Monday, August 30, 2010

Sob inducers

A while ago Josie Levitt posted about crying in public over a book on the Publisher's Weekly Shelf Talker blog. I'm proud to say that she was sobbing over one of the books I edited, Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick, a book I had also sobbed over in public the first time I read it.

Sorta Like a Rock Star is one of two books that I've edited in my career that have made me more than just cry--they've made me sob. Actual, stomach-heaving sobs. Not just moved, not just having tears well up in my eyes, but really cry. The other book was Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans.

I was remembering some of the books I sobbed over as a kid. The ones that stick out in my mind are My Brother Sam is Dead, Where the Red Fern Grows, Charlotte's Web, Summer of My German Soldier, and A Taste of Blackberries. I remember the sobbing, the streaming tears, the nose blowing and crumpled tissues. I remember feeling simultaneously anguished and reborn when I finished the books. God, I loved that feeling. A big cry feels good, particularly if it's not my own life's tragedies that I'm crying at.

As I always tell agents and announce at writer's conferences, I'm a sucker for books that make me cry. I just finished reading a wonderful book, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams. And yes, I had tears streaming down my face while on the train--although no actually sobbing this time, probably because they were tears of joy, rather than agony. But if you want sobbing, The Book Thief is your book.

I marvel at the skill of these authors to write such real characters, so real that I suffer true pain at the loss that the characters suffer, or pain when I lose them altogether. That's something.

What are some of your favorite sob inducers?


Joanne Levy said...

Chris Crutcher's DEADLINE made me weep uncontrolably until snot poured out of my face. I'm not normally a sobber, but that book really got to me.

yamster said...

The last book I remember crying over was An Na's A Step from Heaven. For some reason neither The Book Thief nor Jellicoe Road (which I think you mentioned made you cry also?) did it for me. I think my brain might need a more traditional narrative structure. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for father-daughter relationship epiphanies (as in Eat Drink Man Woman).

Libby Koponen said...

I have recently realized, while writing-for-hire something with sad elements, that I would rather laugh than cry.MUCH.

Lighthearted cheerfulness keeps breaking into this story. I'll start a scene, someone will do something I didn't expect or plan, and I find myself loving it and laughing outloud. So, I've finally decided to go with that and just dump the heavy elements.

But, the book may have its tear-jerking moments, too. MY favorite books, as a child and an adult, make me laugh and cry.

THE TREASURE SEEKERS by E.Nesbit--mostly laughing, but sobbing in the scene where Dora tells Oswald what their mother said before she died

But as for plain sobbing:

LITTLE WOMEN (all-time weeparoo)



CHARLOTTE'S WEB (will never forget two boys I babysat for giggling when we wer all listening to this on the radio and I started to cry)

BAMBI (the book, when Bambi got old)

PETER PAN (when Wendy grew up and Peter came back - the first book I ever sobbed over. I will also never forget the look of bewildered horror on my father's face--he was reading it aloud to us and when my sister and I began sobbing, put it down, clearly at a loss.
"I don't have to read any more," he stammered.
"No, no, finish it!" we sobbed.