Monday, January 28, 2008

Maggie Davis "The Book That Changed My Life"

Art Department Chair Maggie Davis shares several books.

"There are three books that had a lasting impact on my life. Two revolve around water, one released the writer within.

The Phantom Deer, author escapes me. I was about 10 when I checked it out of the Sayville Public Library on eastern Long Island, my refuge from home. I checked it out because there was a hand colored photograph of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys. The bridge spans seven miles over the most beautiful azure blue water I had ever seen. The story was captivating, about a young boy who finds an orphaned Key deer and raises it then releases it. The word images of the Florida Keys captured my imagination. I thought they must be the most perfect place on earth and it set up a longing to go there one day. Which of course I did, long after the book had been returned and I had grown up.

Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. I was in my 20's when I read it. Having grown up on Great South Bay and the north Atlantic, spending time with my father fishing on the rock jetties on Fire Island, Hemingway's description of the struggle of this fisherman rang true for me as a young person. The story recognized the power of nature and the fragility of life, something that has been a life theme in my work as an artist.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (just celebrated 20th anniversary of the publication of this book). I collect books about writing but never thought I was a writer until I read Nate's book. Read it cover to cover on a flight from Miami to New York City. When I got off the plane I knew I wanted to be a writer. I took the book with me to the Metropolitan Museum and followed her writing practice while sitting in the Temple of Dendur. I spent the day writing in different rooms of the msuseum, stopping only when my stomach was growling loud enough to be noticed by passers-by. That book led me to study with Natalie in New Mexico on a sabbatical 2004-05. I started a writing group using her technique. We self-published a small volume of stories and poetry called " Evenings at Lily's". Lily was my white standard poodle who listened patiently to all the many stories that unfolded in my living room that winter and spring.

And then there is A Death in Venice by Thomas Mann; The Time it Takes Falling Bodies to Light by William Irwin Thompson and many more "change my life books", books that kept me breathing when I didn't really want to. To this day I still look forward to bedtime when I can curl up with plump pilows, soft light and the "I can't wait to get back to that book" on my night stand (currently The Prince of the Marshes, Rory Stewart which I will donate to the library when I am finished)."

Many thanks to Maggie Davis for sharing her thoughts with us. If you're interested in writing a post about The Book That Changed Your Life, please e-mail Librarian Barker:

No comments: