Delivering a toast is one of the speeches I had to give as part of my Toastmaster journey to Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award. I chose to do it on an imaginary toast that I would have given at the launch of my daughter Anita’s book, Love Songs for a Lost Continent which was published in 2018. This short story collection won the 2016 Mary Roberts Rinehart Award.
Dear Friends and Family, today we are celebrating the launch of Anita’s book – Love songs for the Lost Continent. As her mother, nothing makes me happier than seeing this achievement. It is an honor to celebrate the launch of this short story collection that many notable critics have praised as unique and bold. Let me read you one of the endorsements:
“Surprising, surreal sometimes, and strong in theme and exploration, these stories probe the limits of love, the fluidity of home, and the pressures and resistance of women in a patriarchal landscape without ever losing humor, engagement, and a quiet elegance and tenderness. They move with assurance through ideas, themes, and landscapes revealing what is new within what might have been expected. A very strong debut.”
—Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas and The Face, Cartography of the Void
The path to today’s celebration has not been straight.
Ever since she was a child, Anita loved reading books and writing. I still remember the day we moved to Palo Alto. She was seven. Her first question after we checked into the hotel was “Mom, where is the library? I want to get my card”. I remember when I first read her the Betsy-Tacy books. She said she wanted to be just like Betsy, the imaginative child who dreams of being a writer and who loves to tell stories. When she was in high school, and her stories won many competitions, I was overjoyed. Always an overachiever, at UC Berkeley she triple-majored. I waited to see what path she would choose after college. When she chose to study law and then became a civil litigator, I was a little apprehensive. My daughter, the soft-spoken, congenial girl, with her nose in the books, a litigation attorney? Today, I am so thrilled that she decided to go back to her first love – writing – and that she has been rewarded for sharing it with the world.
The road to today’s book-launch is paved with creative brilliance, lots of hard work and determination, and lots of rejections and resilience. I applaud her for juggling a full-time legal- writing career, three young kids, and still finding time to write this great collection of stories.
Please join me in a toast to Anita, my Betsy. May you continue to write great works of fiction and may your audience grow!