I went to see crime writer, Sara Paretsky, speak at the library last night. She was engaging, warm, entertaining and interesting. And her passion for mixing a sense of social responsibility with her writing was infectious.
Why write? To communicate? To communicate what? Our story which we feel compelled to tell, that's often where people start. And, then, maybe, our view of the world, our questions and, perhaps, some of our solutions too.
Why read? Certainly not to be shouted at or lectured to. To be informed, to feel a kindred spirit, to be entertained. What Sara Paretsky manages so well is to interweave the political comment into a story which carries us along and enthralls. That's where her skill lie. It's one I'd like to emulate more.
In her new novel, Hardball, her detective, VI, becomes entangled with a group of socially active nuns, based on a real collection of activist nuns from Chicago. Her description reminded me of my time volunteering in New Orleans where I met the Caritas nuns, the first time I'd spent any significant time with women from a religious community. They impressed me greatly. They had been the first racially mixed order in the deep South and still lived in one of the poorest districts of the city, cheek by jowl with families beset by drug addiction, alcoholism, pitiful housing and lack of hope for the future. The nuns' commitment to quietly working for human justice, through their way of being and actions, was humbling. They also cooked me up the most delicious corn bread I ever tasted.