bookshelves by David

It is particularly fun (and scary) to have your book group read YOUR novel

"Disappeared in America" at Western New England School of Law

Three new novels that tell (the) truth

Robby's wildflower garden

Celine Keating, Elizabeth Nunez, Tiphanie Yanique, Ellen Meeropol, Marnie Mueller

I didn't take any photos this week; this one is the fiction writing group from a few years ago

Robby with Jenn


Books and imaginary friends

May 2, 2012

Tags: Writing, imaginary friends

Like many of you, I read a lot – several books a week. I choose them for different reasons. Some to admire and learn from. Some because of commitments to my two book groups, including the group I lead at the Odyssey Bookshop. Some because the author is a friend, or perhaps a Facebook friend. I read advanced reading copies (ARCs) as a member of the First Edition Club selection committee at the bookstore. I love novels that tackle big political/ethical/moral dilemmas and I look for those, but sometimes a totally different kind of book will choose me and surprise me.

That’s what happened with Matthew Dicks’ Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, which I picked up from the wobbling piles of ARCs on the kitchen table at the bookstore. I met Matthew last year when we were both invited to participate in the wonderful Books on the Nightstand readers’ retreat in Manchester Center, Vermont. I picked up this ARC (the book will be published in August) because I’d met Matthew and because the title intrigued me. I admit it took me a few pages to believe in the voice of his main character – an imaginary friend named Budo – but soon I was hooked. The premise of the story is simple and clever, and the observations of a character who doesn’t really exist (or does he?) about his parallel world, and about our “real” world, are tender and thought-provoking. Dicks’ writing drew me into the universe of his novel and I lived there for a delicious couple of days.

As a bonus, throughout this novel, I thought about the imaginary friend I had as a child. Her name was Mrs. Callipygean Cannickean. For several years of my childhood, I simply had to look up and to the right, and there she would be, hovering in a corner, up by the ceiling. Matthew Dicks' novel made me wonder why I let her go. I spent some time missing good old Callipygean and wondering if it might be possible to get her back.

And then, in a eureka moment, I realized that’s exactly what characters are – our imaginary friends. When we read, they provide excellent company. When we write it's even better: they hang out with us, talk to us, and listen (sometimes) to our ideas. No wonder I love reading - and writing - fiction.