Tag Archives: Robert Penn Warren

2012: A Short Look Back At What I Read

Before the look back, a quick look forward. Coming soon (or eventually) in 2013:

  • Reviews of collections by James Arthur, Bruce Beasley, David Biespiel, Stuart Friebert, Laura Jensen, A. E. Stallings, and Wendy Willis
  • Posts about William Matthews’ and Christian Wiman’s poetry
  • The afore-mentioned monthly look at an animal poem (replacing 2012’s Months posts)
  • Some more extensive film reviews on occasion, in addition to the short ones you can always find, frequently updated, on the Film page

Now for the requisite (and for all it’s cliché to do so, enjoyable) quick look back at the reading I did this year. (I stuck the Worst in the middle, because I didn’t want to end on a low note). Continue reading

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Most Vivid Reads #3

The first two posts in this series can be found here  and here.

Gilead  Marilynne Robinson

Gilead is a luscious read, a quiet, powerful, resonating read, the epitome of the sort of book you might find yourself refusing to read the last page of because it will be awful to have it be over. The narrator is an old man, a minister, nearing his own death and writing a letter (the book is the letter) to his young son. “My custom has always been to ponder grief,” he says partway through,

That is, to follow it through ventricle and aorta to find out its lurking places. That old weight in the chest, telling me there is something I must dwell on, because I know more than I know and must learn it from myselfthat same good weight worries me these days.

And you will remember, and slow down to think about, his voice, I daresay, off and on for all of your days. Continue reading

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Two novels

I recently finished two classics, and damn were they worth the designation, both of them — The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1932 Pulitzer Prize) and All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1947 Pulitzer Prize). They’d been sitting on my shelf for years, finally got around to them (the list is so very, very long, and then there are all the movies too…!)

The Good Earth follows the life of an ordinary Chinese man, Wang-Lung, from the day of his wedding to the day of his death, during a time of world war, revolution, and great upheaval that touches him directly barely at all. It’s the land that changes him, and then, human foibles that undo him. The sentences are very simple, and roll along quite easily. A simply-told, profound story.

Before a handful of days had passed it seemed to Wang Lung that he had never been away from his land, as indeed, in his heart he never had. With three pieces of the gold he bought good seed from the south, full grains of wheat and of rice and of corn, and for very recklessness of riches he bought seeds the like of which he had never planted before, celery and lotus for his pond and great red radishes that are stewed with pork for a feast dish and small red fragrant beans.

The book jacket on my copy says this book is of interest for anyone who wants to know about Chinese culture, but I say Continue reading

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