Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who cares what I have to say?

I haven’t quite answered this question yet, but when memoirist, Phyllis Theroux, hired me to archive 30 years worth of her personal essays, I considered it differently. The beauty and humor with which she writes about cockroaches, having a conversation with an elderly prostitute, not wanting to take out the trash, watching a snake eat a frog, raising three kids on her own and the life of a writer exemplifies the very idea of finding the universal within the personal. Alongside the columns indicating which articles had yet been scanned and filed, I was tempted to create a column for which articles made me laugh, cry or get goose bumps, most of which did all three. Phyllis has an impressive resume- The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Jim Lehrer Newshour, several amazing books, etc. - but even more impressive is her ability to hook the details of her life into the tapestry of the bigger picture.

Phyllis is a disciplined and prolific writer-- two adjectives anyone living a creative life aspires for-- but what I admire about her writing most is its deeper exploration and hence, elevation of common occurrences. Domestic life is not insignificant. Time spent on a train talking to a stranger does not simply vanish. Phyllis holds a magnifying glass to her eye, turning that ragged shard of glass into a prism. Rather than offering you a glass of water she leads you down the rocky, exquisite path to the ocean where she got it from. Luckily for the rest of us, Phyllis Theroux lives- and writes- an examined life. Luckily for my scanner, but sadly for my eager, endless appetite for her work, the files are complete.

Visit Phyllis Theroux's website, here.

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