Wednesday, June 4

So far this summer, I have read two books.

I bought One for the Morning Glory, by John Barnes, in a used book store in Grand Junction, Colorado last August. I bought it because it had pretty good cover art and because A Million Open Doors was amazing. I remember it was not far on the shelves from an old copy of Atlas Shrugged, which I had read not long before, and I remember that the guy at the counter seemed dusty and wore glasses, and I stood for a long time waiting for him to pencil my purchase into a book and figure out a price. I do not think there was a cash register involved.

One for the Morning Glory was not very good. Nor was it spectacularly bad. It was clever and mildly amusing, and not a great deal else, but even after reading the book the cover art still seemed good. I suppose that is worth something.

The Brothers K, by David James Duncan, was amazing. I do not read fiction like I once did, but Duncan's stuff is a reminder of the power it can still hold over me - and the power that it so seldom really uses. It is a concrete example of what writing is really for, once we have learned to do more with it than tabulate harvests or record the intervals of floods.

The River Why and The Brothers K are both grounded partly in things - fishing and baseball, mill town life, Vietnam, and Russian novels - which I will probably never grok, but that does not really matter. They are also grounded in a deepness and richness of life that rings as true as anything I have ever read.