Monday, May 19

Farewell to a master storyteller.

        I remember taking My Brother Michael out of the library. My mother didn’t like it much—I was twelve or so and she’d really have preferred I stay with Beverly Cleary and Betty Cavanna and Janet Lambert. I read them, too, at the first of the week, but I was a 10-book-a-week reader and the adolescent section wasn’t big enough for me. So, shelf-by-shelf, I made my way into adult fiction.

          These shelves are where I discovered romance. I read row after row of Emilie Loring, Elizabeth Seifert, and a whole platoon of Avalon and Mills & Boon authors. I knew, losing myself in those books, that I could do that. I could write romance.

          But then there was My Brother Michael. And Nine Coaches Waiting, This Rough Magic, and all the rest of the ones Mary Stewart wrote. When she segued into magic with the Merlin books, I went with her. When Disney made The Moon Spinners into a movie I watched it over and over.

          Do I remember the stories of these books?

          No.

          Do I remember how they made me feel each and every time I read them?

          Yes. Oh, yes.

          Mary Stewart made me, for the first time, aware of voice. She made me realize that not only was I enjoying the reading of her books, I was there. I was excited. I couldn’t put them down.

My husband and I laugh (he laughs harder) because I can’t “hear” music. I have no sense of rhythm, can’t keep up with clapping along with a song, can’t dance. But I can hear a writer’s voice, can dance to the tune she plays, can sing with her words.

I was right when I thought I could write romance. I kind of prefer women’s fiction much of the time these days, but it’s romance I go home to. I owe much to those authors on the adult shelves at the Akron Carnegie Public Library. Even more, I owe Mary Stewart for teaching me how to hear voice. Right down to the last comma.

Mary Stewart died May 9, 2014, at the age of 97. When asked once to categorize her novels, she said in part, “Can't I say that I just write stories? 'Storyteller' is an old and honorable title, and I'd like to lay claim to it."

The title is yours, Mrs. Stewart. It’s yours. Thank you for sharing it so long and so wonderfully. Rest in peace.


          

19 comments:


  1. Liz,
    Thanks for letting us know. I'd missed this somehow. I was a ten book a week reader, too. My mom had to get a library card so we could check out enough books to get me through the week.

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    1. We went twice a week--my mom read a lot, too. After while--it's a small town--I think they overlooked the limits sometimes. :-) Thanks for coming by, Pam.

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  2. Great post, Liz! I had never read a Mary Stewart (please, please don't revoke my Reader - or Writer - card because of that) until I saw a few tributes to her last week on Facebook...so I picked up a book this weekend and... *sigh* It was wonderful. Simple wonderful.

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    1. Wasn't she amazing? And that quote about being a storyteller--isn't that what we all want?

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  3. I'm like Kristi...haven't read her, but I must! I must! A storyteller, love that!

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    1. She was definitely that. I can't remember which were my favorites, but I'm going to start over.

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  4. I went through a Mary Stewart phase several years ago and just loved her books. I'm sorry to hear of the passing of a rare storyteller, but I know her books will live on. I definitely need to check out her books once more. It's been too long.

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    1. For me, too, Jana. I haven't even checked electronic prices or availability, but I think my Kindle needs them.

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  5. I remember reading her books when I was a teen. Sorry to see her go, but her books will live on.

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  7. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute, Liz! May we all be worthy of such an honor when our time is past.

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    1. Thanks, Delia. She's certainly deserving.

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  8. I can honestly say Mary Stewart's Merlin books changed my life. I still rank the series as one of my favorites of all time. I didn't know she'd passed ... nice to think she may now be sharing tales with other storytellers of the ages. Maybe they'll throw some inspiration our way. Lovely post!

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  9. Amen, Liz. You just told my story.

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  10. Beautiful, Liz. Simply beautiful

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  11. You will be amused to hear I own every Janet Lambert, every Mary Stewart (except the Merlin books which I don't care for) and about half of Betty Cavanna's work (she wrote under several names). Thank you for sharing your tribute!

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