Duff ’n Stuff, Oct. 23, 2012
I’m supposed to be “tweeting,” bless my little heart.
It’s not enough that I have to keep up with email, post to several Facebook pages, maintain a couple of websites and write stories. I have to make bird sounds, too? Shoot me now.
I know Twitter has its uses, especially for a media person such as myself and all this is my job, but I’d rather open the book of poetry by Sharon Olds I brought home from the library. It is “The Wellspring” and here is one of its treasures:
In the long, indolent mornings of fifth-grade
spring vacation, our son sits with the
tag-ends of his breakfast, and blows bubbles in his milk
with a blue straw, and I sit and watch him.
The foam rises furiously
In a dome over the rim of his cup,
We gaze into the edifice of fluid,
its multiple chambers. He puffs and they pile up,
they burst, they subside, he breathes out slowly, and the
multicellular clouds rise,
he inserts the straw into a single globe
and blows a little, and it swells. Ten years ago
he lay along my arm, drinking.
Now, in late March, he shows me
the white light
pop and dissolve as he
conjures and breaks each small room of milk.
Sweeter than any tweeter, that.
I’m currently having fun reading the “The Edge of Nowhere” by Elizabeth George. I’m a bit of a slow reader, but I promise to report back on this first young adult crime novel set on Whidbey Island by our own prolific, resident, crack crime novelist.
Waiting in line in the stack by my nightstand is Richard Ford’s newest novel “Canada.” Ford was introduced to me by writer Molly Larson Cook. Here’s a writer who knows what makes a good writer. (Check out Cook’s recent “websketch” in her writers’ blog “The Flowered Cow.”) Molly was the one who introduced me to Ford and told me to look at his novel, “Independence Day,” and the perfect calibration of that novel’s opening paragraph. Look:
In Haddam, summer floats over tree-softened streets like a sweet lotion balm, from a careless, languorous god, and the world falls in tune with its own mysterious anthems. Shaded lawns lie still and damp in the early a.m. Outside, on peaceful-morning Cleveland Street, I hear the footfalls of a lone jogger, tramping past and down the hill toward Taft Lane and across the Choir College, there to run in the damp grass. In the Negro trace, men sit on stoops, pants legs rolled above their sock tops, sipping coffee in the growing, easeful heat. The marriage enrichment class (4 to 6) has let out at the high school, its members sleepy-eyed and dazed, bound for bed again. While on the green gridiron pallet our varsity band begins its two-a-day drills, revving up for the 4th: “Boom-Haddam, boom-Haddam, boom-boom-ba-boom. Haddam-Haddam, up’n-at-’em! Boom-boom-ba-boom!”
“Independence Day” was the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and, as far as I can tell, there are not many writers who can do what Ford does with his seeming simplicity of language that is, in the end, magnificently orchestrated. I lap up his novels like so much literary cream.
I peeked at the first line of “Canada.”
First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed.
OK, with an opening line like that one, how can one resist? Especially with 400 pages of Ford’s writing to follow.
I bet Richard Ford could make some sweet tweets.
From the heart,
Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several first, second and third place awards in the categories of Best Arts Story and Best Education Story in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.
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