Welcome to Day Two of my part in the blog tour stop featuring The 19th Wife and its author, David Ebershoff! Yesterday, I gave you my take on this book, so be sure to check that out if you haven't done so already. But today, it's the author's turn to have a little word.
First a bit about him. I lifted this information directly from his website:
David Ebershoff is the author of three novels, The 19th Wife, Pasadena, and The Danish Girl, and a short-story collection, The Rose City. His fiction has won a number of awards, including the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Lambda Literary Award, and has been translated into ten languages to critical acclaim. Ebershoff has taught creative writing at New York University and Princeton and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. For many years he was the publishing director of the Modern Library and now is an editor-at-large at Random House. He lives in New York City.
October, for me, has been an absolutely insane month! So, I wasn't able to get this book, The 19th Wife, read until just last week. That means I wasn't able to get questions to David in a timely manner, so instead, I asked him if he would be willing to do a guest post. Of course he agreed and sent the following inspiring story back to me:
About a month after The 19th Wife was published, I got an email from a man who told me he had heard me on the radio talking about the book and was now reading it. I thanked him and told him I hoped he would enjoy it. I love to hear directly from readers, and when someone tells me he or she is reading the novel I try to imagine the page they are encountering at that moment and how they might be responding. So when I received this email, I stopped to wonder if this man was reading one of Ann Eliza’s sections or Jordan’s? Only a few days later the man sent me another email, telling me he had finished the book and how much it had meant to him. He said that he had grown up in a prominent LDS family with ancestors who had been close to both Joseph and Brigham. When he was a boy, the man said, he had always been very proud of his heritage. He loved his church and its culture and the community of friends it brought him. When he thought of his future, he said, he thought of his life within the Church’s embrace. When he was a young man, he told me, he realized he was gay. This led to a rapid and complete unraveling of his world. He was, he said, forced to leave the Church. As he put it, the Church turned its back on him and so he returned the favor. A rift developed between him and his family. He decided to leave Utah. Not only was he leaving behind the people he loved, he was leaving behind his entire world. For the next twenty years, this man and his family were out of touch. He proceeded with his life as if they no longer existed. And then he read The 19th Wife. He told me the book reminded him of the LDS Church’s unique culture and its special role in American history. He said the book helped him recognize the complexities of faith. Ultimately he said the book reminded him that all families are imperfect and that sometimes those imperfections are the sources of love. Inspired, the man called his family. He told me he had begun to reestablish a bond he had thought could never be repaired.
When I hear a story like this I am humbled. The man concluded his email by thanking me, but the truth is I owe him, and all my readers, the thanks. I recently heard the wonderful writer Aleksander Hemon say that writing is like reading in reverse. When he reads he feels like he is in a private conversation with the writer, and when he writes he is in private dialogue with the reader. Readers make that two-way conversation possible. Readers bring books to life. Yet if no one turns the page, the story is doomed to the coffin of its pages. And so to all of you, I send my many thanks.
Thank you so much, David, for that great story! It's been fun for me to participate in this blog tour and I wish you all best luck for this book and all the rest to come!