It’s a warm, clear September day. I’m sitting on the deck, talking to my sister on the cell phone. She’s just finished reading Harlan Coben’s first Young Adult novel “Shelter.” (It’s the genre. Not wishful thinking). We’re discussing intricacies and details relating back to some of his other thrillers, amazed at the connections between them. I use the word “brilliant” and am not exaggerating in the least.
“I just admire him,” I say to her, speaking of Mr. Coben. For emphasis: “I have such deep admiration for him.”
My sister agrees. I can almost see her nodding.
The words seem to linger.
And there it is.
All of a sudden, it makes sense.
You see, I’ve been a Stephen King fan. I’d crawl back into bed on Christmas morning with his latest novel, always looking forward to a good yet creepy read. I followed Mark Purdy’s sports columns in the San Jose Mercury News when I lived down there. More recently, I’ve read and enjoyed books by Nicholas Sparks, Kristin Hannah, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, John Grisham.
But feeling such admiration for a writer is not something I’ve done.
Not since my dad.
It seemed to be something that was reserved for him. At least as far as my emotions were concerned. I held my dad in the highest regard as a writer. He was the best I knew. And then after his stroke, his written words ceased, and he began “taking notes in his head” as he liked to say. My sister and I could go back to his old columns if we wanted to revisit his words, his strong yet unwavering opinions, his perspectives. There were no new written words. They seemed to be suspended in air. We missed them. We longed for them. We hoped for them.
So maybe that’s what’s happening here.
We’ve found an author who weaves stories, characters and words together so skillfully that we are eager to read more. We talk about characters like we hang out with them, we wonder openly about questions that haven’t been answered, we lament the fact that we have to wait for another book. Yesterday after I hurriedly finished Mr. Coben’s second Young Adult thriller “Seconds Away,” I immediately dialed my sister to talk through it.
It’s become something we can share. We don’t have to go back to the old. We anticipate—with great enthusiasm and excitement— the new.
In 18 days we’re heading back to the East Coast. My 9-year-old has a few things he hopes to do:
1. Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
2. See the Statue of Liberty.
3. Buy some authentic Yankees paraphernalia (please, nothing A-Rod).
Here’s my list:
1. Cross the Finish Line in Central Park.
2. Enjoy lots of cousin time.
3. Stumble upon Harlan Coben.
Just to shake his hand. Just to say “thanks.”