It’s the surprise discovery that ties everything together. It’s the jolt of clarity that I feel in in my core. It’s the suddenly acquired measure of wisdom that will be part of me for the rest of my days. It’s what I hope to find when I read. And it’s why I write.
The greatest Aha Moment that I’ve ever read is Carver’s, “A Small Good Thing.” If you haven’t read it, stop whatever you’re doing and read it. And if you’ve read it before, go ahead and read it again. I apologize for my insistent tone. (Pause) Okay, now that you’ve read or reread the story, and it’s fresh in your mind, here’s why it’s at the top of my list of Aha Moments: It’s because Carver’s writing, as pure as it is, allows me to feel the baker’s anguish so deeply that tears well in my eyes each time I read the piece. Although, perhaps the tears that still spring in my eyes are tears of jealousy in wishing that I could create a piece of work that stops a reader in his tracks.
Three other Aha moments come to mind. One is “Cathedral,” and it is the title story in Caver’s collection that contains “A Small Good Thing.” Another is in the film, An Officer and a Gentleman, where Zack sacrifices his chance to achieve record time for the obstacle course, by instead of finishing, going back and coaxing Seegar up and over the rope climb.
Finally IMHO the totally hopeless and gruesome choice that Sophie has to make, (Sophie’s Choice) takes place in what I believe is the greatest of the Great American Novel.