Mayhaps it's the hot steamy weather but every summer I fill my imaginary book bag with heady, learned treatise to get me through the summer. Autodidact is me, by golly.
Then reality sets in. With the equinox my mind turns to mush and I return like the swallows to the same place on the book shelves, those reserved for summer reading only. Mostly the short stories of southern writers, Faulkner, Twain, Capote, Welty. I tell myself, that this is the year I'll get through something by Conroy, but other than an old Esquire article or two, I just can't do it. Maugham gets thrown in the mix too. Can you imagine reading Maugham in the cold? It's beyond my comprehension.
I'm inexplicably drawn to a time, just before my time, in other hot, steamy settings. To my mind's eye no one does hot better than Southern American writers.
A week before Labor Day,I close out the season, with Hemingway's, "Islands in the Stream". I prefer this to all other Hemingway. For me it's the ultimate back to school story, speaking personally to me as a father. It gets me every time.
I am embarrassed to not know there the following quote came from. It's a comment to a blog post. Who's I no longer have a clue, and I never knew whose comment it was. My apologies to both, and will happily give hearty praise if either or both can be identified.
The quote obviously has to do with how to read Kipling. It's exquisite. I'd kill to have the skill to write this paragraph. Although unsaid, I feel it also applies to every pre-electronic author. During the dog days, consider the author, laboring in self imposed exile in Oxford, Key West or Connecticut.
"Read him slowly, dear girl, you must read Kipling slowly, watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page a lot, I believe, stared through his window and listened to birds, as most writers who are alone do. Some do not know the names of birds, though he did. Your eye is too quick and North American. Think about the speed of his pen. What an appalling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise."
2 hours ago