Monday, March 05, 2007


Weekend reading

I finished Small Misty Mountain this weekend (see below) - it's wonderful and rich and I will be re-reading it, and now I find that I want to give copies to all of my family members and friends. Rob McCall is a naturalist and spiritual minister in the manner of Emerson and Thoreau. And possibly Whitman, and maybe Henry Beston. Here are a few samples:

"The remote places on earth are like the remote places in the soul, and visiting them is restorative. Sweet, wordless mysteries of life." (p.30)

"All religion is a pale copy of the living Scripture that is Nature." (p.229)

The latter could be the thesis statement for the entire book. I went from this book to Mary Oliver's American Primitive (Little, Brown 1983), which I've read many times and keep going back to, and which, at the end, always makes me think, So this is what you do to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry... you tell everything, and then some. Her choice of words leaves me filled with awe and gratitude - good emotions to have during this highly uncertain and often unattractive time of year. This resonated, from the poem "Little Sister Pond" (p.65):

"All day I turn the pages of two or three good books
that cost plenty to set down
and even more to live by

and all day I turn over my own best thoughts,
each one
as heavy and slow to flow
as a stone in a field full of wet and tossing flowers."

The best poems describe a person's life, don't they - both the outer and the inner life of the poet - while at the same time making the reader say, This is is my life. In art of all kinds, I find I am most interested in what illustrates both the very specific and the widely universal. At the same time. A neat trick, when it can be done, though trick is the wrong word, because the thing itself is not meant to meanly deceive, but rather to open outward to include everyone. Well, whatever it can be called, both books this weekend managed it.

Another long walk in the forty-degree weather yesterday, more chattering happy birds seen, lots of snow-melt and mud visible underneath. Today, I'm finishing up with the books from the sale on Saturday, clearing the decks, and taking stock, as it were.

Thanks! I especially like the quote about religion.

Oh yeah, you might like the Reading & Book Forum.
Looks interesting - thanks, I will check it out.
I ordered Small Misty Mountain from my local bookseller after you wrote this and picked it up today.

It's beautiful! I'm still in the forward, and I'm enthralled. Here I've been wishing there were still a few Transcendentalists around. I just have to convince my husband to move to Maine first, I guess, where he assures me our great grandchildren will feel like they belong.

Anyway, thanks for the book tip! Best recommendation I've had this year.
Hi Katrina - I'm so glad you like it thus far. It gets better and better as you read through, I think. You can catch his Almanack radio segments on WERU, streaming on the internet worldwide... I've been listening intermittently for years.

Or you can move to Maine. It's a big state - much of which is very empty and very beautiful. It has a scrubby toughness that I cherish. Plus lots of bookshops.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?