In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with K.R. Karr, West Coast writer and academic.
Contributor K.R. Karr on Puget Sound with the Washington State Ferry in the background. Photo credit: Kristina Berger.
What is your favorite scene from Little Women?
My favorite scene from Little Women is when Jo comes home with her hair cut, having sold it to pay for Marmee’s train ticket after Mr. March is wounded in battle. This scene really demonstrates to me Jo’s inner qualities, as well as her love for her family.
Who are some of your other “imaginary heroes” from literature?
I love this phrase “imaginary heroes” and some of mine include Emily of Deep Valley, Jane Eyre, Cassandra Mortmain of I Capture the Castle, Renee in Colette’s The Vagabond, Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson of A Room with a View, Nancy Drew, and Anne of Green Gables.
Amy goes to Europe, Jo goes to New York . . . where did your pivotal “coming of age” moment take place?
Like Amy, I have had some coming-of-age moments abroad, specifically in Germany, which feels like a second home to me. When navigating a new language and culture, I learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses. Counterintuitively, I shed most of my normal anxieties and habits in a strange place, becoming a bolder person more generally. I also noticed that, after a first pivotal trip to Germany at the age of 20, my writing began to grow more thoughtful and more authentically what I wanted to say, and continues to do so with every foray into the unknown.
Jo has both a writing space and a “scribbling suit” in the book. What does your writing space look like? What’s your favorite scribbling suit?
I’m very particular about my writing space. I’m currently in search of a new desk, as the one I’ve been using has just become too small a surface. I like to have my desk in a cozy corner – or, in the case of the new one, it will be in a closet hung with pictures and passages from literary figures whom I admire. (I’m still on the lookout for an image of Louisa May Alcott, but you can bet I have a few of Goethe!) I don’t have a scribbling suit per se, but there are certain items of clothing I wear to be more comfortable for long bouts of work – which include a lightweight shawl that clings around the shoulders, leaving my hands unimpeded.
Tell us about the sisters, or sister figures, in your life.
I have one sister, who is eighteen months my senior. We have a lot in common – including a love of Little Women! – but our personalities are very different. I’ve always been enormously proud of her, as she is a gifted musician, primarily on the piano. In fact, her favorite scene in Little Women is when Beth receives the new piano from Mr. Laurence . . . not just because of the piano, but because of the connection that is formed between the two through that act of generosity. One of the qualities I appreciate about my sister is her ability to step up when I or another member of the family needs help or support. She’s very Jo-ish in that way. When we were around ages nine and ten, she gave me a well-intentioned haircut that ended up being not so great, as you can imagine! So when I had to get my now way-too-short hair evened out, she voluntarily got her hair cut the same length so I wouldn’t be alone. To me, that says it all right there.
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