Saturday, July 12, 2008

Red Leather Diary

One of the best things to happen here in Denver - among meeting many wonderful new colleagues and learning a lot at this conference - has been visiting with my dear friend Linda (who lives in Oregon, but we haven't seen each other for about 2 years and are now visiting in Denver - go figure). Linda and I had an excellent visit at the Denver Art Museum, seeing Native American aart and Impresioinist paintings, primarily. Plus a very ritzy lunch. But also, Linda gave me wonderful book - Lily Koppel's biography/feature The Red Leather Diary, (link requires flash) a true story of finding an old diary on the street in front of an apartment in New York City and reconnecting with the author, Florence Wolfson Howitt, now 90, and retracing her life story. Koppel first wrote about the diary for The New York Times before making this book. (See also photos of the original book and author). I think my mother had a similar 5-year diary, with each page for a single day and entries for each year. I should go find it in my storage box. Great bedtime reading.



Blogger Laura said...

Oooh, neat. I'd love to read that. I love love love old diaries. Reminds me: I have one similar -- the five-year kind with four or five lines per day -- kept by a young woman in 1915. She doesn't write consistently, and her personality doesn't really come out that much (at least, not compared to Florence's here) but I love at least when she talks about the silent movies she went to see.

It's interesting, isn't it, what gems we get from Florence partly because she knows she has to condense her thoughts into four lines. That would be a good exercise for any of us now -- to capsulize our day (or something important in our day) in four lines or in just one or two sentences.

So, have you read it yet? I wonder if I should risk adding it to my reading this summer.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Sara Jameson said...

Let me know if you want to borrow it. I enjoyed almost every aspect – the personality – life of women in those days – NYC – the adventure of finding Florence etc. What I found a bit trying was the sentence structure of the author Lily Koppel who assembled the biography around diary excerpts. I would have preferred Joan Didion’s lush and luxuriant style. Instead Koppel seemed to be imitating Florence’s abbreviated diary style. Too many short choppy simple sentences. How many subject-predicate sentences can you read in a row!

8:04 AM  

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