Friday, January 04, 2013

A Big Mushroom and a Big Thought

The mushroom is from two years ago, when I went for a forest walk with my Grandson,Tanner.  And the thought is from today's reading in North of Jamaica. I love this book--it is quite a short one--and I will be sorry when I have consumed it all.

"It is the kind of story you read about in Chekhov, and I think of Chekhov's letter to his brother, where he speaks of their bad upbringing, of "that flesh raised on the rod", the brutalized, inconsiderate life of people who are emotionally or culturally--in the deep sense of the word--illiterate. It is necessary to refine oneself, to lift oneself by one's boot-straps out of the muck of insensitivity. The secret of living well is to treat other people decently, that's all. It was a secret my father never learned, and all my life I have been trying to learn it."
Louis Simpson, North of Jamaica, page 69.

I have been reading Louis Simpson because he died in September--joining a heavenly host of other writers that I always planned to express my gratitude to--and I just found out about it. Robert Hass had pointed me in his direction--as being a useful model for the kind of writing I was trying to do. I hadn't known until last week that Simpson had written an autobiography, which was published in 1972. The copy I got has a worn dust jacket, and underneath very clean pale olive boards with a deep yellow spine embossed with gold lettering.

When I wake up in the night, I am reading on my Christmas Kindle Paperwhite, which glows in the dark, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookshop, so it's all about reading, books (and writing) isn't it? Well, isn't it??
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