Literary Musing (No. 2)

I’m only into my second “Literary Musing,” and it occurs to me a more appropriate series name might have been, “Authors Who Intimidate the Heck out of Me,” but we are on this path and will stick to it.

Ordinary Grace was a  Christmas present from my oldest daughter quite a few years back. A present for which I am very thankful, because I wonder if I would have discovered this work on my own (not knowing the author at the time). Ordinary Grace is now firmly in my top 10 most-recommended-books. The official promo copy tells the premise better than I can … 

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

The novel contains a cast of well-developed and complex characters who learn, grow wiser and eventually accept what they cannot change. There is a murder mystery that forms a secondary layer beneath this coming of age story. I’ve read some individual reviewers who state that it wasn’t a good mystery because they figured out “who-dun-it” before the end of the book. It is then that I want to yell, “Good for you sweetheart, but you missed the whole point.”

Points to the author for including this quote from Blaise Pascal on the dedication page. 
“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” 

Read well …Poppy

Literary Musing (No. 1)

LarryMcMurtry_LonesomeDove

We have moved twice in one year. It seems more like 3 or 4 moves as we are still searching for lost and misplaced items. Somewhere in the house (I hope) is a beat-up hardcover copy of Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. The dust jacket is long gone, the spine is wobbly at best. Sure I could buy another copy or download the Kindle version, but that well-read book is precious to me not just for the content and story (which are superb … more on that later), but for the hand written notes from friends to whom I have loaned the book. The front and back endsheets contain notes, reflections, quotes from the book, all signed by friends. This is especially poignant because if you would ask me what Lonesome Dove was about, I would not say, “A cattle-drive from Texas to Montana,” or “Two retired Texas rangers,” or any of a number of themes that emerge from the book. My answer to what Lonesome Dove is about would be, “Friendship,” the relationship, the philia love between Augustus McCrae and Woodrow McCall.

Larry McMurtry passed away on March 25, 2021 in Archer City, Texas … the same town he was born in on June 3, 1936. As an aspiring writer, he is one of those those authors who intimidates me. His characters are well rounded and complex, the dialogue is genuine and humorous. The environments are real, you can feel the heat, the dust, and the currents of the rivers. To say that Lonesome Dove is a western is like saying the Mona Lisa is a portrait.

If you haven’t read Lonesome Dove, put it on your list. If you’ve read it and would like to digitally sign my wayward copy; drop me a comment. When I find it, I’ll transcribe your comments to join all the others.

Read well …Poppy

Of Head, Heart, Steinbeck and Zombie Mistakes

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up your men to collect wood and give orders and distribute the work. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince.

Sure, there was the Apple stock that I bought at $30 and sold at $36, congratulating myself for being so very smart and clever to make a 20% gain, but in general, I don’t have many regrets. I’m not much for digging up past mistakes, there are so many it would be a full-time job. It’s better to keep them buried. Besides, I’ll make some fresh ones tomorrow, I don’t need zombie mistakes following me around too.

The quote at the beginning of this blog illustrates that there is more than one way to get a task done. One way is through logic, through process, through delegation. In other words,  by using your head. The other way is driven by yearning, by passion. In other words, by using your heart.

A few regrets that I do have are those of the heart and represented in this blog; cooking and writing. I started cooking about nine years ago. I still love it. Do I wish I had started sooner? Yes, of course. But the regret here is pretty minor. I love coming home and turning on some music, pouring myself a glass of wine and start slicing, dicing, sautéing, simmering, roasting, broiling, whatever it takes to create a meal for my family. I enjoy it so much I want to stretch it out. This does not always go over so well with my family when their stomachs begin to rumble.

I started this blog thinking I would be focusing on cooking. But a successful cooking blog relies on exact measurements and precise steps not to mention some good photography. By the time I’m done, no one in the family wants to wait around while I stage a great photo, they want to eat! Then there is that exact measurement and precise step thing. My cooking technique more closely resembles a Jackson Pollack painting than a Rembrandt.  I sling ingredients around like Jackson Pollack did paint. By the time I’m done, I can barely remember what ingredients I used, let alone how much.

And then there is writing.

I grew up without a television, possibly the best thing to ever happen to me as it turned me into a reader. Our family Saturday routine went something like this. Shortly after it opened, I was dropped off at the local branch of the St. Louis County library system. This was the early sixties when it was safe to leave your child unsupervised for hours at a time in the library. I searched for undiscovered titles and repeats from my favorite authors. By the time my parents returned to pick me up, I had 5-7 books checked out and ready to go. When next Saturday rolled around, those books were finished and I was looking for more. I read adventure stories, science fiction stories, Dr. Doolittle, Danny Dunn and anything by Elizabeth Enright. I always read several grade levels above my actual grade, not because I was smart, simply because I just read and read.

Then one day I picked up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Continue reading “Of Head, Heart, Steinbeck and Zombie Mistakes”