Sarah Creech’s first novel, Season of the Dragonflies (William Morrow 2014), is a beautiful book and mesmerizing story. The story is about the Lenore women and their perfumery in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it is, as the synopsis promises, “a beguiling tale of practical magic, old secrets, and new love.” Continue reading
Here, in Charlotte, North Carolina, early winter is grey with rain and clouds and cold. And something about the color of the sky makes me miss Louisiana. I picked up Louisiana Purchase by Elizabeth Burk (Yellow Flag Press 2014), and while I hoped that it would quell my craving for roux-based poetry, I did not know how fully it would suit.
When I was reading J. Bruce Fuller’s Notes to a Husband this summer, I was also moving in with my boyfriend. And while Fuller’s chapbook is about a relationship ending, there is so much wisdom in these short notes from a wife to her husband that rather than finding a guide to ending a relationship, I found reminders of how to be fully in one. And yes, this is a composition of loss, but it’s also a guide to mindfulness.
Have you ever wondered why first impressions have such lasting and sometimes unchanging impacts on how we feel about the people we meet, the places we go or the things that we encounter? And, under pressure, why is it that we feel completely justified in decisions that we make without first having to think about them? Making such a snap judgement is a powerful mechanism and is a large part of why and how our species survived. With such faith in our instincts, are they in fact as trustworthy as we regard them to be? Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, attempts to dissect our ability to “thin slice” an encounter or event, looking for clues in how our brain processes different kinds of information. I prefer to read nonfiction and Gladwell has always been on my radar, though I’ve never approached him for one reason or another. It wasn’t until I proposed to my wife that the book was recommended to me by a close friend, asking that if I read anything to prepare for a life of contentment, commitment and compromise, I at least read the first chapter of Blink.
“But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.”
The waltzing boy in Roethke’s poem could easily be Phillips’ Richard. In ten short stories, Richard narrates the story of his life from his (chosen) mute boyhood in a tumultuous home to the (reluctant) home birth of his first child to the (slow) decline of his parents. Through every major life event, the characters waltz together: literally, when it seems the only option, and figuratively, as they hang on for their lives. Continue reading
I found The Help in a birdhouse. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. We’d been living in Wheaton, Illinois, for about a year, and one day my husband pointed out a large red birdhouse in a family’s front yard. This bird house was big enough to board 30 birds…more like a birdhotel. Upon closer inspection, performed by squinting violently as we zoomed past on our drive to and from church, we discovered that it wasn’t a birdhouse at all, but actually a bookhouse.