So … I read this book. I’m not sure where it came from but I found it interesting. It was called “Textbook,” and it reads very much like textbooks I had at school. But the author included something catchy and unique by offering additional engagement via texting — and these offers were sprinkled throughout the book.
To begin, all you had to do was text Hello to her phone number and you would receive a greeting from her. That sounded fun but I didn’t do it for many reasons, the smallest being I’m not a team player and the largest being that I do my reading in bed and thought it would be rude to text her at 11:30 p.m. Maybe in the morning, I thought as I drifted off to sleep. Hah, by morning all was forgotten only to be rekindled at midnight and forgotten again.
When she did a chapter on Serendipity I was at first confused because I thought serendipity was finding something you had given up any hope of finding while looking for something else you lost. Her stories were much closer to what I considered coincidences. So you know I had to look the words up.
Serendipity: Luck, or good fortune, finding something good accidentally. (I was right, more or less.)
Coincidence: an accidental and remarkable occurrence of events at the same time. (I was right about that, too.)
So at the risk of splitting hairs, the author should have titled her chapter Coincidences, even though the word serendipity has more of a musical quality to it, don’t you think? Regardless, I had plenty of coincidental stories of my own and I was being invited to share them with her by merely texting “serendipity.”
And again, by morning all I had on my mind was the list of chores for the day. That went on for the entire book. I set it aside with the plan to engage with the author over the winter.
That was two months ago. I received a flyer from river’s end book store listing the latest offerings and I headed there post haste. A book caught my eye: “My Wife Thinks You May Want to Marry Me.” My curiosity was peaked and I added it to my growing pile of purchases.
I climbed into bed with that book that very night and on the very first page this man is saying that his wife died, that she was an author named Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Wait a minute! Wasn’t that the author of “Textbook”??? I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs and searched for it. Yes … it was her — and I was so shocked and sad. From having read her book I could see that she was quick witted and fun and seemed to have it all — and now she was gone.
Did she know she was dying when she wrote “Textbook?” I checked the dates. The book was published the same year she died so maybe. Were there any hints in the book? Now I was going to have to read it again. But before I did, many questions came to mind.
What about the interactive texts? Do they still work? I mean, is something set up to automatically cater to the purpose of the book, four years later? Even after her death? If I had texted her I would have been texting a dead person, which frankly creeps me out. Would it be rude to text now, to see if it still worked? Or maybe it would be thoughtful, in a “we won’t forget you” kind of way? Regardless, it feels weird and I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.
Then I began reading the husbands book, hoping for closure. It seems he was writing this book for the same reason. He offered a close up view of who Amy was as a person, of what caused her death, and that no, she did not know she was dying when she wrote “Textbook.”
I then reread Amy’s book to get a better sense of it. One of her texts was about tattoos and if you sent her a good idea for one she would get one to match. (I deduced that if she got 200 responses she would have been a tattooed mess!)
Then there was the chapter called Midterm Essay, where she tells of her midlife crisis and how she realizes that the hourglass is now half empty. (She didn’t know it would soon be topped off)
She continues with “I would like to avoid, for as long as humanly possible, being pronounced dead and just keep being pronounced Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I would like to say to that tomorrow-less day without me in it- stay away!”
The chapter ends with her conversing with her nine-year-old self and imagining the 80-year-old she expects to become. So no, she didn’t know. And she didn’t want to go. This causes me grief.
But, I can take heart in knowing she lived a lot in her shortened life, and she left behind a man who she thinks would be quite a catch.