Friday, April 07, 2006

Mr. Doerr Responds

I received an email from Anthony Doerr today, author of the essay that prompted yesterday's post. Mr. Doerr has kindly agreed to allow me to post his email here which offers clarification about the essay. His email:

This morning a friend sent me a link to your blog's post titled "Foiled." I was dismayed to see my Morning News essay so mischaracterized there. In the opening three paragraphs of the essay, you're exactly right, I facetiously joked that "Libraries have been Napstering the hell out of [writers] ever since Alexandria." This was meant as humor, although obviously, from your reaction, and that of some other readers, I did not manage this very well. In fact, it seems I failed miserably. But I honestly did intend this as humor. Later, the essay includes this paragraph: "Obviously libraries aren’t evil. Libraries are fundamental pieces of any community, as vital as sewers or snowplows or good pizza. Libraries are little holy lands with giant invisible tentacles of imagination that fly out the doors and plunge through the windows of the houses around them. Libraries are often the greatest thing that has ever happened to any child in any neighborhood in any country." I did not in any way intend to characterize, as you suggest, libraries as "horrible places." Indeed, I intended the opposite. The point of the essay was a perhaps misguided thesis that, "a book purchase... is a message to a publisher that a writer matters, that you want to see more of her kinds of books out there in the world." I never suggested that any readers can afford to buy 50+ hardcover books every year. I myself certainly never could do that. But, in the end, I think I wrote the essay too late at night, in between shuttling bottles to our young sons, and it was put together carelessly. Yesterday, after receiving several emails about the piece, many of which were upset with the opening paragraphs, I realized many folks were not even finishing the essay, so the editors of The Morning News and I decided to retract it. Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to defend myself. This morning's was my first visit to your blog and I admire it very much, and it breaks my heart to think my thoughts might be mischaracterized on it. As for your last line, "What he should be worrying about are the people who don't read, or worse, can't," I feel obliged to say that I am very active here in Boise at both the Log Cabin Literary Center and the Learning Lab, both of which work every single day to increase literacy in our community. I am in fact very worried about people who don't and can't read, and I fully understand that libraries are the number one source for written materials for the underprivileged.
I don't know about you all, but I feel better after reading that (and not just because he said he admires my blog!)