“The world is a book,
And those who do not travel,
Read only a page.”
By Saint Augustine
To me, reading a book is traveling. When I read Aegean Dream by Dario Ciriello, I felt as if I had gone to the Island of Skopelos. When something reminds me about the book, I can imagine the places he described as if I were there. I hear the people speaking Greek, I feel the outside and the insides of the buildings during the day and night. I smell and feel the soap his wife made.
I finished Jane Smiley’s Some Luck and I know that Iowa farm plus the neighboring farms. She wrote a series and I bought the second book so I could return to Iowa.
Our reading group chose Run by Ann Patchett for this month’s book. I’m right there– Massachusetts in the snow (even if it’s a hot day where I live in California).
I’ve traveled to many countries and states in the past, but with all the hassle to fly these days, I’d rather be home with a book. It’s my favorite way to travel. What do you think of Saint Augustine’s quote?
The reading group I joined this year, selected Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to read for April. Austen was born on December 16, 1775 and died on July 18, 1817. She was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Romance is not my usual choice of genres, but I’m open to reading it. I didn’t think I’d like Faulkner when Intruder in the Dust was selected and now I’m a fan.
Wikipedia states that Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1813, is a novel of manners. “The main character, Elizabeth Bennet, has to deal with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. She is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertforshire, near London.” The title relates to Elizabeth’s ability to overcome her prejudice and Darcy’s ability to overcome his pride.
Have any of you read Pride and Prejudice? Any comments on it if you have?
“Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.”
“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”
“My main disappointment was always that a book had to end. And then what? But I don’t think I was ever disappointed by the books. I must have been what any author would consider an ideal reader. I felt every pain and pleasure suffered or enjoyed by all the characters.”
“One place understood helps us understand all places better”
“People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”
“I wanted to read immediately. The only fear was that of books coming to an end.”
“My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”
“Art is never the voice of a country, it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction.”
Patricia Flaherty Pagan edited Up, Do, an anthology of thirty-three flash stories by award-winning and emerging writers. The four categories are “Our Hearts”, “Our Bodies”, “Our possible Futures”, and “Our Dreams; Our nightmares.” In the Introduction, Pagan writes:
“I subscribe to the theory that flash fiction is like a geode of a larger narrative. Slicing through the characters and the highest arc of the plot, the flash writer reveals the crystals shining within. Every movement of the blade, every word typed on the page, is crucial.”
Short stories have become popular again with readers. For writers, flash fiction in its required minimal word count is challenging . Pagan captures the essence of the form in her description. When well-written, flash fiction sparkles like gems in the mind.
I opened Up, Do at random and read, “Time Machine” by Melissa Webster. In its brevity, it evoked as strong a response as I had with the three hour movie in theaters now, Interstellar.
Flaherty Pagan earned her MFAW from Goddard College and founded the mission-oriented indie publisher Spider Road Press. Up, Do is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Our fellow writer, Anne Koch, sent me a note card with the following quote by an unknown author:
“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”