Today is a day of enjoying the fuzzy "feel goods" of life--you know, all those things that make you smile even when you feel like you might be losing a lung every time you take a deep breath. I am sitting at home, writing my blog, rather than sitting in my office during my scheduled office hours because ... I am sick. I wish I could say I am simply playing hooky and enjoying life, but, sadly, I cannot. On sick days (especially those like today, where the outside weather matches my mood with clouds and drizzles), I like to go back to my fuzzy "feel goods" of life. So I'm watching my favorite movies (right now Fried Green Tomatoes), eating hot soup, drinking hot chocolate, wearing my favorite sweatshirt with pajamas, and celebrating books that make me smile. To be more precise, I'm taking today to celebrate one author in particular: Mary Higgins Clark.
Before I start with any praises, I will acknowledge one major flaw with MHC's books: her writing style. I am not a fan of her writing style because often times her sentences have the start-and-stop quality that can make readers feel like they are stuck in a traffic jam rather than reading quality work. For instance, the opening lines of one of my favorites from MHC, While My Pretty One Sleeps, kind of make me feel like I am reading a telegraph: "He drove cautiously up the Thruway toward Morrison State Park. The thirty-five-mile trip from Manhattan to Rockland County had been a nightmare. Even though it was six o'clock, there was no sense of approaching dawn." If I've just read a book written with stylistic flair, the redundancy of sentence structures frustrates me. And yet, I push on.
Why? MHC weaves fascinating plots that leave me wanting more. Even if her characters fall flat or stylistic qualities are rocky, her plots never fail to intrigue me. I started reading MHC quite simply because my mom read her books, and so in middle school when I started perusing my mom's bookshelves, I grabbed my first MHC book: A Stranger is Watching. I remember reading the book and feeling breathless throughout the entire book because, quite frankly, the story both terrified and fascinated me. Even when I was so tired that I was repeatedly prying my eyes back open with my fingers, I kept telling myself, "Just one more chapter." Inevitably, though, every time I finished a chapter, I repeated my mantra: "Just one more chapter." I did that all the way through the end of the book. Once I finished that one, I moved on to A Cry in the Night and, once again, read the book while holding my breath and continuously asking, "What's going to happen?" Since my introduction to MHC, I have read nearly every book she has written and have yet to find one of her books that doesn't have me saying, "Just one more chapter." (By saying "books," I am excluding her short stories and novellas, which do not have the same effect on me.)
I like that MHC books don't require a certain level of concentration--I can read her books through any number of distractions, including outside distractions like the hum of other passengers on airplanes and inner distractions like the haze created from feeling sick and taking DayQuil. Picking up a Mary Higgins Clark book creates the same feeling for me that a cup of hot chocolate creates on a cold, wintry day. It warms me up from the inside out because her books remind me of my youth, of late-night reading sessions, and, perhaps most importantly, of home.
Happy reading your own fuzzy "feel goods!"