Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Magic of Alice Hoffman


On Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a virtual book event for Alice Hoffman's latest, The World That We Knew. I love how Ms. Hoffman works magical realism--if not outright magic--into her stories, and this one is no exception. And she seems like a very nice person :-)

Here are a few short takeaways:

Themes of the book include affirmation of life, but also how the tolerance of aberrant behavior often leads to terrible things. It is a fable of feminism and fantasy, a novel ultimately about mothering, especially in times of crisis. She also referred to the book as a "deadline" novel in which the characters must move fast and cannot take time for granted.

She attributes her success at so masterfully intertwining storylines in part to the fact that she is an admittedly bad knitter. Like knitting, writing can be complicated, but you still have to get the threads right.

Storytelling is sometimes seen as a lesser achievement, but Alice sees it as the female way, passing down stories the way her grandmother and mother did for her. 

Fiction tells the truth on an emotional level. It's about feeling, whereas non-fiction is often about thought.

She starts a book with a question, i.e. how did people survive a terrible time? Then she creates the world so the characters can walk in. Eventually, as all characters do, they will let her know where the story should go.

Simple enough, right? I thought the book was wonderful and wholeheartedly recommend it.

Take care, and I'll see you next time!

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