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A Berg In The Hand

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on May 5, 2006 1:34PM

berg.jpgElizabeth Berg is a true Chicago treasure. Originally from Minnesota, but now settled here, she has written over sixteen books, is listed by current best-selling authors as one of their “favorite” writers, and of course, the ultimate for any novelist (or no), her novel “Open House” was one of Oprah’s Book Club books. Now, we’re kidding of course, it’s not the ultimate, but it sure doesn’t hurt, and we won’t knock anyone or anything that’s getting people to read. So, here’s a quick shout out to Oprah, book clubs and those McDonalds paper-tray-placemat things.

Berg’s newest novel, “We Are All Welcome Here”, is based on the true story of Pat Raming who contracted polio when she was pregnant, and gave birth to her daughter, Marianne, in an iron lung. She managed to raise three children from a wheelchair, and survive 35 years after she contracted the disease. Marianne, now grown and a Berg fan, wrote to the author, telling her the amazing story of her mother. Berg says, "It wasn't so much Marianne's story that made me give her a call; rather, it was the photograph she had enclosed of her mother. I was so taken with the lack of pity and the strength and joy I believed I saw on her face.”

Berg's novel is the story of Paige Dunn, confined to a wheelchair, only able to move her head, and her struggle to raise her daughter Diana. They're saving grace is Peacie, a day worker that lives in the house and keeps things somewhat sane.

What runs through both stories, both fictional and non, is the lack of self-pity. We could learn a few things from Paige Dunn and Pat Raming, sometimes, life ain't quite so hard as we make it out to be.

And that, is one to grow on.

You can see Elizabeth Berg on Tues., May 9, 7:00PM at Sulzer Regional Library,
4455 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL (312) 744-7616
Thurs., May 11, 12:00PM at The Bookstall at Chestnut Court, 811 W. Elm, Winnetka, IL (847) 446-8880