As mentioned in my previous post, I didn't "win" NaNoWriMo 2011. Though I wasn't far off.
I blame November, Thanksgiving, and the seduction of The River Reader bookstore in Guerneville, a hundred or so miles north of San Francisco. Don't blame me if it's less, or more, than one hundred - travel and directions are not my thing, y'know?
We spent fours days in the environs of Guerneville, as we have for many years. There are several compulsory stops to be made, made compulsory by well engrained tradition by now.
One of them is the above-mentioned bookstore. A small independent store, they used to have a section of a wall dedicated to magnetic poetry, created by customers. Both of us left artily arranged words there over the years.
The store is eclectic in its stock, with local artists and writers well-represented.
So, why blame the proprietor for my NaNo fail? Ah well, the seduction of the books within. I always buy books there - it's one of the few places I buy "dead tree" books anymore. And I buy them by the armful.
The Natural Law of Water, poems by Kathleen Culver, caught my eye and her words caught my ear, and more than my ear.
I sat with the book, there in the bookstore and let the words sink in. I just like poetry. I like the art that transforms words, line, metre (forgive me, that's how I learned to spell it and how the word looks to me), shape, into feeling, into insight, into something that touches below the level of conscious thought.
And Ms. Culver can do this, and more.
A Radiant Life, by Nuala O'Faolain. Ms. O'Faolain was, among other things, a columnist and essayist for The Irish Times. This book holds between its covers columns of hers that span nearly twenty years.
Robust views, a clear-eyed perspective of Ireland and her society, and sometimes playful writing, the book is an education in the art of the column, the essay. And no small education on the realities of Irish society across the two decades they were written.
The title to the American edition, "A Radiant Life", is taken from the title of one of the essays. It tells of a young Irish-American woman, in whose honor there exists a statue in Japan. Maura O'Halloran became, at the age of 27, a Zen Master. And died but six months later in a motor accident.
Her book of journal entries and letters, "Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind", became another I had to go buy.
Perhaps it's not only the River Reader that has an eclectic collection of books.