Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Reading - a life-long passion

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 second book was 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.


  1. What's this? You're telling me and the world that A LIFELONG PASSION gets somehow diminished by the mere dangling wordcount of NaNoWriMoJo? Sheeeeesh, a tender talented seasoned pro who knows a mighty metre when he iambics his pentameter into it, is far, far higher than the rigidity of the push to hit the goal.

    The GOAL? Lord, man -- you hit that when the wonder in your eyes at pages and the flow and the connotative value of words well splayed made your mind all the finer. You take that -- I see it a hundred-times and more to fellow authors, to fortunate readers, to how you encourage, to how reverently you turn a poet's page and glean their joie de vivre ... when you smile up in your eye'places at this run'on sentence to slam you at how damn GREAT you are in this noble profession of authoring and engrained tendencies to hit the same bookstore for the same glorious armful of books to spark a weekend, a lifetime, an existence.

    Proud am I to be friend, fan and co-author of one of your books landing us in the Carlyle one day to *clink* to all that matters in this world.

    ... Like your apprectiation for the wonders of the written word.

    ~ Absolutely*Kate

  2. My dear *Kate. The lifelong passion is undiminished, of that I can assure you. No more than the passion you pour out is in any way diminished.

    As to anything you've written there above - I'll go with the reverence with which I turn a poet's page. For so it should be done. And I take great delight, nay joy, in the art you employ to run a sentence on.

    And know too, that I am a fan - how could I not?

  3. You're aces in a stacked deck with cards tucked up the sleeve Mr Mackey. Fortunate the life that runs in to how swell you respect goodness when you come across it on your long and winding reveries.

    ~ Fortunate,
    ~ Kate ... smilin' at your smilin' (and mine)

    {*Enthuse* has a shiny mind of its own, doesn't it my dear friend?}

  4. It sounds like a beautiful place to browse - and hang-out - in.
    I can't think of anything eloquent to say when commenting after *Kate. :D Her sentences flow too easily.

  5. @Laura - it is a wonderful place to browse, always very enjoyable. As to following on after *Kate, I understand the problem all too well.

    A question: regarding the links within my blog entries, are they a touch too subtle or is it apparent that a reader can click on the name of any of the three books mentioned and get directed to Amazon? Just wondering if I should tweak the template a little.

  6. They are a bit subtle. I had that same shade and changed it to a little more purple. I also went to a 16pt Trebuchet for the body, which boldened up everything, including the links.

  7. Thanks, Laura. I've made some adjustments - they seem to cause the links to tand out more. And, I'm very fond of Trebuchet - I've no idea why I didn't switch to that before.

  8. Oh yeah, much easier to read now overall and see the links. :D

  9. Great tweakings and you two star*sensations crack me up. I'm just honouredly happy to hang wit' the likes of those who give forth such good wordings and respect for the story and the prose and all the places it goes.

    Happiest*Holidaying to both you mighty swell colleague/pals,

    ~ Absolutely*Kate, doin' my part to keep spirits bright (tell Santa! tell Santa!)

  10. Back at ya, *Kate. *slinks away after another epic fail of following *Kate's lovely prose*

  11. That book store sounds lovely! I'm not even going to try to say any more, Kate has a way with words that I cannot hope to compete with.
    PS I think that anyone who participated in Nano was a winner, for writing any amount of words has to be a bonus.


  12. Thanks, Helen. It is a wonderful bookstore.

    I am certain that *Kate does not regard commenting and writing as a competition - even if she does beat all of us into a cocked hat!

  13. I absolutely sure Kate doesn't, what I meant and phrased so badly was that she said it so well.

    She's an amazing wordsmith! ^_^ my apologies to you and Kate if I gave the wrong impression of what I meant.

  14. Hello all at Mr Mackey's lovely wordsmith hangout -- this is Absolutely*Kate here smiling so that it hurts, it hurts between my sips of a very fine Cote du Rhone.

    I admire you all with any tipped hat, Laura, Helen, indeed KjM for the innate style you all trip forward when you travel with the words that catch my eye and oh so many fortunate readers. Oh yeah, I love ya too - You SOOOO made me chuckle at your forth and backings. Wish we could all have run into each other around an indie aisle of the Mackey tucked away bookstore in Guerneville. Know you each have a *welcome* (and a glass of vino et veritas) waiting upon your next trip NewEngland'way.

    ~ Your pal Kate

  15. @Helen - no, no, I meant...and, thus, is shown how clumsy KjM can get with words. I know what you meant - and articulated it poorly.

    @*Kate - yes, all of us hanging out at The River Reader would be a fun thing. New England would do fine too.

  16. I'm not quite sure what a cocked hat is - is that an Irish hat with a bend in it ;)? - but I'm very sure that I'll be the one standing in the corner of the bookstore with my mouth shut, letting *Kate do the eloquent sprinkling of the airways with her sparkles of cheer and impressive banter. :D

  17. NO WAY lovely LAURA!!! I intend to be carousing and perusing the way books and pages and words and phrases just delight me! You ever seen a kid let loose in a candy store? All you're gonna catch glints of shall be my eyes, so big, so bright and so, so happy if you guys are all hangin' there. Since our Mr Mackey's a classy gent, I imagine I could be sippin' somethin' from stemware that gives vino its veritas. But I'd sure like to LISTEN to you all wax eloquent of the craft we hold so high, with both reverence and joy.

    Oh, I'll be the one wearing a tilted fedora. I was kinda unsure on that cocked hat as well. HAPPY*CHRISTMASzing to you all and some great nights along the way. ~ Absolutely*Kate

  18. On the topic of hats, cocked, fedora, et al... see this link

    I am entertained that the expression shows up on a blog known as "obsoleteword" - it confirms what others have said of me in the past :-}

  19. "to be knocked into a cocked hat
    This means to be routed completely in a physical or verbal contest."

    Lovin' not only the obsolete wit which thou shalt ne'er be, but the meaning of the phrase, which my esteemed pals, the Laura and the Helen, must be grinnnin' at now too. (Personally, the Ohio gal deep in me likes that a transplanted Irishman had to traverse all the way to Cleveland to trounce his point!) ~ Kate, absolutely

  20. Thanks for the link. :D
    I, for one, am truly glad the Irishman made his home in the city by the bay, to share his words and humor with us. You will never be obsolete, my good man. You are timeless.

  21. Perhaps I'm due some embarrassment, but I hadn't heard of either book. Both sound really neat!

  22. John - I hadn't heard of either until I got there. But they are both very neat indeed.