Friday, March 25, 2005

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-washed babe. . . . and am not contained between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good,
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself;
They do not know how immortal, but I know.

--Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

A citywide festival to celebrate the life and work of Walt Whitman begins tomorrow, the anniversary of the poet's death in 1892, in Washington, DC, the city where Whitman spent ten years of his life. The festival will run through his birthdate of May 31 and will include a marathon reading of Leaves of Grass on April 16 at George Washington University. (Washington Post)

Not everyone is happy about how memoir-happy the publishing industry has become. Off the top of my head I'd say my favorite memoirs would have to include Robert Sapolsky's A Primate's Memoir and Robin Hemley's Nola. Michael Holroyd, Margaret Drabble's husband, wrote about his eccentric family in Basil Street Blues, another one of my favorites, and he's been honored with the David Cohen award for literature based on "his 41 years of distinction as the father of the contemporary school of intimate, emotionally and sexually candid biography." (The Guardian)

I am reading As I Lay Dying in my spare moments today. I love this neighborly observation of Anse Bundren:

"I notice how it takes a lazy man, a man that hates moving, to get set on moving once he does get started off, the same as he was set on staying still, like it aint the moving he hates so much as the starting and the stopping. And like he would be kind of proud of whatever come up to make the moving or the setting still look hard. He set there on the wagon, hunched up, blinking, listening to us tell about how quick the bridge went and how high the water was, and I be durn if he didn't act like he was proud of it, like he had made the river rise himself."

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