Saturday, May 19, 2007


Mmm... it is so nice to be able to read again! It makes me want to pursue a degree in English Literature so that I might read just as much during the school year. But then, "forced" reading is never as much fun. :-) Alas.

I've been working my way through a variety of different books in different subject areas:
the Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz and of Zbigniew Herbert, This Tremendous Lover by Boylan, The Path to Rome by Belloc, Getting Things Done by David Allen, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie (about time for a reread), The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, The Children of Hurin by Tolkien, and smatterings of Ovid's Erotic Poetry.

That the two books of poetry are intense and phenomenal goes without saying. Milosz and Herbert were both Polish poets who grew up under the shadow of the Nazis and the Soviets, such gardens breed tough literature. As Chesterton says, "There are twenty minor poets who can describe fairly impressively an eternity of agony; there are very few even of the eternal poets who can describe ten minutes of satisfaction." Both Milosz and Herbert are of the latter ilk. It is as if the petty, the mundane, the hackneyed has been stripped away and only the best of humanity, or its lack remains. There is an abiding sense of loss and tragedy throughout as well, which bespeaks greatness; there are few great authors who have happy stories.

This Tremendous Lover is my father's favorite book of all time. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit that this is the first time that I have read it, but maybe that is for the best. It is a dense book that I might have skimmed over without much comprehension even very recently. It tells the story of Catholicism from the point of view of a... well... Hobbit, if you get my meaning.

The Path to Rome is a journey I have been meaning to take for a long while. Belloc is one of my perennial favorites and this is considered by many to be his master work. It tells the story, albeit with many brief side ramblings, of his foot journey from France to Rome. His gift for visual description is remarkable: "In St. Pierre it was just that passing of daylight when a man thinks he can still read; when the buildings and the bridges are great masses of purple that deceive one, recalling the details of daylight, but when the night birds, surer than men and less troubled by this illusion of memory, have discovered that their darkness has conquered." What a fellow!

More on the others later... Here's to Yerba Mate, Brie, Clouds, Literature, and a beautiful wife with which to share them all!

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