Friday, October 1, 2010
Proust, Chowder, and John Brown’s Body
Early each morning, well before sunrise, in a harbor of yellow light created by a small lamp my mother brought home years ago, I have been reading Proust. Progress is slow, about ten or twelve pages per sitting; still, I am 803 pages into the first volume and I’m enjoying the book immensely. There’s an obsessive, neurotic quality in Proust’s writing that I like, and it’s not without its own subtle humor.
I have also been reading Stephen Vincent Benét’s long Civil War poem, John Brown’s Body. That reading, though, takes place much later in the day, generally in the waning hours of the afternoon. A beautiful book.
Yesterday, my wife and I escaped to the ocean. To see the sea we need travel less than sixty miles, a trip that takes a little over an hour. The weather there was remarkably warm, calm, and clear. A thin veil of mist hugged the cliffs along the beach. With school back in session, few people were about. The midday sunlight was blinding. Across the tide and wet sand was a sheen of purples, pinks, and blues. Gulls in flight skimmed the sand with the tips of their wings. We stopped at a restaurant for clam chowder.
In the Forum: Heaven’s deadly elbow patches.