One project I dealt with over that warm weekend was to gather the entries—poetry and fiction—from our local library where for a month and a half people submitted their works for the Auburn Arts Commission’s Snowbound Writers’ Contest. I have done this annual task for more than twenty years. I don’t judge the entries but sort and mail them to the judges. It’s exciting to know that the written word still is appealing and necessary to those of us who value literature. With all the electronic gadgets today, we have a tendency to read summaries and reviews of books rather than the books themselves. Recently I took time off from my writing to read some books.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami was translated from Japanese into English by Philip Gabriel. I’ll be quick to say, it’s not a book for everyone, and it’s not an easy read. It is engaging, however, and the story line is a debate about life, death, and existence. It’s a conflict that seems to take place in the main character’s mind, something like a strange dream. The plot that drives the story is Tazaki’s search for the reason his four friends suddenly drop him from their circle of friends. It is Tazaki’s journey.
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin, tells of how Christians are being persecuted in many parts of the world, sufferings we in America can hardly conceive. It makes us realize how valuable our Constitution is because it guarantees every citizen the freedom to worship, whatever his or her faith.
A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is set in Sierra Leone. It is the story of how the author went from being a happy twelve -year -old boy in Matru Jong to becoming a violent army soldier by the age of sixteen during the country’s civil war. His daily life of survival and his involvement in brutal killings is graphic enough to make a reader sick, yet the book is beautifully written. The horrifiying fact is that there still are places where child soldiers are made to participate in annihilating and setting villages on fire and witnessing horrific and shameful acts of violence. There can be rehabilitation; however, and the story of how Beah found freedom and sanity is mesmerizing.
During a long hard winter, we need warm thick gloves but a sudden warm weekend is a respite that makes us happy. When “the world seems too much with us,” as Wordsworth put it, sometimes we also need to read a book that is frothy enough to make us giddy. I read those books too.
As an aside, I didn’t need a coat that weekend either.