Evocative Objects

Thanks again to my friend, Julie Larios, for all of the many new perspectives she’s brought to me, including bringing Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (ed. Sherry Turkle) to my attention. There’s a lovely essay in this book on knot-tying, to which I alerted Susan Patron, given that her character Lincoln is never without a piece of string in his hand.

The assorted essays in this book touch on objects ranging from ballet slippers to glucometers to radios to a 1964 Ford Falcon. No matter how ridiculous (slime mold?) or sublime (the stars), the subject of each essay transported me.

And I began to think about things. Tonight we had dinner with our friends, Bill and Marla, and said she has always coveted the avocado green Bauer pitcher in my kitchen (from my mother-in-law).

I have always admired the few exquistely charming pieces of Candlewick glassware Marla owns. My friend, Karen, has an incredible map of the world in her back hall, pricked with multi-colored round-headed pins marking the places her peripatetic sons have visited. On my desk, sits a leather wrapped container holding a few of my beloved grandmother’s paintbrushes.

I confess my failures: I have never read Proust. But I understand a mere cookie drove him to spin an entire novel. And I wonder: what are the objects that turn loose your memories, that foster your stories?

And, perhaps more importantly, what are the objects that stir your characters to action?

I’d love to know!

No Responses to “Evocative Objects”

  1. Ann Finkelstein

    This was an interesting post. A friend once emailed me for help with her daughter’s science project. They needed to make something that moved, and the rubber band-powered paper airplane I suggested ended up playing an important role in my manuscript. (Not only that, but my friend’s daughter got an A on her science project.)

  2. Barbara O'Connor

    I am the queen of STUFF. My house is filled with stuff, stuff, stuff and most of it with memories – so this is a great post to read. One object that comes to mind is the little rhinestone poodle dog pin that the character of Loretta loses in GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE. I had that pin when I was a little girl and adored it. Now, don’t tell anyone this – but I lost it years ago. So when I was writing that book, I searched on eBay and found one EXACTLY like the one I had and bought it. When I go to schools, I show them the little pin – and, um, I LIE to them tell them it is the one I had when I was a little girl. Isn’t that awful? But it just wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I told them I got it on eBay. Shhhhh….our little secret.

  3. Kirby Larson

    I can relate: our family favorite book was How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, written by Russell Hoban and ill. by Quentin Blake. New, it probably sold for $4.95 but we couldn’t afford to buy books in those days. Two or three years ago, I decided to try to get a copy . . .which I did, but paying way, way, WAY more than $4.95. Not sure what the lesson is in all this but there must be one.