David Stevens

Archive for November, 2014|Monthly archive page

Last Judgment

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Souls just out of their graves having to answer for lives most of them never understood in the first place. Such hard lives.

Lila, by Marilynne Robinson

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Graham Joyce

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Graham Joyce is one of my writers. Like you, I have a bunch of them. I come across them somehow, often at a book sale, buy something cheap, then after enjoying it, work my way through their back catalogue, and still enjoying them, buy each new book as it comes out. Too rarely I reflect on how lucky I am to have found them, and as the years pass I wonder what writer I may be missing out on as I scan shop shelves.

I read his latest about four or five months ago (and included a quote from it in an earlier post). Just a few weeks later, I was posting on the horror of MH17 being shot down over the Ukraine. Today, I read Joyce’s far superior post touching on the same topic.  Sadly, the reason I read it, is because two months late, I accidentally heard news of his death.

Strangers die all the time. Who am I to speak of a man who I never met, or to pretend knowledge by appropriating details from wikipedia? I can only gently suggest you seek out his books. The magic of writing means that I enjoyed a number of hours within his head, touching his thoughts with my eyes, drawing them into myself. There are many worse ways that I could have spent those hours, and worse ways you could spend yours. If you like to read and like to think and have conjured up for you strange intrusions into this world, it would be a kindness for you to read his work.

Cutesy

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Have I mentioned that I cannot stand a cute rejection? It doesn’t make me feel better, and it makes me think I wasn’t taken seriously. I dislike them even more than normal rejection. At least I am used to normal rejection. Cute rejection is worse than chirpy morning people. I think I like rejections that aren’t really rejections, they’re acceptances. That’s the kind of rejection I like! Now I’m getting cute. And I don’t like it. (Do they have hand puppet rejection – now, that would incite violence.)

Lila

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2014 at 10:57 am

Far from home, I thought of a friend with whom I used to discuss books and religion, amongst other things. We are not in touch much, and it occurred to me I may only see him once or twice more in this life, if at all. I wrote to him about my family, and added:

Have you read Marilynne Robinson? I suspect I have raved to you about her before. I am currently reading ‘Lila’, which follows on from ‘Gilead’ and ‘Home’. The prose is beautiful, with wonderful turns of phrase and thoughtful utterances. A gorgeous, lovely book about gentleness, even though it is about lives that are often harsh and sometimes ugly. I was so happy to hear that it had been published. Reading it makes me feel more empathetic than I really am, the author tricks me into thinking myself insightful and imaginative about other lives, and reading it makes me want to be a better person.

I don’t feel I’m much at reviewing books. I don’t like to give any details of plot away. I don’t have the nuance to articulate the degrees of my enjoyment, nor to sort out the strands of what went together to achieve the total. So this not a review, just a response. Each time I come back to reading ‘Lila’, my heart swells as I open the book. I sink into a warm pool, water that I can breathe, water that refracts light so that I see each thing anew. Feelings that I have had, some that have scared me, some that have haunted me, rise up and float so that I can see them calmly and think, yes, that is how it is. She says the words just right, but in ways that I would never have imagined would be right, until I have read them. Over and over, the loneliness. But knowing that I am not alone in that. Calmness, even in a sleeting, tearing storm. The book will end soon. Everything will end soon, for everyone. But to sit for a moment, and ponder that everything is, maybe, a prayer.

Robinson has won the Pulitzer prize, she needs no praise nor spruiking from me, so that frees me to say my few silly words. Lila is a thing of beauty for me, as were Gilead and Home. Perhaps they might be for you, as well.