Friday, January 2, 2009

Emily Dressler

The Day I Met an Author

When I was ten, I was obsessed with one author. Her name was Lurlene McDaniel and she wrote books about girls with cancer. They usually died. Every girl was beautiful, even in the throes of sickness. Often, they had gorgeous boyfriends. I devoured these books. I could finish one in a day. They were supposed to make you cry, I think, but I never did.

McDaniel was coming to a bookstore in Fairlawn and I forced my dad to take me. I was nervous about meeting her. I had never met an author before and I didn’t know if you were supposed to meet the people whose books you practically ate. I had been too privy to her private thoughts, and I wondered if it would be awkward to see her.

My dad agreed to take me there on the condition that I stop reading her books. He said I was getting to old for them. Everyone died in the books, I had told him, and I added how grown up that made them. I knew he was right, though. I could tell the books weren’t all that great. It was a guilty pleasure and I was ten. Before we left the bookstore, he bought me Sirens of Titan and Of Mice and Men. Talk about growing up fast.

Meeting her was actually a nightmare. My dad was the only dad there. This was before Borders had a coffeeshop, so he couldn’t even go there and wait. He had to sit there with me. He wasn’t going to, but all the moms were with their daughters, so he stayed with me. I don’t remember what she talked about. I remember that I was the only one wearing basketball sneakers. During the Q & A, my dad nudged me. He knew I had a question. I had asked him my question on the car ride there and he hadn’t been able to answer it.

I asked her why all the sick girls were pretty. I had a big gap in my front teeth, my left eye was lazy, my shoes were never tied, and my hair was an unruly mess of frizzy curls. I asked her if it made the sickness worse, made their death sadder, if they were beautiful. She said no, but her books said otherwise.

On the drive home, I told my dad I didn’t want to read her books anymore. She wrote about people living and dying (mostly dying), and she didn’t talk at all about the magic in anything.

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About Me

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I write short stories and essays. I have published over one hundred stories, essays, and flash fictions or nonfictions in magazines or anthologies, as well as a novel, Jack's Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts. I grew up in a military family, so I'm not from anywhere in particular except probably Akron, where I've lived for forty years. Before I came here, I never lived anywhere longer than three years.