Saturday, December 25, 2010
Author Holiday Extravaganza + Contest: Ty Roth
Today's featured author is 2011 debut Ty Roth, who's written So Shelly. If you haven't heard of this book, make sure you check it out. With a gorgeous cover and a very great premise, it's definitely one to look out for! I now turn over to Ty:
First Snows and Final Thoughts
In an early scene from The Great Gatsby, on a June evening, Daisy Buchanan sits on the veranda of her palatial East Egg estate and asks her dinner guests, “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.” That seemingly innocuous musing has always stuck with me. I think because it mirrors the way in which so many of us wait for our lives to really begin only to one day wake up old men and women and to discover that in the watching for it, we’ve already missed it.
Like Daisy, I too anticipate the arrival of a particular day of the year. For me, however, it is the symbolic opposite of Daisy’s special day, and I watch for it without her blasé obliviousness to the passing of time. Each year, I watch for the first snowfall. The vast majority of the time, I’ve viewed this spectacle through a classroom window, and it has never failed to send a surge of electricity through both me and my high school-aged students, who turn wide-eyed towards the snow drifting downwards in flakes that are few-and-far-between. Each time it’s like the first time any of us have ever seen this spiritual manna from the heavens fall to feed and lift our souls still mourning the end of summer’s warmth and autumn’s beauty.
For my students, as it was for me as a young person, the snow’s coming is a welcome harbinger of all of the soon-to-arrive joys of winter: sledding, skating, snow days, and especially Christmas vacations, celebrations, and of course, gifts. Although winter in the offing still generates a similar excitement for me, it also arrives with a more sobering message: the end of another in a fast-diminishing store of years. I don’t think of it as a sad realization but as a reminder to cherish the season and to make the most of those still-plentiful years. The early snow admonishes me not to be like Daisy Buchanan, who, despite her materially-blessed condition, remains spiritually and emotionally famished throughout the novel and grows unappreciative of friends, family, and the profound pleasure to be had by treasuring simple things and by wallowing in the slow passage of time.
Even as I watch these first flakes waft to the ground, which is still too warm to properly welcome them, I think of a line of poetry from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” So, I don’t bemoan winter’s arrival; instead, I’m grateful for its reminders of 1) the need to consciously extract as much joy as possible from the elusive present, and 2) that nothing really dies anyway; everything resurrects and reincarnates.
One of my favorite songs of the season is “This Christmas.” It’s been frequently-covered but never done as well as Donnie Hathaway’s original version. The song has nothing to do with snow, but it ties in to my other theme of focusing intently on the here and the now so as not to allow it to slip past unawares. The title suggests that unlike all of the singer’s previous Christmases, “this Christmas” he’s finally going to get it right. My hope is that this Christmas and in this next year, we all get it right.
And to wrap up the extravaganza and celebrate the holidays, Ty has offered up one signed copy of So Shelley, which will be sent out to the winner after his author copies come in.
To enter, fill out THIS form. Contest is US only and ends January 8.
Posted by Kari Olson at 12:34 PM