HOW’S THE READING GOING?
Sometimes I get bogged down with my reading. I wonder if this happens to anybody else? I start a book with enthusiasm and then somewhere in the middle it becomes much less interesting. That is happening to me this week. Though Grant and Sherman at Vicksburg are muddling around some in the middle of The Man Who Saved the Union, they are more interesting than the endless imagined dialogue of Scott and Zelda, mostly fighting. I won’t give up on Grant, but I am considering giving up on Scott and Zelda as they are imagined in Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
A writer I never tire of is Wendell Berry. I probably own more books by Wendell Berry than any other author and I guess there’s good reason for that, since I claim to never tire of him. He writes essays, poems, short stories, and novels. Janisse Ray dedicated her book The Seed Underground to him. I don’t know the reason, but I do know that he has championed sustainable agriculture for decades and his writing, in every genre, is inspiring in so many ways.
Yesterday I was reading one of his short stories. In this story a character named Burley Coulter is wondering around in the hills of Northern Kentucky at night hunting with his dogs. Burley is an ordinary person, not especially known for intellect or action. And, I know nothing about hunting, I have never tramped the hills of Kentucky at night or in the daytime. I am not very interested in dogs, and certainly not hunting dogs. And yet, my interest in the story never waned. Go figure, or go read Wendell Berry.
If you have not read anything by Wendell Berry, I urge you to try a poem, an essay, a short story or a novel. Of his novels I recommend Hannah Coulter. More about Wendell Berry another time.
Those of us who write are often ask what author we would most like to meet. I’d like a round table discussion with Wendell Berry, Wallace Stegner, who I believe was Berry’s teacher at Stanford, and Louise Erdrich. Janisse Ray would like to be there too, I’ll bet.
I’ll hope my reading enthusiasm picks up. Perhaps I have too many irons in the fire, too many books on the read, I mean. One more day with Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and then I’ll make a decision. I loved Jessica Mitford’s biography of Zelda so much, I’m surprised I’m not doing better with Z. Jessica Mitford also wrote movingly about Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Enough rambling. Back to the books.