Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Expecting an Answer

Day 180, and I am reading Dreamers of the Day, by Mary Doria Russell, a book that is pulling me in with its story and history. It starts in the same territory I left with Houdini Pie, by Paul Michel, as there are bootleggers and trouble with war and influenza, but now we have gone to Egypt with Lawrence of Arabia!

Agnes, the narrator, tells us we don't realize the terrible effects of the flu, and how soldiers spread it on the trains, and how more people died of the flu than in battle in World War I. That is indeed sobering. But I got the devastation from William Maxwell's work before this, in They Came Like Swallows. That was sad and poignant all the way through. Dreamers is lively and fun and, as with Russell's other novels, I am learning so much about the people, the cultural and political conflicts of the time, and the inner life.

I am also still reading In the Next Galaxy, by Ruth Stone, poems. They are marvelous, simple, and rich. I can turn anywhere in the book and find something odd and wonderful, edgy or disturbing: "Corn is universal, / so like a Roman senator." Or: "The play yard with its automobile tire / hanging from the one tree, like a lynching."

Or, from the poem titled "Not Expecting an Answer":

This tedious letter to you...
what is one life to another?
We walk around inside our bags,
sucking it in, spewing it out.

My sister, who had a lovely time in Michigan at the shore and here with family, has to go home to troubles in her house. She can sigh at the above, and I can sigh for her. I am not expecting an answer.

1 comment:

Sherry O'Keefe said...

after vowing "no more books" for this summer, this post is close to making me break my vow.