Giddy: A Response to The Book of Mev by Lucy Hedges

by Mark Chmiel

Alexis Mary Lassus insisted I get to know Lucy Hedges. We met for the first time last summer at Local Harvest Café. Within the first ten minutes of sitting with her, I felt so at ease and at home. She sent me the following in a hand-written six-page letter recently. She will be doing a Share the Wealth soon on her life in nursing.


Dear Markus,

This is a long overdue book review on Book of Mev. I’m not sure why it took me so long. I think partly because it was so obviously well written, gut wrenchingly sad and real and uber tangible, yet so not tangible, that I felt like anything I told you about it, you already knew.

The chapter Face to Face/1 was exactly how any person would want their love story to begin. “A soul laugh, so refreshingly different from the superficial chitter chatter titters, hoots and sniggers heard on an all too regular basis. I wanted to fuse with that laugh.”

“I wanted to fuse with that laugh….” Well Mark, you made me want to fuse with that laugh. I didn’t have to know or meet or engage with Mev herself (trust me, would if I could) to feel like I know her.

“… for I had seized with a clinical bout of shyness such that I could have made Emily Dickinson look like Robin Williams doing stand-up.” Amazing, amen!

You and Mev’s first conversation was such a win for you and the reader. After you successfully held up your end of the conversation, the reader could feel you making the “cha-ching” arm thrusting in victory over your ability to contribute and stay cool until the conversation was complete. Like all the decisions you made in this life so far were all worth it in order to succeed at this one conversation with Mev. Nice.

Gustavo Gutierrez’s response to Mev’s question about consumerism in America/Catholics. p. 33. Thank you Mev for asking the question. Thank you Gustavo for answering so nicely and simply. Thank you Mark for putting this in your work and therefore into the world.

I must have reread that paragraph 8 times after finishing the book as a reference to myself.

“I wasn’t up to the threesome-ing. Let them share their souls, I thought, a little jealously.” You LOVED her.

The entire chapter Face to Face/2 was really well written. Such a important chapter. Mev, letting you in. You letting the reader in. Short, to the point, Important.

Thank you for teaching me big words like equanimous.

Also, Being Present/1 WAS SO GOOD.

Chapter: Gratitudes/1. Let’s just say you’re not the only one to take to Mev’s invention with the rosary. “… that night I knew what she meant.”


“But all excellent things are as difficult as they are rare.” Staying in love is rare.

As I have been going back through the book, I’m realizing it’s close to impossible not to reread the thing in its entirety. Hence my being on page 51.

Sitting/1 — Light the fire, George!

Did Mev ever tell you of a time someone either didn’t want their picture taken or was upset that she took their picture? Did this ever happen to you? Lots of times when I travel, I’m told I have to ask permission to take pictures. I don’t care for that idea, I understand it. But it makes the picture disappear. Pg. 58 made me think of this.

Picture of boy in pew on pg. 61 warmed my heart.

Did Lucho ever make it home? Did anyone ever expose the Colombian Congressman’s torture chamber?

Crisis/1–Mev is tangible.

Tracy Chapman! What a woman.

The transition out of fairy tale love story to, “OK, let’s get shit done.” Was somewhat seamless.

I just took off the Robin’s egg blue cover with the Mev photos. Your name looks strong on the binding: Chmiel.

“It doesn’t cost anything to treat people with respect!” This shook me to my core. Brilliant! Second that notion Goreth! Preach!

Pg. 136–What a whip! Bazinga! What a good back and forth!

There could should be a class, mandatory at every university/institution based on the people and words of Reading/3: Selections from Mev’s interviews.

Gustavo is awesome because he puts simple answers to complex questions in easy thoughts, i.e., “we end up being well-fed, but empty within” and “we end up becoming a uniformized humanity, which is the opposite of a unified humanity.”

OK. So started writing this review over a week ago. It’s now Thursday December 12, 2013 and I’m not even halfway through the book. Also, I imagine that you’ve done your own review of the events of the second half of the book over the past 5-6 days since your good friend Pete’s passing.

So basically Mark, your book is incredible I’ve read it three times and have yet to be finished with it. I recommend it to people all the time but refrain from giving out my copy because I’m nervous I won’t get it back. Maybe I’ll work on that.