A Pair for a Pair

One thing leads to another – even in birthday gifts. This trail started when I bought A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty by Carolyn J. Brown at an author signing at an SCBWI conference for my two granddaughters who are turning sixteen this summer. Naturally, I wanted them to know Mississippi’s premier woman author. Carolyn’s title is taken from Eudora’s own quote in One Writer's Beginnings, “I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

In a short version of Eudora’s life at 144 pages, Carolyn gives a snapshot gleaned from Eudora’s own writings, other biographers, conversations with people who knew her, and other research. I enjoyed the nice overview of Eudora’s life and work as I pursued my habit of pre-reading the books I give my grandchildren for presents. About halfway through, it occurred to me that one can read biography and wonder what the subject would have to say if he/she was telling the story. In this case, that is possible. It came to me that the girls needed One Writer’s Beginnings as a companion book, also a short read at 114 pages.

The two books make a nice pair even for people who are not turning sixteen this summer. Each book provides something not found in the other. Eudora’s book, an inside view, gives her candid personal take on living and writing along with the feelings she had as life brought joys and sorrows. The reader gets a sense of sitting in her presence in an amiable chat session. Copyrighted in 1983, it leaves almost two decades of the end of her life uncovered.

Carolyn’s book, an outside view, uses some quotes from this book as well as Eudora’s other writings, adds views of people who knew her well, and covers the rest of her life. The two books make a nice duo. The only thing lacking is getting the two granddaughters here for a tour of the Welty home, restored as though Eudora had just stepped out for an afternoon walk. [www.mdah.state.ms.us/welty]

One of the granddaughters in her thank you note for the books thanked both her grandfather and me for the present, but added in parenthesis “I have a feeling that one of you had a bigger hand in getting it than the other.” I do love this girl and her sense of humor!