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I looked through our bookshelves

12 September 2019

I looked through our bookshelves and I saw that Sarah Payne looked only a little bit like her jacket photo; I had read her books. And then I remembered being at a party with a man who knew her. He spoke of her work, saying that she was a good writer, but that she could not stop herself from a “softness of compassion”that revolted him, that, he felt, weakened her work. Still, I liked her books. I like writers who try to tell you something truthful. I also liked her work because she had grown up on a run-down apple orchard in a small town in New Hampshire, and she wrote about the rural parts of that state, she wrote about people who worked hard and suffered and also had good things happen to them. And then I realized that even in her books, she was not telling exactly the truth, she was always staying away from something. Why, she could barely say her name! And I felt I understood that too.

~  Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton

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