Photo: Rick Kahn
Very short bio:
CATHLEEN DAVITT BELL is the author of Slipping, Little Blog on the Prairie, I Remember You, and a co-author of The Amanda Project. She received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.
Longer, more interesting bio:
Cathleen Davitt Bell has hiked on the rocky Italian coastline, used positive visualization to control pain, visited every bowling alley in the Adirondacks, invented her own kind of pasta dish (write and she'll give you the recipe), and is halfway to raising two kids in partnership with a terrific husband. She can tell a pretty mean ghost story, make butter with ingredients from the corner deli, and has just published a book about the most passionate kind of love she can imagine.
How I really look at my life:
My instinct here is to tell you about my childhood. But when I think about my childhood, I think about books. The Princeton Public Library! Gurgling fountains! The hum of the ventilation system! I loved old fashioned books, old fashioned everything. Because it was the 1970s and everything was made out of polyester and my parents kept telling me I should consider myself lucky this wasn't the 1950s when they couldn't have got divorced.
(I now realize I am lucky. Life is messy. Divorce happens. My parents both loved me a lot and I knew it all of the time, which is huge.)
Nevertheless, reading: Black Hearts in Battersea. The Egypt Game. Little House on the Prairie. Betsy, Tacey. Not Ramona, too messy, though I love her now. A Wrinkle in Time and even better from L'Engle: We Both Were Young.
Middle School: Reading about Becky Sharpe in Vanity Fair. For fun. Even though it really wasn’t that much fun because I was living alongside modern day versions of that unforgettable narcissist created by William Thakeray. The World According to Garp--that was an education!
High School: Siphoning liquor with my best friend from her parents’ supply by night, reading the complete Jane Austen by day. Boys. Cars moving fast. Tennis in hot weather. Loving the way I could spin words for newspaper articles and short stories. Falling in love with seeing my own words in print. Did I mention Jane Austen? All six novels bound into a single volume. I have yet to find stories I love more.
College: New York City. Rainy afternoons, taking the M104 bus to the Met. In my first year, I stayed awake all night long, under the covers, reading Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. I reread it recently, in a hotel room with the whole family sleeping around me: same thing.
Paris, Junior Year, winter: Deciding to beome a writer after finishing a book that was so terrible, I thought, "Well, how hard can that be?" (Answer: excruciatingly hard.) Reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, walking in his footsteps, trying my hand at writing, wishing oysters were still cheap as dirt.
And here I am, oysters or no, still trying. Writing back to the books I love, but also trying to lay them down and take in what’s in front of me, what I can feel and hear and see. Your being here with me means everything.