Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Too Beautiful to be Believable: January Theme by Dia Calhoun


A reviewer of my book Eva of the Farm commented that Eva’s poems in the book were too beautiful to be believable. Usually, I don’t respond publicly to reviews, but I do need to respond to this comment because I don’t understand it. Gentle Readers, perhaps you can help me understand.

What does it mean--too beautiful to be believable? Really. THINK about it. Consider the following:

Michelangelo’s David
This is the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen. Does its incredible beauty mean it cannot possibly be real? Perhaps it is an illusion, perhaps it was made by Martians, perhaps it doesn’t even exist. It is too beautiful to be believable.

Victoria Soto
A teacher puts herself in front of a madman to try to protect her students, sacrificing her life. What an act of astonishing beauty. Does that mean it did not happen? Is it too beautiful to be believable?

Sunset over the Grand Canyon.
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. The color, light, and shadows on the rock and in the sky were more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen before at that age. I guess, though, because it was so beautiful, it could not have been real. Was I having a hallucination?

Now I suspect, Gentle Reader, you may say something like this. “The reviewer meant that Eva’s poems were too beautiful to believe they were written by a child.” But I find that baffling, too. Has anyone heard twelve-year-old Jackie Evancho sing? (If you have not, click here right now) Why can’t we expect  works of astonishing beauty from children?

Do we really only believe in beauty that is within our realm of understanding the world? Isn’t good art SUPPOSED to take us to a new level of appreciation for or understanding  of beauty? All I know is that I love to be astonished by beauty.

What about you, Gentle Reader?

4 comments:

  1. Sorry, I don't understand what the reviewer meant either. Can't wait until you have a new book out. I SO loved Avielle of Rhia

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  2. We often don't give young readers enough credit...they have ASTOUNDING abilities. I was an English tutor as I was trying to land my first pub deal, helping kids improve their writing. Some of their observations / phrasings were SO smart and, yes, beautiful.

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  3. It seems to me that the older we get, the more we tend to stifle our creativity. We conform, we get self-conscious, we stop letting our imaginations have free flight. But children have no such qualms. They write honestly and truly and without fear, and that, to me, is the most beautiful writing of all.

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  4. Thanks Natalie, for your kind words about Avielle of Rhia. And I agree with Holly. And with Trudi to the beauty of writing without fear. Fear is a wing-cutter. So let's shed it and soar!

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