Hi from lovely, although not sunny, Florida. I’m here in Fort Lauderdale for the Broward Library Foundation’s Literary Feast, which begins tomorrow with two packed days of programs. But this afternoon I had a chance to enjoy the view from the balcony of my room at the Hyatt Pier 66, overlooking the Atlantic, and a fleeting few moments of sun.
A lovely lady from the Friends of the Library took me for a welcoming drink at the Pelican Landing. We hoped to see the sun set, but it was too cloudy. I did, however, enjoy the Pelican Punch, and I got a great shot of the bridge opening over the Intercoastal Waterway.
Tomorrow I’m speaking to five hundred high school students, so I’m hoping they will be kind, and that the sun will shine.
With apologies to Alice Sebold, I have to admit that I have not read The Lovely Bones. My reading tends to be patchy at best–I usually get around to bestsellers after everyone else on the planet has read them. But I think I deliberately avoided The Lovely Bones, in print and film, because, although my daughter is no longer a teenager, the premise of the book played on the worst of my unvoiced and only partially acknowledged fears for her when she was the age of the heroine in the story.
Then, tonight, watching the Oscars, I saw the clip where Stanley Tucci, playing Mr. Harvey, lures Susie into his underground den in the cornfield, and I had the most bizarre flashback. I had a recurring nightmare as a small child. We lived in the country then, with pasture in front of the house and a creek with steep banks that curved around three sides in the back. In my dream, I was walking along the creek when I discovered a fireplace-like opening in the side of the bank. Curious, I went in, and found myself in a cozy underground room. There were small, bald (sorry, Stanley!) gnome-like men who invited me to tea. And then–the worst horror my four or five-year-old mind could conjure–ate me. (Yeah, I’m sure the psychologists could have lots of fun with that. And this, of course, was the point at which I would wake up screaming.)
Years later, when I read the Narnia books for the first time, I thought that the bankside den of my dream was a little like a warped version of Mr. Tumnus’s home. But now I see that the set designer for The Lovely Bones must have had a sneak pass into my subconscious, because Mr. Harvey’s den was snatched whole right out of my dream.
How very odd, and a little unsettling. Do children come equipped with an atavistic fear of caves? Some sort of Jungian archetype, perhaps? Silly, maybe, but I’d just as soon not revisit my own particular childhood demons. But I may have to read Alice Sebold’s novel.