slow curve over his Clearasil’ed forehead.  This was true passion–for a writer.
A very dead writer, which made Poe all the more romantic.  No more would he pen (and I was sure it was a plumed pen, taken in hand by candlelight in the dark recesses of night) the lush verses that I committed to memory, the horrific tales that captured my darkest imagination.  Alas, alas!
I was nuts for the guy.  Even now I get retroactive palpitations.  I know.  He looks pretty hokey today, and I don’t think I would voluntarily wade through “The Fall of the House of Usher” again.  But, as convoluted and archaic as the language now seems to be, that’s what sucked me in, in the first place: his language.
Language.  Compelling plots.  Complex characters.  Evocation of time and place.  Flashes of insight.  Poe did that for me, spoiled me, made me seek those things in everything I’ve read since.  Sometimes I find one or two of those qualities in a book.  That’s good; I’ll read on.  Three, four or more and I’m in love. In high school I found all of the above in John Steinbeck, whom I adored until he made me Travel With Charley.  Then he lost me.  The old magic was gone. 

My reading eye began to wander.  In college I became promiscuous, flitting from one to another: D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Wolfe, Hermann Hess, Dorothy Parker, Tolstoy, Katherine Anne Porter, Dostoevsky, and even–God help me–Ayn Rand.  I loved them all, even though I’m sure I missed a lot of what they were saying.  Without much depth of life experience, it was difficult for me to relate.  Poor, poor Anna Karenina, I’d sigh—but I really couldn’t tell you why. As much as I loved to read, that’s how much I loved to write.  It seemed so preposterous, so presumptuous, to even dream of being one of Them.  It never really crossed my mind to call myself…a writer.
Marjorie Klein’s first novel, Test Pattern (Wm. Morrow Publishers, 2000; HarperCollins/
Perenniel 2001, now an e-book) was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers”
selection.  Her creative nonfiction has appeared in various publications, including 20
years of free-lance work for Tropic, the Miami Herald’s former Sunday magazine. She
received her MFA from Florida International University.  Recipient of a Florida
Individual Artist Fellowship, she has taught at the University of Miami, Florida
International University, Warren Wilson College, University of North Carolina at
Asheville’s Great Smokies Writers Program, and served as a preliminary judge for the
National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.  She has completed another novel,
Shifting Gears, and has begun a new one.  (www.marjorieklein.com)