I’m left-handed. It doesn’t hold me back particularly, but in Grade Six, it crushed me. There was excitement when our teacher announced that eight students would be selected to learn to play the ukulele; the rest would make do with the recorder. When my name was called for the ukulele group, it was a proud moment. The chosen eight swaggered to the back of the classroom. My delight turned to despair when the teacher remembered I was left-handed. The others were right-handed; I would confuse things and was cast out. I slunk back to my desk to join the recorder rejects. Not cool, Mr. T. Not cool.
Sweet vindication when
a few many years decades later that sad story of thwarted musical ambition won me a book. When Tania Hershman released her book of short stories, My Mother Was An Upright Piano, I won a copy, by answering this question: If you were a musical instrument, which one would you be? Naturally, I chose the ukulele, outlining my tale of woe. When the book arrived in the post, the inscription made me smile: “To Downith, to somewhat compensate for the ukulele trauma – read this book with whatever hand you choose!”
The book was a delight to read – a series of short (and even shorter) stories that stayed with me long after I’d finished it.
Tania is an inspiration: her blog posts are always interesting ; as founder and editor of The Short Review, she is a tireless promoter of short stories; she is generous in sharing literary information on her blog: and fearless! She sent a copy of My Mother Was An Upright Piano to a reviewer at the Times Literary Supplement. As she said about the experience on her blog:
“It’s worth saying again, that for a short story writer with no literary agent, published by a small press, to be noticed is immensely heartening. And a note to all your unagented writers published by small presses – I took the initiative here, so don’t be shy, just do it, give reviewers a chance to consider your work!”
Holy Chutzpah, Batman!
In fact, the only criticism I have is that for some reason her blog no longer accepts my comments! But that’s probably because I’m left-handed…