two birthdays: a son's, a book's

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The most important thing about this day is that it marks my son's twenty-third birthday.  He came into the world after thirty-six hours of labor.  He had a full head of thick, black hair.  He reached for my husband's finger and squeezed it tight.  The next day, we drove him to my mother's house in a beat-up Ford Mustang—his hat still on despite the July heat.

There's no accounting for a mother's love.  There's no math that will contain it.  The baby became a boy became a kid became a man—so bright, so inventive, so funny, so adventuresome, so thoughtful, and with a raft of terrific friends, and with a future that seems (thanks to some recent interviews) so close and within reach, and with a talent for loving.

That boy traveled to Spain with me and my husband, several times, to visit my brother-in-law.  We together met characters like an old man named Luis, and like a count who raised Spain's prized fighting bulls.  We traveled out to a broad cortijo, watched the gypsies dance, sat front row at flamenco shows.  We ate paella at midnight on the streets, tapas in tiny bars.  We went in and out of bull rings and up cathedral towers and in between the narrow spaces of Seville.  We watched the nuns flutter by.  We saw children playing on rooftops.  And when I started to write a novel with all of this as the backdrop, this son of mine listened to me read out loud—this passage or that at the kitchen table.  He steered the ship with his spare comments and would not let me give up in the face of grave disappointments.  He said, "Believe in yourself."

I don't think there would be a Small Damages without this guy, and that brings us to birthday number two.  Small Damages, a book that has always been dedicated to my son, is being launched today.  That it is a book, that it has come this far, is all thanks to the extremely extraordinary Tamra Tuller, Michael Green, Jessica Shoffel, and Jill Santopolo of Philomel. That it has been welcomed into this world is all thanks to the generosity of readers and bloggers and reviewers and interviewers, whose goodness is unfathomable and restorative and redeeming and proof that maybe a girl can write and write and write and not be especially famous, but keep writing, and then have a moment in time like this one.

An unforgettable moment in time.

To all of you, and to my agent Amy Rennert, who has been there through all fourteen books, thick and thin (and so much thin), thank you.

Cake is now being served for all.

The icing is here, in these words from the great (truly great) Pam van Hylckama of and in this kindness from the ever-kind and supportive Serena Agusto-Cox.

From Pam:
It is not often that a book that makes you lose your breath. You read novel that makes you want to stand on top of a building and read the prose aloud to those walking below. Words that make you feel human and humble in the most gorgeous way.

If I could read Small Damages over and over again just like it was the first time I would never read another book again. This post is less of a review and more of a plea. Please go to your bookstore, or your library and bring this book home. Make yourself a glass of iced tea and sit in the sun and imagine that you too are in Spain and imagine the scents of Seville all around you while you read.


Serena said...

Congrats to all of you and happy birthday to your son.

bermudaonion said...

Happy birthday to your son! I thought Vance had a head full of dark hair but your son has him beat. Congratulations on your book!!

The1stdaughter said...

Such a wonderful post for a wonderful day. Congratulations and Happy Birthday to both you and your son. So so happy for you. And can I just say ditto to everything Pam said? Perfect. Such a great day!

Liviania said...

Congratulations! I think that's the most hair I've ever seen on a newborn - wow.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Congratulations, Beth, and Happy Birthday to your gift of a son and the gift of your beautiful book.

KFP said...

This picture of your son takes my breath away. He is just too beautiful.

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