The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference kicks off this Friday, and over on the Dallas Morning News‘ website (sub. req.) writer, UNT professor, and Mayborn director George Getshow has an interview with keynote speaker Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife and One Hundred Names for Love, in which she speaks about the role of language in her marriage after her husband’s stroke robbed him of the ability to speak.
We shared our work with each other, discussed books, talked by phone several times a day when one of us was traveling and played endless word games. For instance, Paul used to improvise silly songs about me throughout the day, little domestic operettas really. I include some in One Hundred Names.
The story behind the title of “One Hundred Names for Love” speaks volumes about your shared love affair with words. Would you share it with our readers?
Paul felt sad that he couldn’t remember any of his many pet names for me. So I suggested, partly as a form of speech therapy, that he try making up some new ones. And with much effort, he did, conjuring up a new name every day for 100 days in a row. All zany and wonderful. Whatever aphasia allowed out he tried to give a romantic spin to: “My Little Bucket of Hair,” “Dream Hobbit,” “Spy Elf of the Morning Hallelujahs,” “Smooch Owl” and so on.
Photo by Michael Weschler