View from the Top

I climbed my first tree before I was five. Got stuck. Screamed. Daddy had to walk two miles home from work in the middle of a hot West Virginia afternoon and rescue me. Like a cat, I finally learned not to climb down head-first. For the next XX years (I'd say how many, but no one would believe it) I spent time in the tops of trees, where I learned some of life's most important skills -- and pleasures. I'd say what they were (and are) but that would be telling. And you know what they say -- writers should show, not tell. So kick off your shoes and shimmy on up. Join me here surrounded by blue sky and little green leaves. Bring a book if you like, or a notebook. The apples up here are crisp and ripe and free for the picking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am a fool for story, and so when I was given a small paperback of Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, I have been reading them slowly, spacing them out as if they were nuggets of Godiva chocolate. 
Last night there was “Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland,” this morning with breakfast “The Sojourner,” a poignant little piece in which John Ferris, businessman and world traveler, stops to visit his former wife Elizabeth and her family and is struck by the obvious joy and rightness of their lives.  Though the story is flawless -- not a phrase or image too much or too little, no unfortunate slide into sentimentality -- and though at the end I was consumed with longing and melancholy, these are not why I am writing of it here. 
No.  What I felt at the end of this short piece was an overwhelming urge to caress the book itself with its flimsy cover, its pulp pages.  If it hadn’t been so melodramatic, I would have clutched it to my breast and moaned.  Now, I can’t imagine doing that with a Kindle.


  1. I agree. I recently asked a friend about a book he had read, and he told me the title and added, 'It's available on Kindle!'

    I had no desire to read on a device until I saw a publication available on Kindle only—and I really, really wanted to read it. It helped that it was a free download and Kindle is also available as a free iPhone app, and so while waiting to see my physical therapist today I got to read it in the waiting room. But without the heft and physical presence of paper (always cheaper, lighter and requiring no batteries), I was startled to 'turn' the last 'page' and discover that it was over. That was one jarring effect I had not anticipated.

    As for the initial recommendation, I definitely will be reading it on paper.


  2. I agree that the book-reading experience includes the book. Even if it's just a cheap paperback. I like to read a poem on line or a blog post or even a newspaper, but when I read a book of poetry, I like a BOOK of poetry