05-24-2007 05:00 PM
One of the reasons I love book clubs is because their members still believe in fiction. So many people don't. If you think I'm wrong, try writing a novel about the host of America's number one morning show and then count the number of times the name "Katie Couric" comes up.
Rise and Shine isn't about Katie. It isn't even really about TV, although the grenade of an event that sets off the action of the novel happens on-air. It's about the disconnect between appearance and reality, about the difference between how our lives look to those on the outside and how they feel when we're actually living them.
That's a subject I've thought about a lot, as a novelist, a columnist, and the mother of three children. If we have so much, why aren't we more satisfied? Does success need to be redefined by satisfaction of spirit rather than by power of resume?
Those are some of the issues that confront Meghan and Bridget Fitzmaurice as the elder sister's brilliant and very public career implodes and the younger is left to hold everything together. The sister gambit made the deepest sentiments of the novel easy to explicate. There's no more obvious person to speak truth to a powerful woman than her sister.
It was also easy, and obvious, for me to set this story in New York City, where I have been a reporter since I was 19. As one of my newspaper friends said, "You've been saving material for this one for years." But the truth is that the material I'd been saving came more out of what I'd learned about myself than what I'd learned about the city streets. "Fiction has, and must keep, a private address," Eudora Welty once said. And it takes root mostly in private places.
05-31-2007 04:08 PM