Like many of you, I am a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed. I’ve used her books Tiny Beautiful Things and Wild several times in courses I’ve taught at Rollins, and now I listen to her podcasts with Steve Almond on WBUR Boston radio. In the podcast series, Strayed and Almond continue the “Dear Sugar” tradition (upon which Tiny Beautiful Things is based) by reading letters from listeners who seek help on a particular problem, and in “Sugarish” style, they speak truth to the seeker and their listeners. These podcasts are wonderful and I highly recommend checking them out.
Today I share one podcast in particular called “Former Hellraisers (Should We Share Our Past With Our Children?)”. I found this conversation intriguing not so much because the topic interests me—I have no children, and if I did I don’t think I’d be hesitant to tell them most of what I did in my own reckless youth—but because it brings together two of my favorite writers, Strayed and Mary Karr, author of two other books I’ve loved and taught often, The Liars’ Club and Lit. Both women made lots of wrong turns and poor decisions in their early lives, and both were able to turn those wrong turns and poor decisions into literature. Listen to two bright, funny, excellent writers talk about what it’s like to raise children and have to say, “Do as I say, not as I did.” That’s exactly what my mother told me.