My friend J. phoned to ask me a computer question but before she could get started I had to tell her about the book I was reading. I was sitting in the sunroom with the doors open, smelling the newly mowed grass and reading Natalie Goldberg's novel Banana Rose (Bantam). "Oh God, how is it?" she wanted to know. "It's good," I said, "really good. Just like her other books. Her words just pull you in." We both laughed then because we had been a bit nervous about this book with the goofy title. Natalie Goldberg has written two great booksabout writing—but could she actually write? Goldberg's story takes place in the 1960s but there is no distance between then and now. The narrator is not talking about how it was back then—she is living the story right now. Banana Rose is a young hippie woman trying to make sense of her life, falling in love, making painful choices, and dealing with the death of her best friend. I couldn't stop reading this book. I held it open in one hand while I brushed my teeth, reading about love and hippies in New Mexico. I read it while I ate a piece of rhubarb pie—the crust was perfect, crumbling in my mouth and letting out the tender sweet flavour of the rhubarb—while angst and alienation unfolded in Minneapolis. I couldn't read it while I was driving my daughter across town, but I was still in the story, still feeling the immediacy of Goldberg's writing. The day looked brighter, the neighbour's lawns looked greener, and I had a big smile on my face. That night, propped up beside my snoring partner, I was back in New Mexico, moving slowly and painfully on. It was the middle of the night when I got to the end of the book, but I turned it over, and started reading it all over again.