A round-up of what I’ve been reading this week. I’m looking hard for hope and resilience right now.Please comment with what I should read next!
My students and I argued over Joan Didion’s classic 1976 essay: “Why I Write”, wondering about the difference between thinking and seeing, between creating and receiving. I love her notes about grammar’s “infinite power” as she says, “Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned.” I feel the same when I teach grammar– it’s an animal we know instinctively but whose power can be unwieldy if we don’t see its crouching movements through the heath.
A story of resilience, imagination, and our changing environment, pursued through a nighttime view of magnificent fireflies Summer in the Heartsick Mountains.
Coming home from school each day means flopping into my magenta armchair with plentiful coffee and a book. Today I grabbed Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, and read the first 40 pages without stopping. I think this may have been the most flawless opening chapter I have ever read. It’s a party scene– a Christening that becomes soaked in gin and home-made orange juice. There is such delicious chaos in the scene: shifting perspectives between Bert and Fix as they’re both magnetized to Beverly; the need for ice on a hot day and the sense that everything must change; the effects of alcohol on adults (and on children who innocently scoop drinks from dozing adults and down them!); a priest dancing a slow drag with the slightly-less-pretty younger sister of the hostess. Amidst the turns of the narrative, there is a sense of authority from our writer as she very knowingly sets us at this starting point. It somehow feels deliberate and unexplicable at the same time. I’m so excited to slurp up this book over this weekend.
I’ve been slowly tiptoeing my way through C.D. Wright’s Tremble. Such grace and mystery imbue her poems; I feel I have to read each one three times to approach comprehension.
I also loved her poem “In a Word, a World,” which I will share with students to show them the weirdness and power of words.