I recently finished Some Days There’s Pie by Catherine Landis, a fellow Knoxvillian. I went to a Writers’ Guild meeting last summer and heard her talk about writing this book. One of the praises read at the meeting from various news releases described the novel as a “perfect beach read.” Somehow, this description doesn’t fit to me and neither does the book jacket. They both evoke an artificiality that I don’t think reflects the actual story at all.
The story is told by Ruth, a young girl sick of the world around her. She leaves her Tennessee home and lands in a North Carolina town called Lawsonville. She makes friends with Ruth, a notorious old woman with Lung Cancer. The relationship between Rose and Ruth is central to the story, but Ruth meets other people too.
Rose and Ruth are both ordinary misfits, and by the time I had finished, I realized that everyone else in the story is too. By misfits, I don’t mean dark and brooding literary heroes. Nothing in this story is “put on” like that. It is not fake or sappy. Landis knows how to write people, and whenever I read something like this,* I’m amazed at how well I know everyone at the end. It is beautiful.
This book was a nice break from the escapist reading I’ve been doing lately. But, isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Maybe I’m escaping too much.
*Another local writer shares this talent. Brian Griffin has a collection of short stories called Sparkman in the Sky. I read it last summer before taking a workshop that he taught. Each story dug up people I felt I already knew. I was intimidated that Brian would be reading my story in the workshop, but he ended up being a good teacher as well as a good writer.
It seems I am in good company in K-town. Now if I could just get myself to more Writers’ Guild meetings!