By Bob Hicks
“Tuesday, May 22, 1990,” Rosanne Parry heads the first chapter of her newest novel. “West Berlin.”
Like a lot of writers, Parry just picks her scene and throws you right into the middle of it. Ah. Berlin. Nineteen-Ninety. Scant months after the jubilant tearing-down of the Wall.
Feels like yesterday — except that for the vast majority of Parry’s readers it wasn’t yesterday, it was before they were born, and so it might as well be a tale of the Peloponnesian War: it’s all ancient, and it’s all brand new.
Continue reading Le Carré for kids: Parry at the Berlin Wall
By Bob Hicks
Just a year ago, in this post about his reading adventures in 2009, Mr. Scatter confessed that he is a lousy keeper of lists, and therefore couldn’t report with any certainty on what he’d read in the previous twelve months. Some books, he was sure, had simply slipped in and out of his mind without leaving much of an impression. Others might have left a deep impression, but by the end of the year he couldn’t recall whether they’d made that impression in the previous calendar year or in, say, 1994.
If this seems odd, bear in mind that most of Mr. Scatter’s reading tends to be not from publishers’ current lists but from that great deep river of bookmaking that extends back through the centuries, constantly refreshing itself when anyone dips in. Books are like that. At some point they’re new, but after a certain point the good ones are simply current — or in the current. If someone reads, for instance, The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini for the first time in the year 2011, the experience throws that person into parallel universes: It is both 450 years old and current events. With that sort of time-traveling, no wonder Mr. Scatter gets a little scattered.
Continue reading Between the covers: reading in 2010
By Bob Hicks
Scatter friends Karen and John got home a few weekends ago from Hells Canyon Mule Days in Enterprise, in the Wallowa Valley of far eastern Oregon, and it got us to thinking about the big wide stretches and the places in America where work is still manual and landbound and practical in a vastly different and more elemental way than the workaday practicalities of living an ordinary urban life.
It was the thirtieth anniversary of Mule Days, and Mr. Scatter, who was on the spot for last year’s festivities, which he wrote about here and here, was sorry to miss the big blowout. Of course, with about 1,800 people (plus another 1,000 or so just up the road in Joseph) Enterprise is a giddy metropolis compared to the landscapes of two books we’ve been pondering lately — British photographer Jane Hilton‘s Dead Eagle Trail and Portland area novelist Rosanne Parry‘s Heart of a Shepherd. Both books take imaginative looks at territories where the high lonesome is not just a fact but also, often, a comfort of life. And don’t these two cowboys just look like they’re cut from the same cloth?
Continue reading Home on the range: separated at birth?