Culture Street

The drama of Randy Susan Meyers' novels is informed by her past work with criminal offenders and families impacted by emotional and family violence, as well as through years spent bartending. The Massachusetts Center named Meyers’ debut novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, a “Must Read Book” and one of the “2011 Ten Best Works of Fiction.”

Her newly released novel, The Comfort of Lies, explores the collateral damage of infidelity, the difficulty of balancing motherhood, marriage and work, and the dark, private struggles many experience, but rarely reveal.

Meyers is a founding member of Beyond The Margins, a multi-writer site dedicated to the craft of writing and the business of publishing. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and has recently co-authored the guide What To Do Before Your Book Launch with bestselling writer MJ Rose. She teaches writing at the Grub Street Writers Center in Boston.

Meyers, the mother of two grown daughters, was born in Brooklyn, New York. She lives in Boston with her husband.

Meyers joins us today to share her five most influential books.

Hope

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith was my childhood bible, my talisman of hopefulness—similar to bookish Francie I grew up confused by my always-working mother and missing my father. Like Francie, I’d experienced the horror of old men preying on young girls, the joy of having an aunt I’d worshipped, and suffered in a school I hated. And in the end, she persevered. Perhaps one special book imprints all insatiable readers at a vulnerable age. Because of brave Francie, I believed I could and would survive. She gave me faith in the future.

 

Courage

I started Jesse: A Mother's Story twice: Marianne Leone’s unrelenting immediacy yanked me into her world. Jesse owned me from the first page. By the prologue’s end, knowing how it would end, a coward, I put it aside. I’d fallen in love with the family and needed to build courage to continue. Later I began again, finished and received a great gift: I learned you could have utmost love, then the worst possible pain, and, though you never lose the grief, love for your child continues, enveloping your dreams and soul. Perhaps that’s what keeps you from total madness.

Survival

Ice Bound, a memoir co-written by Jerri Nielson and Maryanne Vollers, fit every criteria I have for a great read: engrossing plot, flowing prose, gotta-know (for goodness sake, she discovers she has breast cancer while in Antarctica,) and juicy subplots; family troubles, check; intriguing setting which is a story in itself, check; side characters who you deeply care about, check; heroics large and small, check, check, check. Stuck where no planes can fly, Nielsen performs her own biopsy after finding a lump in her breast—an amazing tale of medical courage and adventure. It taught me about survival.

Acceptance

Food and Loathing by Betsy Lerner isn’t a self-help book; nor is it a companionable hug for staying heavy. It’s a mirror. It’s looking back, looking forward, or looking at who you are right this moment.

Shaded Writing 

In Before and After by Rosellen Brown, the reader is torn between three family members points of view, whose lives are changed forever by the action of another. Brown captures minute emotional shading. Each description takes the reader on the ride that keeps the tension and fictive dream going. She follows the family in growing crisis’s being denied and illuminates the ways parents and children can blind themselves to the elephant in the room. This book speaks to my fascination with families living in the same house and yet experiencing and describing catastrophes in such a divergent manner.

 

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