Friday, February 9, 2007


I love brilliance. I always have. I’m amazed when I see it and I always wonder what happened to make that particular person or thing brilliant.

Brilliance isn’t perfection. The two are very different. One is attainable, while the other is not. I used to seek perfection, but the journey towards it was difficult, the goal unattainable. Now I seek brilliance – a moment of it, a work called it, a life full of it.

Brilliant people exist everywhere and in every field and of every color and flavor on Earth. Sometimes, it is what they say or do that is brilliant. Sometimes, it is their ideas or creations.

In this blog, I want to talk about works of brilliance, more specifically books of brilliance. Most specifically, my most recent discovery of brilliance.

While I've been more cognizant of brilliant books since I began writing, I didn’t just begin noticing brilliance recently. I have always been fascinated by the brilliant play of words on a page. A book can be brilliant in one area, but not another. However, those books that stay with us are either brilliant works or they speak to us in brilliant and illuminating ways. Otherwise, they provide moments of pleasure but not profound impacts.

What books have you deemed brilliant?

My list goes back to childhood.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I loved in particular The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Great title, btw. When my step-daughter was assigned to read it for school years ago, we trekked to the local bookstore to buy it. While she looked at other books, I stood at the rack on which it was displayed and read the whole thing again just standing there. And once again, always, when I got to the part where Aslan offers himself in Lucy’s place, I cried. Brilliant writing. Brilliant.

Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinle in Time is another. Tesseracts, mitochondria, and a brilliant young girl named Meg.

J.K. Rowling’s incredible imaginary world seems so real that we’re willing to pay for a book months before it’s released, dress up like characters from it, and visit bookstores at midnight (bookstores!!). It’s not just me. It’s legions of fans.

Richard Preston’s non-fiction work A Demon in the Freezer. His recounting of our war against small pox reads like great fiction and scares the hell out of you as only truth can.

As I’ve mentioned in other blogs -- Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

Ender’s Game and even better – Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.

There are so many more, including the book I’m currently devouring: Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. What a brilliant cast of characters! What deft internal conflicts they all face! How their true heart’s desires, spoken as they form their Order, resonate with the internal conflict each of them experiences. As I read, I’m drawn back to my teenage years and the heartache and yearning that are universal at that age. Brilliant. The four girls at the center of the story have brilliant GMC’s (goal, motivation, conflict). Ordinary Ann wants to be beautiful and noticed and to feel. Pippa wants true love, but must lie about her true self because she is tainted so that no one would want her if they knew. Felicity feels powerless against the blows of life, and wants her own power most of all. And Gemma, the book’s protagonist, wants to know – who she is, why she has these visions, why …

The book is full of brilliant lines:
“I don’t know yet what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I’m beginning to understand why those ancient woman had to hide in caves. Why our parents and teachers and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably. It’s not that they want to protect us; it’s that they fear us.”


“Their sin was that they believed. Believed they could be different. Special. They believed they could change what they were – damaged, unloved …. So life took them, led them, and they went along you see? They faded before their own eyes, till they were nothing more than living ghosts, haunting each other with what could be. What can’t be.”

Read the lines in context. Better yet, buy the book on CD, too, and listen to the words. I replayed and reread them several times. It was worth every penny to read and hear such brilliance. To witness the spirit of being sixteen so aptly captured. To read the hopes and fears and universal truths of coming of age.

I hope to write that brilliantly. I say to myself everyday that I am a brilliant and prolific writer. I am. At least, I will be.

Books like Libba Bray’s are beacons in the tunnel of brilliance, lighting the way for those who seek it.

I seek. Show me.



Unknown said...

Hey Macy. Your brilliance theme inspired my Saturday Sixteen this week. I've also added a new title to my "buy and read" list.