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all there is, RIP james salter

Children are our crop, our fields, our earth. They are birds let loose into darkness. They are errors renewed.

~ James Salter

I returned home late yesterday evening after an entire day spent in a community theater whilst my biggest love ran through two different dress rehearsals for the dance recitals she will be in this coming weekend.  Well, if I’m honest, I didn’t actually spend the entire day inside the theater.  When I wasn’t there singing along in my seat or trying to push the kids off the stage so I could take my turn, I was making three trips up and down the freeway fetching and carrying and loving.  Loving it all, for sure, but by 9 PM I was feeling a little foggy.  Sometimes a few minutes in a whirling spa can clear the mind, but for people like us, though, it’s mostly storytelling and books that seem to cure any kind of weariness.  And so it was that I found myself sitting at my desk downstairs in my study, wandering into the online bookshop for succor.  [Read more…]

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the true love, the deepest, the only joy

Children are our crop, our fields, our earth. They are birds let loose into darkness. They are errors renewed.

~ James Salter, Light Years

The other evening I could not sleep.  It wasn’t typical of other sleepless nights where I lie awake for an hour and eventually fall back to sleep.  I had this sense of alertness like I was meant to be doing something, like I was meant to rise and start the day.  Only it was pitch dark and completely still.  Three o’clock and then four o’clock turning into five and I tossed about as the rest of the house settled in slumber.  On nights like these, I often imagine God is trying to talk to me only it’s so aggravating because I don’t know what to do or whether what I’m hearing is real or just a confused projection of some subconscious will working its way to the surface.  Suddenly I hear a stirring downstairs and then footsteps on the floorboards coming toward my room.  My oldest daughter has had a nightmare and wants to crawl into my bed.  Still clutching her blanket, she squeezes in next to me and we spoon like best friends, her body as long as mine, heavy with fatigue.  She smells my hair and wraps her arms around me, and even though I am turned towards the wall with knees half out of the bed, I reach around to rest my fingertips against her cheek.  We cling to each other despite the discomfort, and I know then I was meant to be awake for the rest of the night so I could remember this love forever.

 

She was forty-seven. Her hair was rich and beautiful, her hands strong. It seemed that all she had known and read, her children, her friends, things which had at one time been disparate, were quiet at last and had found their place within her. A sense of harvest, of abundance, filled her. She had nothing to do and she waited.

They lay in the holy sun which clothed them, the birds floating over their heads, the sand warm on their ankles, the backs of their legs.  She, too, like Marcel-Maas had arrived. She had arrived at last. A voice of stillness had spoken to her. Like the voice of God, she did not know its source, she only knew she was bidden, which was to taste everything, to see everything with one long, final glance. A calm had come over her, the calm of a great journey ended.

Read to me, she would ask.

In the tall brown grass of the dunes, a pagan couch that overlooked the sea, she sat clasping her knees and listening while Franca read . . .  It was Troyat’s life of Tolstoy, a book like the Bible, so rich in events, in sorrow, in partings, so filled with struggle that strength welled up on every page. The chapters became one’s flesh, one’s own being: the trials washed one clean.  Warm, sheltered from the wind, she listened as Franca’s clear voice described the landscape of Russia, on and on, grew weary at last and stopped. They lay in silence, like lionesses in the dry grass, powerful, sated.

Of them all, it was the true love. Of them all, it was the best. That other, that sumptuous love which made one drunk, which one longed for, envied, believed in, that was not life. It was what life was seeking; it was a suspension of life. But to be close to a child, for whom one spent everything, whose life was protected and nourished by ones own, to have that child beside one, at peace, was the real, the deepest, the only joy. ~ James Salter, Light Years

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summer reading update, long overdue and rambling

Where has she gone?  What’s she been reading?  And . . . um . . . the writing?

You know I have been busy in a book this whole time even though I haven’t been blogging about all of them, so this rambling review will have to come in two installments for all of our sakes.  It seems long and tedious and perhaps unnecessary at this point considering my children are headed back to school, so let’s just throw caution to the wind and get right to it, shall we?  My summer reading update, long overdue and (sorry) rambling:

I can’t rave enough about Edward St. Aubyn’s hilarious Lost for Words, which is a scathing satire poking fun at the politics surrounding the literary prize.  On top of a wickedly funny plot, the audio version is expertly narrated by British actor Alex Jennings (The Queen, Babel, The Wings of the Dove), who brings added humor to the motley cast of characters.  I enjoyed my copy so much the first time on the back and forth from work I listened to it once again while driving from Portland to San Francisco a few weeks ago. [Read more…]

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