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Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Cheers for E.L.K. (1930 - 2013)

E. L. Konigsburg was a very special person in my life.  Sadly, I never met her, but it feels as though I’d known her forever.  I was twelve years old when my mother gave me The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for my birthday.  Quite honestly, it blew my mind: it took place in a museum I knew, not too far from where I was growing up in New York City; it had big, exciting ideas about real art; it had independent characters who were treated as though they knew how to think, and think they did.  I read that book again.  And later, as a parent and a teacher, again.  And again.
I do think that book changed my life.   It changed how I thought about the world around me.
I might not have gotten an art history degree if not for The Mixed-Up Files; I might never have written Chasing Vermeer.  Ever since my first mystery came out in 2004, I’ve talked about how much Konigsburg’s work has meant to me, and about how instrumental what you read as a kid can be in determining who you become.  I do believe that the words and stories absorbed early in life can matter deeply.  
Yesterday Hold Fast, my fifth mystery, hit the New York Times bestseller list.  Would it be there without E. L. Konigsburg?  Would I be writing today if not for The Mixed-Up Files?  A great many things might not have happened.
Thank you, Mrs. Konigsburg, for all you’ve given me and generations of other devoted fans.  A book that gives you yourself, no matter who you are, is truly something.


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