1 Quote, 4 Books, 5 Pictures, and a Hope

Words over pictures, that’s my preference. I know I’m very much in the minority, however. Emojis, images, and simulacra carry the day. Tweets, texts, and electronic mail have often jettisoned grammatically-correct sentences with coherent written expression. I get it. We want things fast–whether it’s our mail, our food, our energy, or our messages. People who know me well joke of my being the Luddite, and I’m guilty as charged. I love nearly all things involving the written word–notebooks, pencils, pens, pads, journals, desks, reading chairs, soft-shaded reading lamps, and the old classic: the smell and feel of books–real books, with real paper, preferably with sewn bindings, books you love to read, hold, look at, and treasure. Why? Because they become part of you. They take you places you’d otherwise never venture.

Below are four volumes I’m either reading currently or recently completed. Each was/is worth the time required, if you’re of a literary bent.

I discovered William Gay’s writing less than two years ago and he so captured me, I am reading his entire oeuvre. If you like Southern Gothic literature a la Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Larry Brown, Cormac McCarthy, you’ll adore Gay’s works, too.
Short stories are perhaps my favorite genre of literary fiction, and when you see that Jennifer Egan is the editor of a volume of some of the best short fiction, you’re in good company.
I read almost all of Dostoyevsky’s works when I was studying philosophy and literature, when a young man. He still moves me. Why? I think it’s because his life was extraordinary and he was unafraid to follow ideas to their natural outworkings. He wrote scenes of ballroom dancing where French was spoken and also wrote of crazed men who took atheism and existentialism to their logical conclusions. He was granted faith and repentance in his life and he, in my view, died a Christian, after a life of struggles with gambling, booze, women, prison, and producing some of the most important works in world literature.
Alice Munro is a clear master of the short story. She has a precise eye for human mannerisms, human tragedy, human pretense, and a marvelous eye for landscape. Her silences in her stories ring out like Whitman’s yawps.

As promised, some pictures, too.

Enjoy the images, yes, but give the written word a try. Words, when strung together well, last. They seep into us. We are linguistic creatures. We write plays, stories, and novels. We write and read poems. We put quotes on headstones. We memorize Scripture. We’re designed a word people so that we reflect the Word. May we always be so.

This last one does not really do justice to my intention. Here was the context of my intention. I had just walked several miles. The sun was out. It was breezy. Temperatures hovered in the 80s. The field above is adjacent to where I walked. The wind was blowing and the crimson clover swayed with the winds. The red tops bent from the invisible hands of the winds. And when I was a boy, my family had a horse. She was a Quarter Horse named Poco. I used to ride her bareback some days and she could smell the crimon clover in the spring and summer, and she’d fight against me if I tried to ride her going away from the clover. She loved it. I would often give in to her stubbornness because I loved to watch her munch on the clover. Her whole demeanor would change when the clover was lush. And today when the sunlight and the wind hit the clover just so, I was taken back to my days sitting on Poco’s back, watching her munch clover.

*The bird pictures are courtesy of my friend Jim. He knows beauty when he sees it. The other shots are mine, from areas where I often trod.

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