'Reading makes me want to write,' says Marianne Gingher, 'in the same way a whiff of chocolate makes me salivate'. And write she does, as sure as Hershey makes kisses. How that writing came about is the subject of this hilarious and insightful book."Adventures in Pen Land" presents the call to the writing life as one of joy and opportunity rather than angst and longing. Gingher traces the circuitous and potholed road to the publication of a first novel, Bobby Rex's Greatest Hit - a slice of teenage Americana acclaimed as 'a rich and evocative portrait of an era' ("Library Journal") - as she follows the trajectory of her writing life from its earliest inklings.Gingher's unabashed account is chock-full of side-splitting observations of her literary education, from a Freudian analysis of her juvenile rabbit story to descriptions of a school principal more concerned about the proper use of Venetian blinds than pedagogy or discipline.
She invites us along on a raucous tour of soul-sucking jobs, marriage, and a teaching career, with accompanying disquisitions on blasphemous reading preferences, '60s pop culture, writing workshops, and other amusing detours and distractions on the way to publication. She also shares her keen insights into the role of a southern writer in American literary culture, the experience of writing as a mother, and the process of novel-writing as compared to a lengthy family car-trip.Featuring guest appearances by other writers such as Fred Chappell, Max Steele, and Annie Dillard plus cameos by the likes of Patty Hearst, Richard Nixon, and Bon Jovi, "Adventures in Pen Land" celebrates writing as a form of play that Gingher has never outgrown. The lighthearted illustrations by novelist Daniel Wallace (author of "Big Fish") serve to reinforce this refreshing message as they depict one writer and her imagination growing up together."Adventures in Pen Land" conveys a writer's sheer doggedness, with a few bones of advice tossed in along the way.
Candid and irreverent, but always humane, this memoir is must reading for fans of southern literature, students of creative writing, and anyone who can't resist the treat of reading about a writer's resilience and dedication to her craft.