On the Road A code No abode A load O Fried Dried Preoccupied Gay bashing Whiskey splashing Cursing Nursing Old wounds Groucho Marx Sparks Car parks Could not stand...moreOn the Road A code No abode A load O Fried Dried Preoccupied Gay bashing Whiskey splashing Cursing Nursing Old wounds Groucho Marx Sparks Car parks Could not stand Drive the land Go home. (less)
We all write poetry in our mind (don't you?) as we work in the garden, or notice the sudden growth of a child, or the languishing age of a parent. Car...moreWe all write poetry in our mind (don't you?) as we work in the garden, or notice the sudden growth of a child, or the languishing age of a parent. Carol Lynn Pearson does it with success. Her verses are simple and succinct, yet convey complex emotions. This collection touched my heart.(less)
I don't even need to begin to discuss the beauty of this as a novel. Byatt has created something that takes on a life of its own. She is a time travel...more I don't even need to begin to discuss the beauty of this as a novel. Byatt has created something that takes on a life of its own. She is a time traveler, a historian and a god who has reappeared in the 19th Century, rewritten history and gently deposited intellectual individuals who breath and think and feel of their own accord. No, if this were simply a novel, it would be wonderfully wrought. Instead, it stands as unearthed components of our own lives and histories and we must come to terms with their existence.
I apologize to those of you who also feel a connection to this book. I understand why you might think it, but it doesn't belong to you. It is all mine. I possess it and it possesses me. Much in the way Roland felt so connected to his initial discovery of the Ash letter drafts. Very much like Maud's revealed connection to LaMotte. I love Randolph Henry Ash and I love Christabel LaMotte. I love the letters they sent. I love the limited time together they spent. I love their bond.
Ever since I learned that Martha Washington burned the letters she and George passed to each other, I've thought deeply about personal correspondence, privacy of individuals and the power of a love letter. Can you imagine the repercussions felt if we had access to so many of the letters that have been destroyed in a fit of anger and hurt, or empassioned concern of discovery? By such revelations, whole nations could fall; by such deeply-expressed feeling, individual hearts could be mended.
Is there a moral (or immoral) obligation to save such records? Those truths that are written down, rather than merely spoken, do they have a greater merit for the annals of history? If we could replace page for page the reams of lifeless accounting sheets and legal code that fill our archives with passionate letters of the heart would we be better off... or the worse for it?
Even calculated Ellen Ash understood the need for these written words to gain a life of their own:
"...When he was lying there he said, 'Burn what they should not see,' and I said, 'Yes,' I promised. At such times, it seems, a kind of dreadful energy comes, to do things quickly, before action becomes impossible. He hated the new vulgarity of contemporary biography, the ransacking of Dicken's desk for his most trivial memoranda... He said often to me, burn what is alive for us with the life of our memory, and let no one else make idle curios or lies of it. I remember being much struck with Harriet Martineau, in her autobiography, saying that to print private letters was a form of treachery - as though one should tell the intimate talk of two friends with their feet on the fender, on winter nights. I have made a fire here, and burned some things. I shall burn more... There are things I cannot burn. Nor ever I think look at again. There are things here that are not mine, that I could not be a party to burning. And there are our dear letters, from all those foolish years of seperation. What can I do? I cannot leave them to be buried with me. Trust may be betrayed. I shall lay these things to rest with him now, to await my coming. Let the earth take them (pp. 480-81)." "I want them to have a sort of duration, she said to herself. A demi-eternity (p. 501)."
I feel inclined to create a repository, a private bank to store letters that friends and lovers can no longer hold, but cannot bring themselves to destroy, because of the sacred nature of the feelings that initiated the writing of them. If you know of these kind of letters, feel free to send them to me and trust to their safe-keeping (though I may peek at a few of them). They must be allowed to live on. (less)
I can't believe I am the first to read (perhaps not to read for I bought the book secondhand!) and review this beautiful book.
Ms. Thayne allows narrative prose to share space with lyric verse in a show and tell manner of her experiences traveling through the Holy Land. Her description alone would be enough to delight, but then she counter-balances it with a poignant piece of poetry to emphasize what she just introduced. One of her qualities in writing (which I prefer!) is that she doesn't explain everything. Some of her allusions are mysteries except, I'm sure, to a few intimates and I like being let in (almost)on the joke.
I loved the entirety of What Is It to Be a Woman Here?, A Bedouin Lullaby, and On the Mount of Beatitudes. In addition, there were several little gems hidden within the poems.
Here are my favorite excerpts:
from For David [David] "sent Goliath a stone farewell."
from Having Shopped "You take your loaf of unwrapped anything, pay your pound and compare the price with what you couldn't get at home."
From Massada "Charged with triumphant carnage, perverse, the particles of a private holocaust wound the stones to keep the gusts of life unsullied over the Dead Sea."
From The Question of Old Trees "The olive trees alone would make this holy ground. In their shadowy reaches and rootings they were awake to the intimate sojourner, his peace fugitive even before the incalculable fraud."
From Elsa Epstein, Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar "You detail this post card world where the sweat of the brow provides the garden that Eve ate her way out of."
Even the whimsy of Ossuary is instilled with depth:
Ossuary (Where the bones come shiny!) Sticks and stones can cover bones When stacked by ageless art.
And shovels bring up everything
But flesh and breath and heart.
Emma Lou Thayne writes as if she does not intend to share and, therefore, we are able to receive her thoughts unmuddled by public opinion, fresh and clear as if we were seeing through her eyes. Her honesty is that of a child, her instinct of a mother, but her voice is of a righteous woman seeking communication with her God.
"If that land is holy, it is not because of the antiquity in its rubble, the blood in its crevices, the voices in its icons or shrines - nor even the stark beauty of its redemption. It must be holy for furnishing a private encounter with the whirlwind..."
*I also learned an interesting little fact: "The long strips of goat hair that make the tent are woven, one new strip a year, by the wife whose tent it will always be. When dry, the goat's hair is porous, admits the wind to cool and clear; when wet, it closes like knit fingers to keep out the storm."
What is it about Emma Lou Thayne that touches me so?
Her writing isn't extremely elegant, it's excellent, but it's not precise. It's real. She's real....moreWhat is it about Emma Lou Thayne that touches me so?
Her writing isn't extremely elegant, it's excellent, but it's not precise. It's real. She's real. She's the most beautiful, REAL woman ... except. Except MY mother. Maybe that's it. She's another version of the woman who raised me and taught me to be me.
Emma Lou Thayne is what true, real womanhood is. It's not the won't-answer-the-door-without-makeup-coiffed-spent-an-hour-with-my-trainer-today-look-at-my-oversize-stitching-on-my-undersized-jeans-with-rhinestones-in-the-shape-of-a-fleur-de-lis-on-the-back-pocket-pedicured-toes woman. (Wow. Did I just release a lot of rancor!)
Instead, she is the mother who might show up at school with a curler still in her hair bringing the assignment that you both worked on late into the night and now you've forgotten; the one who'll answer the door still in her pajamas for the neighbor who needs to borrow some milk. She's the mother at the tennis courts who probably shouldn't be wearing the tennis skirt, but doesn't worry about her thighs and then plays a tough game and is perfectly content letting others see her sweaty and red-faced. She's the one you'll call to come over when you learn about a sick family member and just want a shoulder to cry on but don't want to worry about whether there are dishes in the sink and the floor isn't swept because you've been to her house before in the same condition. She is earthy and warm and rugged.
Now take those characteristics and apply them to her writing. Reading her prose and poetry is a bit voyeuristic, because she shares EVERYTHING. And in her sharing you find a kindred soul.
Emma Lou Thayne understands me and I want to be more like her.(less)
8 p.m. on the First Day of the Diet That Lasted Till 4 (aren't her titles splendid?!)
This excerpt from Ricochet:
"Too often women fail to acquire the intellectual wings that can lift them to where they are prepared to be challenged, not trapped, by circumstance. When what you have to do is what you like to do, you have attained one of the ultimate freedoms. That can happen only when preparation has made it possible (p. 24)."
"Take on the buoyance of birds. Take root in the crevices of the world."