Sunday, May 14, 2006

What Matt is Reading

Well, if Reid can do it...

First thing: I read one book at a time. This amounts to a fair stack by the end of a season, but it's a serial adventure. The simultaneous readers---Steve, Reid, everyone else in my family---surround and amaze me. Yet I remain, tragically, monobiblic.

So a "list" of books I am reading is something of a misnomer. But here's what I finished today and what I've started.

Just finished: Helen Macdonald's Falcon. Let this be your final warning if you haven't yet bought it. Steve and Hiedi have already read it, and like me, loved it. It will be hard to drum up more superlatives for a review in the August Hawk Chalk, but I'll give it my best shot... In short, this book is unique---not in topic; in fact, the first book ever was a falcon book---but in perspective, arrangement, scholarship, wit, class and sheer cool. I have read a lot of books on hawks and hawking. Nothing like this.

Just started: Wendell Berry's Standing by Words. A collection of essays and a critique, I gather, mostly of poets and poetry. A few pages in and Berry is, predictably, quotable. Here's one for Helen:

[In the opening essay, Berry coins the concept "poet watchers" to describe at least a subset the art's modern audience---people convinced the poet is more worthy of study than her work and always "hoping the poets will reveal themselves as the strange creatures they really are."]

"...poet watchers have a limitation in common with bird watchers. Some essential things will not be revealed to them, because their interest is too direct, too imbued with excitement of a special occasion. They are too much agog. If to an attentiveness appropriately critical and calm the words of a poet reveal something extraordinary, then an extraordinary response is certainly in order. But it is better to be agape afterwards than agog beforehand."

No comments: