An Essay by Alice Hoffman
I am convinced that the best time to read is summer. From the time I was a child it was clear to me that magic was best found in when school let out, when the world slowed down, when bookstores beckoned. I loved fairytales, folktales, and stories about children whose summers were interrupted by magical occurrences: a magic coin found on the sidewalk, or a nanny arriving on the wind. What I remember most about the summers of my past are the books that I read. There was the summer when I discovered Kurt Vonnegut's novels, and the summer when I read The Lord of the Ring series and the summer when all of my friends read The Mists of Avalon on a trip to Martha's Vineyard, sharing the one tattered copy we'd brought on vacation. There was the summer I read The Little Prince and cried on the train to the beach. Looking back, I remember hammocks and green lawns and fireflies, but my most vivid memories are of reading. Lying in bed with a flashlight reading Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was twelve years old. The summer of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, the summer of Wuthering Heights, the summer of The Great Gatsby.
And then one summer I wrote a book of my own in a room in Palo Alto looking out at the palm trees, but imagining New York City in the wintertime. I wrote Practical Magic in a shed on a marsh. I worked on the last draft of The Dovekeepers one hot August in Manhattan. I rewrote The Museum of Extraordinary Things near the harbor in Provincetown, and in a little house where everything was painted green I began The Marriage of Opposites one summer when there were fireflies and green lawns and a hammock, but more importantly, there was another story waiting to be written and then read on a summer night.
Alice Hoffman’s new book, The Marriage of Opposites, will be released August 4. Find it at any Books Inc. location!