And, Finally, Fall Arrives

If I had my choice of my ideal place to write, it’s not my office or a coffee shop or the dining room table (all of which are fine second choices). I want to be outside. In open air. Looking at blue sky and trees and feeling the breeze blow through porch, ideally with a hint of someone barbecuing. But you can’t really sit outside and work comfortably in Alabama in the summer. I’m not sure even the computer could sit outside without keeling over.

Ah, but now fall is (sort of) here. I’m typing from my backporch, sipping my coffee, and all is right with the world. I’m looking straight at a weeping willow that never fails to make me happy. The dog is trying to get me to throw his rope, but I’m steadfastly resisting. And any minute now, surely whoever’s hammering loudly next door will stop.

Not much to write about on this Labor Day weekend. We’ve read a lot and watched a lot of football. To balance that out, I’ve had a few good runs, too–another thing that’s easier in fall than summer. I’ve now finished the Hunger Games series, which I highly recommend to anyone–is there anyone?–who hasn’t already been swept up in the Suzanne Collins craze. 

I have to admit, the final book, Mockingjay, was a little brutal for me. Not because of explicit violence, but because of all the pain and loss and death. People I really LIKED got killed. My guess is that adults are more sensitive to that than kids are, more sensitive to being moved by loss in a book. At least I think  I’m more moved by abstract loss than I was as a kid or teenager. The thought of war is more disturbing to me. (And this is a strongly anti-war book–it doesn’t hedge on the suffering and the fear and the constant death. I love that about it–finally, something teenage boys will consume that contradicts all those video games that show war as being fun and exciting and well-stocked with extra lives.) Minor characters get to me. A tiny scene where an 80-year-old woman volunteers to take a younger woman’s place to be executed made me tear up. (That’s in the second book, my favorite of the three.) I’m still thinking about that old woman. I think the capacity for empathy increases as you get older–maybe both fictional empathy and real-life empathy. That would explain why junior high and high school can be such hell. But, at any rate, I’ll be curious if kids are moved by the final book or just pumped up about all the action.

Another off-the-charts recommendation. Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House.  I liked My Antonia, but The Professor’s House blew me away. It might be one of my Top 20 favorite books of all time. (Not that I know what the other 19 are.) It’s beautifully written–“beautiful” doesn’t come close to describing Cather’s prose–and it’s both an fascinating character study and meditation on life and aging. Plus it’s got a kick-ass section on New Mexico archaeology.

Now I’m in the middle of Michael Knight’s The Typist, which is a short, lovely snapshot of  life during MacArthur’s occupation of Japan. 

I’ve decided, by the way, that if I read something I don’t like, I’m going to keep my mouth shut blog-wise. But I love talking about amazing books and what makes them amazing.

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