Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sob Stories

Is there anything more embarrassing than reading an emotionally moving book in a public place? I would rate it as only slightly less embarrassing than having a loud and inappropriate emotional response in a movie theater, like during TWILIGHT, when Edward sucked on Bella's hand like a puppy with a chewie, and I was the only one to laugh out loud.

But back to my point. Yesterday I was sitting at my daughters' gymnastics place finishing up my re-read of THE JOY LUCK CLUB, and doggone if Jing-Mei's reunion with her long-lost half-sisters didn't have me furtively sniffling and wiping my eyes. I'm sure the other parents thought, "For Pete's sake, lady, I'm sure your kid'll learn her cartwheel eventually." Actually, nearly half the stories in that book had me tearing up. Somehow, hearing family stories about my own great-grandmother dying fleeing the Communists never had the same effect, but maybe because Amy Tan wasn't telling them.

I do love a good tearjerker. This was the best since PEACE LIKE A RIVER. Making the reader cry is a tough thing for a writer to pull off, unless the reader is my sister. My brother-in-law claims that my sister is hard-wired: if anyone dies in a book or movie, no matter how terrible that book or movie, or even if we were making fun of it not thirty seconds prior, we will look over to find her face scrooged up and reluctant tears falling. I'm a tougher nut to crack, but I did cry buckets for Jung Chang's WILD SWANS and Elie Wiesel's NIGHT.

Are you a soft touch, or a virtual Cylon? What books made you break out the hankies?

1 comment:

  1. Well, your sister and I must share the same genes. I cried while watching Terminator II (I think it was that one) when Arnold lowers himself into the vat of boiling liquid and young John Connor loses his father figure and friend. Needless to say, it doesn't take much for me to cry. Actually, I don't cry at everyday life, but any book or movie that has any sad point (and don't they all...) and I am blubbering all over the place. My kids actually asked me to quit reading 'Bridge to Terabithia' out loud because they could not understand anything I was saying through my sobs. Guess that makes me kind of pathetic, or as you kindly say, "a soft touch."