Sunday, April 22, 2007

Help Save Our Books... And Teresa Weaver

The AJC seems to think that as people migrate to the Internet, they won't be needing books. And thus they won't need a mighty fine literary pages editor, Teresa Weaver, either. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First off... I just started yet another new book, The Glass Castle (mavelous) just this afternoon. Imagine that. I read almost as much as I'm on the Internets, which is a hell of a lot. There's NEVER been a time in my life when I wasn't reading at least 2-3 books at a time. But bully for me.

What really, really pains me good about the AJC's decision to give-up on books is their decision to let go of the book editor, Teresa Weaver. Now that just makes me madder than a hornet. I want to personally go slap that She Who Must Not Be Named (Jule-ee-duh Wallace) silly for this one clueless-decision alone.

Here's where it gets personal... the first editorial I ever published was green-lighted by Teresa when she was on the op/ed pages at the AJC. (Since the AJC's archives were not cached on the Internet back then, I can't link you to it, although if I wasn't so lazy I guess I could create a PDF... maybe later.)

It was an essay really, not so much an editorial; one not unlike the latest memoir-of-a-really-wacked childhood work I'm reading today. At the time I wrote that first essay, I was organizing my (first and only) rather tres she-she wedding... all by myself as I had "the only mother in America" completely and utterly disinterested in a daughter's wedding details.

I wrote about how I once tried to engage my loopy mother in some girly-girl chit chat about dress styles and champagne cocktails, and she (Mom) merely sang opera to me over her end of the phone line, while screeching periodically at her numerous "damn cats" while she shooed them off her porch with her broom, way far away, so it seemed, out in the pine woods of South Carolina. Mom had never organized a damn thing in her life, and she wasn't going to, poof, suddenly morph into Martha Stewart just for her only daughter's Big City wedding. The thought of even driving to Atlanta scared the bejeezus out of her anyway.

I gave-up on trying to interest Mom in wedding planning, and merely let her attend the event au natural where she entertained the guests marvelously with her unique, loopy freestyle babble about growing organic eggplants and teaching illiterate country folk's kids South Carolina history, which she knows like the back of her long, elegant, aristocratic hands, even though she ignores her thoroughly blue-blood upbringing too, and is far more comfortable in her life as a peasant.

Come to think about it, Mom was never at all interested in my wedding or my lame attempt at marriage, and she hasn't really said much to me ever since the marriage failed, although I know it (the failure) hurt her more than it hurt me. She might pretend that divorce doesn't exist, but at least she never once lectured me about my gross shortcomings as a wife. For that alone I am immensely grateful for her MO of total disengagement.

To this day, writing that first essay helped me begin to work through a lifetime of confusion about my mother's, uh, detachment from the minutia of my life, and to come to terms with it and begin to learn to accept my mother for... well, for whatever she is! And "normal" she never was -- and never will be.

Teresa Weaver green-lighting that essay gave me the encouragement and the impetuous to begin to be whatever I was really meant to be; to start exploring, seriously, my own artistic inclinations, should I ever stumble across any. I started a blog about my life because Teresa Weaver once used to publish my essays. She thought they were interesting enough to print, and thus she gave me that desperately needed stamp of, yes, mainstream approval I required to move forward with non-fiction writing, no matter the platform.

Today, I can't stop reading, and that too is often because of a book Teresa reviewed at the AJC. But more importantly, on a deeply personal, visceral level... because of Teresa Weaver, I will never stop writing.

And now I've got to stop because I'm trying really hard not to cry in front of my kid... but others are able to do more than shed sentimental tears; there's a petition to Help Protect Atlanta's Book Review circulating online. Please sign when you can.


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