“A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.
It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.”
Words in a Jewish Theological seminary-quoted by
Anne Lamott in her book-
Traveling Mercies- Some thoughts on Faith.
As fall comes, the last phase of the year, when one can go and read in the open is drawing in. Have been discussing with my son, some great works and life lessons from them. As part of that series, we went through the basic premise of Professor Fears, in his Great Course, that a great book should
1-Have a great theme
2-Be in Noble language
3-Speaks across the ages
4-Talks to you individually
RIVERWOOD REFLECTIONS..Applying the above criteria to “Requiem” of Frances Itani, which was the book chosen for the One-Book-One-Mississauga to observe Canada 150, it does have a great theme and talks to you individually, with characters addressing sensitive themes.
The One Big Question:
Frances Itani was in the Central library of Mississauga, discussing and reading from her book. She told of how she started preparing for the book by interviewing persons who had been part of the internment of Japanese Canadians. She listened to Beethoven for four years. Her son is a professional musician who helped her in choosing the musical themes. She told of how she put a neighbor’s dog- Basil in the book and her research on stroke, which was what Lena died of.
Each work should have one big question, which will guide the different themes.
The one Big Question for Requiem was- Where is the Anger going?
The creative process
Another interesting insight she shared was of a fellowship she did in a castle in Italy. The fellowship is given only to creative people.
She had 4 writers, 4 composes and 4 artists in her group.
RIVERS…The book tells about the travels of the artist. Following water bodies.
From Requiem: The young man was following the great rivers of Europe.He had a sketch pad in his pack, the usual supplies, and he was trying to capture something he could not quite put a name to, some understanding of the rivers he encountered. Something lost, perhaps, or something not yet found.
Reading group questions
1-Relate to some rivers –water bodies which have had an impact on your life
2-What was the big question in Requiem
3-Discuss Requiem under the headings of Professor Fears’ criteria of a great work
4-How did Itani bring out the greater meanings of Bin’s life in the book? Discuss this under the theme- of the quote in the beginning of the blog “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.”