This picture is on a ranch in the middle of Colorado. I am moving soon to Iowa for a year. I tell people and they say back, “When are you moving to Idaho or Ohio.” Yes, we are vast and we are losing touch with our roots.
Lately, I haven’t been reading books after Miss Packer, but I’m reading the New York Times magazine cover to cover and some 2011 New Yorkers. Some articles remind me of the reason why I stopped my Creative Nonfiction magazine. They’re a little too fancy pants. Sure, I get their allusions to Leopold Bloom, to the Romantic period of art, but does everyone else? And does it really help to bring these disparate references together? I cringe, only because I teach a room of students how to write and most of them have not read Hemingway. I subject my class to hard stuff like Out Out by Robert Frost. Not to overwhelm or to impress, but for them to engage.
There’s a reason it’s hard to read, I say. It’s not just you. He wants us to stop, get stopped up, to trip and listen as we read. He wants us to experience the saw, hard and fast, and the smell of pine, the dispassionate people who go on getting ready for supper as the boy dies.
I guess the challenge is this: How do we make reading ready for the public, moreover, how do we connect people in a visceral way to something they’d never pick up? Allusions are not the way. They block and speak in high tones. We need to whisper, and grab, get down to our roots, then let go.