Harold and his Purple Crayon Odyssey Among Other Things in this Week’s NYTBR

To live above the merely personal does not require plying oars against colossal currents, either. “Harold and the Purple Crayon” is a great little book and deals with its own verities — the world is not in your control; courage begins at free fall; the best path is not the straight path. The lessons of the “Odyssey,” minus the sex. Harold draws his dream in crayon and then wants to go home, to his window, which has been there all along. The key to his destiny is that window, which is something to look out of, away from himself. At no time is Harold self-­conscious, self-pitying or self-congratulatory. He knows how to draw a life, and how to live.

From “How to Write Great” by Roger Rosenblatt among other entertaining, illuminating, and sharp “How To” essays in this week’s New York Times Book Review.  (I’m partial to Colson Whitehead’s “How to Write” myself.)


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3 responses to “Harold and his Purple Crayon Odyssey Among Other Things in this Week’s NYTBR

  1. Thanks for sharing this! That’s why I love Harold, too. :)


  2. jewellrhodesasu

    I love the inclusion of Harold and the Purple Crayon in Rosenblatt’s essay. It seems so right to tie imagination to the world of children’s literature, and the skill of invention to the world of adult literature, which is often a bit jaded–how many adult authors, looking for something new under the sun, pull out the moon?

    I recently read the book Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, in which he stressed an old adage: we are all born artists, free in our imaginations. As we learn the “rules,” we forget how to be free. To become creative again, we must work our way back to that childhood freedom, where imagination plays without boundary or restriction. Harold is a perfect example of the power of true creativity.

    Thanks so much for bringing these articles to my attention!



  3. I love what Rosenblatt said about surprise vs anticipation in this same article: “Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening.” That’s something I’ve long felt but never had the ability to explain.


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