To the White Sea

images.jpgLet’s go back to the early 1970’s. I came home from work with a fresh, crisp paperbound copy of Deliverance by James Dickey.

I had stumbled upon Dickey in the public library and had read his first three volumes of poetry. Then he showed up for a reading at the university and I got more of a sense of what he was like: something that helped me understand his poems a little better (later I would drive across western Virginia and see the oceans of kudzu which also helped understand certain poems).

In graduate school Dickey visited one of my classes, reading his poems and answering student questions which he had probably responded to over and over through the years. I sat in the far back corner of the room nursing an intense desire to relieve myself in the men’s room but the dilemma was how to make it to the door, walk in front of Dickey or behind him. I walked behind him with a meek “excuse me” and was humiliated when one of my favorite contemporary poets humorously accused me of disliking his poems so much that I had to leave the room.

Continue reading

The Occupation Trilogy

images.jpgWhen the Nobel committee announced that the literary prize was being awarded to Patrick Modiano I discovered that many of my well-read friends had never heard of the author. I myself had only read one of Modiano’s novels, and that one in French. Now I have read a half-dozen titles and am beginning to understand the author.

In a review of The Occupation Trilogy, the New York Times wrote:

Continue reading

An Observation from Kurt Vonnegut

From the postumous collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s miscellaneous writing, Armageddon In Retrospect:

Vonnegut Over one hundred thousand non-combatants and a magnificent city destroyed by bombs dropped wide of the stated objectives: the railroads were knocked out for roughly two days. The Germans counted it the greatest loss of life suffered in any single raid. The death of Dresden was a bitter tragedy, needlessly and willfully executed. The killing of children—”Jerry” children or “Jap” children, or whatever enemies the future may hold for us—can never be justified.

Continue reading