ReadRightNow: July 8, 2013

Strawberries for jam-making.
Strawberries for jam-making.

In compiling the best things I read this week, I found a pattern – it’s a pattern that I can see, at least, though it may be like interpreting art, where one person sees a monkey holding a coconut, and another person sees Adam and Eve, and another person sees an abstraction of kindness.

As for me, I see seasonality. A sense of the temporary. A state of being that is here now and will one day go away, perhaps to return, perhaps not.

I’ve become concerned with seasonality in my writing lately, as well as in my kitchen. I’ve been canning jams and jellies, buying tons of fruit when it’s ripe and soft, and bringing it to a steamy bubble on my stovetop. I’m in a race against time, against the seasons, which will surely change and will take with them my peaches, my figs, my sugar peas.

I won’t always be able to find a theme in my ReadRightNow selections, but this week, a theme emerges for me:  the seasons. The temporary. The celebration of right now. An ever-present progression of going and coming.

ReadRightNow July 8, 2013

  • If you don’t subscribe to Letters of Note, I highly recommend checking it out and subscribing. Edited and compiled by Shaun Usher, Letters of Note compiles letters, telegrams, postcards, and general correspondence of note. This week, one of the letters was from essayist and clergyman Sydney Smith, sent in response to a letter from Lady Georgiana, who confessed to having a difficult bout of depression. Smith’s response is (mostly) practical, gentle, compassionate, and thoughtful, advising her to confide in her friends (stating that her troubles “are always worse for dignified concealment”) and to be gentle on herself. Good advice for us all:  be gentle, and to cite his #1 piece of advice, “Live as well as you dare.”
  • Most people who know me know that I’m almost entirely strictly non-talk radio:  I had to listen to too much of it as a child since my dad was a radio talk show host, and no matter whose car I ended up in, I had to listen to middle aged men (and Dr. Laura) spewing opinions – vitriolic, mundane, or madcap – over the air waves. I can’t abide it now; I’m not ashamed of who I am. But NPR does, of course, have wonderful programming, much of which I don’t listen to but rather read online, like The Splendid Table. They ran an article this week on “How to be interesting at a dinner party,” a study of the give-take relationship of everyone present. I love giving dinner parties, I love attending dinner parties, but I also get shy and anxious, so I was glad that the first step was just showing up; that in and of itself is an achievement. Before one knows it, they’ve had a drink, munched a bit, helped chop or stir something, and the dinner party is in full swing, leaving those shy, nervous feelings to wait outside on the lawn.
  • Y’all:  Alice Munro has announced she is retiring from writing. Alice Munro is a big, big deal in the writing world, one of the greats. The article here, however, also points out an interesting trend:  writing has, for some, become a vocation from which you can retire. I’ve always thought I’ll write until I go blind, crazy, or both, so Alice Munro retiring is a bit of a game-changer, one I will be watching. (I believe the writing world is hoping this will be like Cher’s Farewell Tour.)
  • I love Alimentum, which is a journal dedicated to writing about food. This poem about spring peas perfectly captures that seasonality I spoke of before, that magical picture of spring’s bounty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s