LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

Dear Stephen King,

I'm a huge fan. I dearly love the Dark Tower series. The Stand, I believe, is one of the best American novels ever written. Hearts in Atlantis, The Green Mile, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Misery, all of your short story collections, and the memoir, On Writing, are on my bookshelf.

In fact, I met you in Tallahassee when you did a reading at Seven Days of Opening Nights in 2006. I was very pregnant with my son, and when I asked you to autograph On Writing to him, you did so and then layed your hands on my pregnant belly and closed your eyes. When he's having a particularly hellish tantrum, I often think of you.

I must confess that there are quite a few of your horror novels that I haven't read: Cujo, The Tommyknockers, Pet Semetery, The Dark Half, are among them. It's not that I don't believe those are equally well-written. I'm sure they are. It's just that I'm easily scared and don't enjoy the process. During the daylight hours, I'm a perfectly sensible 38-year-old mother who does not believe in ghosts or demons or such, but at 3 a.m., when I'm up by myself feeding the baby, I'm pretty sure there's a scary vampire baby scratching at the window outside. (Yeah, thanks for Salem's Lot; that was 30+ years ago, and I'm still freaked out by that flying vampire kid.)

Your latest novel, The Dome, as every critic I've read agrees, is perhaps your best ever. I have been listening to the audio recording and have been absolutely riveted. The reader is pretty good, though I can't understand why Jim Rennie, a man described as living in Chester's Mill, Maine, his whole life, has a very strong Southern accent, except maybe the reader thinks it makes him sound more evil. As a Southerner, that doesn't really bother me, though. In fact, I have an image of a very familiar Southern baddie in mind when picturing him; the characters of The Dome remind me of many heroes and villains I've known in my life. That's the genius of it; the characters are so real, so believable, that I've been genuinely worried about them since I've started reading the book (or listening to it, I should say).

No, I was utterly on board till close to the 30-hour mark in the recording when little Ollie Dinsmore goes to the dome and starts throwing rocks. A soldier on the other side, described as hailing from South Carolina, says to him, "Will y'all stop doing that? It's driving me crazy."

Little Ollie is alone, the only one throwing rocks. "Y'all" is plural, though, a contraction of "you all." There are no exceptions to this rule. It is always plural, and despite its common misuse by fictional Southerners in movies and books written by Yankees (and portrayed by non-Southern actors who all for some reason sound like Jimmy Carter), it is never used as anything but a plural by any living breathing Southerner. The most ignorant, grammar-challenged one of us (and some people think all of us are) will not use "y'all" in any way except the plural.

If you hear a Southerner using "y'all" while speaking to one person, he is referring to that person and a group of others not currently in the room. For instance, I might ask, "Are y'all going to the family reunion on Saturday?" and the listener would know that I meant him and his family. If I were at the dinner table with one other Southern person and asked, "Could y'all pass the salt?" that person would probably turn around to look behind him, or think I were hallucinating.

I realize we don't make it easy on y'all (meaning all non-Southerners). We have been known to indicate a group as "all y'all," which is, in fact, redundant. And the possessive of "y'all" is "y'all's," which is often pronounced "YAL-ziz," as in "Is this y'all's dog? He was digging in my yard."

I'm not saying this to be a smart aleck. Quite the contrary. I have huge respect for you. I will never be the writer you are. Your books are so well researched and your characters so real that I can't imagine such a glaring error passed your notice. Because it is glaring -- to anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line or east of the Mississippi. We hear it all the time in movies and on TV, but it's still wrong. And it grates. If I knew more about the speech of people from Maine, I would try to draw an analogy, but I promise you that if I ever write anything with a character from the northeast in it, I'll ask a local to check my colloquialisms.

In the meantime, I'm going to pretend that you cut a sentence from "The Dome" which described how the soldier had double-vision and therefore believed that Ollie and his twin were throwing rocks. Because I'm not going to stop reading. I can't. This book is awesome.

Hope y'all (you and your family) are doing well ...

Amanda Broadfoot

Reader Comments

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y'all

A beautiful prose. And funny.
Love - the Eyres

Hi-freakin-larious!

Spewed perfectly good wine out of my mouth while reading this. Who knew this was such an epidemic? I feel enlightened. :)

Thanks!

I hate to hear about the waste of good wine, but I appreciate the comments!

Amen, ya'll.

Thank very thing has been driving me nuts for years.

From Amanda

Maybe we need a "Y'all Awareness Day." We could have a rally and teach Yankees how to contract "you" and "all." It would be a short rally.

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Backjack Chair

"Circle Time" each morning at Pre-K, when everyone sits on the floor and listens to the teacher, was proving a challenge for Billy last fall. He found it tough, apparently, to remain on his carpet square or even identify which square was his. Our speech therapist recommended the BackJack chair to help him clearly define his space. The Backjack Chair essentially provides a back for sitting on the floor. And he's done much better in his group since he started using it.

I didn't expect how much I would like the Backjack chair. I spend a lot of time on the floor of the kids' playroom, and having a bad back, that can get uncomfortable after a while. The Backjack chair lets me comfortably sit on their level for storytime, playing with the Little People or building with blocks. Also, it's very lightweight, and you can fold it up easily and take it to picnics, sporting events or any other place where you might be expected to plant your bum on the ground for a long period of time. It's SUPER-comfortable.

Aerogrow Indoor Garden

I love to grow things. I've been chomping at the bit to get out in our new yard and start digging in the soil, but this winter has been gruesome. I realize that this will seem laughable to my friends in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but I'm in Florida. I'm supposed to be picnicking by now, not building wood fires. It has certainly been too cold to get any planting or yard work started. But the mini "aeroponic" garden that my mom got me for Christmas a few years ago is a great way to satisfy my urge to see things greenify, as well as teach the kids about where food comes from.

Aeroponic means that the plants grow in air and water; no soil is required. You don't have to have any real gardening skill; anyone can grow herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, chili peppers or petunias (those are some of the plants for which they have kits at the moment). You just plug it in and follow simple directions. Little seed pods slot down into the holes under the unit's light. Water is added to the well underneath the seed pods. And that's pretty much it. Billy loves to check out the progress of the plants each day, and I think it will make him more interested in planting things outdoors soon.

The Audible.com recording of Stephen King's The Dome

I love Stephen King and I love Audible.com. I can listen to a 1000-page novel while I wash dishes, vaccum, take Willow for a walk, or retrieve Thomas the Trains friends from the garbage disposal. Before I found Audible, it had been months since I read a novel.

The Dome is, I think, the best thing Stephen King has written since The Stand. The premise is simple: An invisible dome mysteriously appears over a small Maine town. There is no way for people inside the dome to get out, and there's no way for the outside world to get in to help them. Once you accept that one supernatural premise, everything else that happens is completely natural: the loss of electrical power and the shortage of resources, the divisions within the town, the grabs for and abuses of power, the increasing desperation.

Growing up in a small town that bears a strong resemblance to the ficitonal Chester's Mill -- despite their geographic distance from one another -- I recognize both the heroes and villains in this story. And the more I "read" (or heard), the more anxious and tense I got -- the sign of a really good page turner. Even if the "pages" are indicated only by when the reader takes a deep breath.

Yo-Baby
Our pediatrician recommended Yo-Baby organic yogurt the last time Willow had a really bad stomach flu. Apparently, it helps regulate their little digestive systems. Willow loves it, particularly the kind with fruit and cereal puree in the bottom. She won't eat any other baby food; she would rather eat our food, whatever it is: avocado, tomatoes, you name it. The only problem with Yo-Baby is that I can't always find it in the grocery store. Walmart didn't carry it the last time I was there. And Publix seems to put it in a different place in each store, usually in the Greenwise organic section. Our favorite flavor: raspberry banana.

Coffee
Give me a super-big cup of regular old Maxwell House Breakfast Blend and I can deal with just about any amount of sleep deprivation. No fancy coffees for me. Don't put ice in my coffee or whipped cream or cinnamon on top. I don't want my coffee to taste like Christmas or flowers or cough drops. Just throw a little creamer in there with some sugar and I'm good to go. Most of the time, I don't even use sugar; I use these sweetener packets I bought at the Dollar Tree that have probably been made from the ground-up fingernails of Chinese children, but they do the trick.

Reader Comments

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