The Last Trip of the Month

Headed to Los Angeles today for the Beverly Hills Literary Escape this weekend. On Friday night, there’s a cocktail party and Story Slam. So I have five minutes to tell a story to an audience. No notes. The story has to be on one of these topics: True Love, Revenge, or Home for the Holidays.  Judges will pick the best story. I’ve never done one before, but I love the idea of it. I got a little less excited when I realized the story had to be true. It’s much easier to make one up. The truth is so limiting.

Anyway, I have between now and Friday night to  figure out what story I want to tell.

Saturday I have a couple of panel discussions, and then Sunday we fly back.  And then, hallelujah, no flying or driving anywhere for a few weeks. I foresee some serious couch-sitting.

Oh, just as exciting as the conference this weekend, I finished Bleak House last night. It was fantastic–definitely my favorite Dickens. (Thanks, Debbie, for recommending it.) It’s a shame that it’s a billion pages and therefore can’t be taught to every school kid like A Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations. Alright, it’s a thousand pages. But that’s the same as a billion to a 15-year-old.  Dickens has such an amazing gift with character, with drawing people in a way that leaves you thinking you know them, you’ve met them. They are often a type, but rarely a stereotype. Very different. I laughed outloud dozens of times.

And, most of all, I was blown away by how he captured the commonality between the richest nobleman and the most pitiful street sweeper. How he underlines all that’s unjust in the old (and the new) treatment of the poor and uneducated. How there are both noble and hateful human beings in every class, on every street. How underneath arrogance and ridiculousness, sometimes there is nothing but arrogance and ridiculous…and sometimes there is gentleness and humanity and grace. How underneath dirt and ignorance and unpleasantness…well, same thing as above. Sometimes the interior matches the exterior. And sometimes it doesn’t. No one writes character better. And no one mirrors society better.

I want an “I Love Charles Dickens” bumper sticker.

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