Issue #209: Things I Know to Be True by Kendra Fortmeyer

209-coverIn the 1960s my mother worked as a librarian in Brookline, Massachusetts. She still talks about how the building was a lifeline to the community there–not only for students and families but also for the elderly, the unemployed, the lost and the dispossessed. At libraries, people who can’t afford an education (or even a newspaper) have access to books from around the world. At the very least they can find quiet and shelter until the stacks close at night. Our new issue, “Things I Know to Be True” by Kendra Fortmeyer, explores the library as refuge through the unique voice of Charlie Harrison, a Vietnam vet struggling to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Charlie uses books to escape the visions in his head, but when an incident gets him banned from his local library, he must find a way to build his own stories, and eventually face the past he has been hiding from. In Kendra’s Q&A, she discusses the challenges of creating a point of view like Charlie’s, and how libraries have played a role in her own past (and future—as she is now in library school!). “Things I Know to Be True” is an important story about trauma, mental illness, family, and the power of words. I hope it will inspire some of you to dust off your old library cards. There is a whole world waiting at your local branch, and with any luck, a friendly librarian, who can put the right book into your hands.

3 thoughts on “Issue #209: Things I Know to Be True by Kendra Fortmeyer

  1. As a former librarian I can testify to the fact that libraries can be lifesavers for many people. They help students generate new ideas and provide a means to investigate new ideas and possibilities.

  2. I was very moved by this story. I underlined many lines. I could imagine being Charlie, his aloneness, his living in words. The bus scenes were especially striking to me. I could imagine this story as a little film.

  3. There’s an obvious reference to the book “The Things They Carried”; I wonder why that wasn’t mentioned in the Q & A.

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