vendredi, août 25, 2006

Last night, as I was driving up to my house, a fat black and white animal waddled off the driveway and headed into the woods. Happily, it didn't seem to be scared enough to leave its very odofirous scent behind it. I'm still not sure how many skunks live in the woods, but I strongly suspect a family has set up its own home behind my neighbors. Closing the car door and heading towards my breezeway, I watched two (or more) deer that had been catching a few winks under my other neighbor's apple tree rise and walk at a leisurely pace into the evening and fade to black. Deer and skunks I don't mind. But as good as they are for eating pests, I must confess that I'm not crazy about the bats. They swoop low over our heads and poop on the breezeway. I worry about the possibility of bites and other unforeseen events. Tonight I spent the evening with volunteers for our local conservation group, the Wallace Trust. They are trying to restrict development, preserve open space, and persuade residents considering selling their property or buying new land to get conservation easements on the open land that makes this such a wonderful township in which to raise children. Stay cool, I want to say to the deer sleeping on our lawn-don't fret, I want to yell at the skunk as he or she walks on to my neighbor's property. But I keep my mouth shut-they certainly need no encouragement to continue eating my neighbor's apples or stinking up our bedrooms when they feel like it. At ease in their God-given roles, they walk our sets with sublime insouciance, staring at us with their curious eyes, pausing for a snack or a moment of slumber, then moving someone else's lawn.

mercredi, août 23, 2006

Lost love and found

If you looked at my profile, you will notice that I list A.S. Byatt's novel "Possession" as one of my favorite books. Thanks in part to the fact that I currently have no religion book to review (yes!!)I've been re-reading the Pulitzer- prize winning novel, sometimes with wonder, sometimes with tears. Yes, this long and sometimes complex novel is a romance focused on 20th century academicians chasing a 19th century mystery, and the textured and lively characters who created the mystery. But it is also about the nature of loss, the ways in which literature can be read and misread, the lenses through which we construe, and misconstrue reality, and the power of belief, religious, scientific and poetic. With all of its pathos, "Possession" is also a very funny book about the academic life and some of the women and men who people it. And, at the end, it is both a tragic and a very hopeful meditation on the possibility of happiness and of lasting love, and of the impossibility of "possessing" a person, or a reputation, or an academic theory. If you like books with neat resolutions, or don't have time to delve deeply into a novel at this point, skip this tome. If you prefer layers, and questions, and depth, and if you are willing to walk through the complexities of Victorian diction and put up with a lot of pompous academicians in pursuit of literary all means, get thee to a bookstore...and prepare to be swept away.