Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the beginning, there was Marjorie Morningstar

Whenever I consider the state of publishing and how challenging it is to be a writer, I look back at what inspired me to write in the first place, what made me feel passionate about books. I always return to the first time I read Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk.

I remember how compelled I felt to devour every word of that huge novel. How I traveled with Marjorie as she plunged into a love affair with the illusive Noel Airman, a character who delivered passion, romance, and an endless challenge. A man Marjorie believed would give her everything she needed if only she could capture his heart and bring him to the altar. Her journey was my journey. Marjorie Morningstar was my fantasy and the fantasy of many other female writers who have confessed their passion for this novel.

Herman Wouk was and still is a storyteller. He followed no formula. His book was a love story set in the New York of the 1930s. Marjorie stood for every beautiful young woman who believes with all her heart that she is destined to be a great Broadway actress and the wife of her dashing ideal, in this case the handsome but flawed Noel Airman.

Wouk wrote masterfully for many years. He managed to surprise us over and over with not only Marjorie Morningstar but also The Caine Mutiny for which he won a Pulitzer. He also penned Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I met him once at UCSD. It was thrilling because I'd read almost everything he'd ever written. I believe he now lives in Palm Springs where he is still writing.

I long for Wouk's brand of storytelling. He was clever and unpredictable. He did not follow a modern paradigm of how you do it. So whenever I doubt my role in this universe, I return to my favorite novel, Marjorie Morningstar, to rediscover what it was that sent me on this journey in the first place.

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