Every American Summer I find my way to the basement book shop, Between The Covers in Main St Harbor Springs Michigan. There are always unique children’s books that my girls adore to receive ‘special-delivery’ back to New Zealand while I’m away. This years acquisitions include a few newer fabulous Skippy John Jones titles, our daughters love Skippy John Jones especially when my wife reads the first one with a Spanish accent. For my wife I purchased Katie Couric’s book, The Best Advice I Ever Got. Couric's book doesn't seem to be making it into the care packages back to New Zealand, because I find that I can't put it down myself.
The book fell open at the Kathryn Stockett’s section ‘Don’t Give Up, Just Lie…which seemed like an intriguing challenging title… I had not connected the dots at that point that it was this Kathryn that had written the book ‘The Help’ which was the subject of many of the movie billboards all around the USA this summer.
So here I am reading what turns out to be Kathryn Stockett’s rejection story…. Rejection letter number forty, after many years of writing and re-writing her story; “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” She writes, ‘That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity…’ By number fifty five, she was due to give birth to her daughter but wouldn’t go to the hospital until she’d typed The End! She was still poring over her research, when the nurse looked at her and said, “put the book down you nut job, you’re crowning!”In the end she received sixty rejection letters and after five years of writing and three and a half years of rejections an agent took pity on her!
So now I’ve been ‘got’ by ‘The Help’. I find myself with a free evening in Harbor Springs so I drove across to Petosky to watch the Movie ‘The Help’. And what an interesting, poignant story it is…there was many in the packed house rubbing the tears from their cheeks…. But here’s why I’m writing this piece. Petosky is a 99.99% white town. The help is a story about ‘Black’ maids. At he end of the movie the totally white audience clapped long and loud! And yet there’s another story. Kathryn Stockett is… you guessed it White… so many in America evidently are boycotting the movie! I don’t have an answer for that line of ‘critical thought’, only that the movie is very very good and now I want to read the book. That said, anytime someone presents me with a piece or two of pie in America… I think I’ll always be drifting off in my mind and smiling about the wonderfully well told story; ‘The Help’! Oh and Katie Couric’s book is fabulous too!