Saturday, October 12, 2019
Monday, October 07, 2019
Sunday, October 06, 2019
Blow, Charles M.
Brave Bird, Mary
Chaudhuri, Nirad C.
Ciszek, Walter SJ
Coetzee, J M.
Conway, Jill Kerr
Crick, Francis and James Watson
Dau, John Bul
Du Bois, W.E.B.
Dubus, Andre, III
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
Gray, Francine du Plessix
Guevara, Ernesto Che
Haley, Alex and Malcolm X
Hurston, Zora Neale
Kingston, Maxine Hong
Knausgard, Karl Ove
Lawrence, T. E.
Least Heat-Moon, William
Lewis, C. S.
Momaday, N. Scott
Oates, Joyce Carol
Parker, Mary Louise
Red Cloud with Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
St Aubyn, Edward
Smith, Tracy K.
Talley, Andre Leon
Thompson, Hunter S.
Washington, Booker T.
Watt, Robert Lee
White, Edmu d
White, T. H.
Wideman, John Edgar
Yen Mah, Adeline
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
fuck you ee cummings
now would be a tough time for ee cummings
what with autocorrect and all
because i'm writing an ee cummings poem
and i refuse to turn off autocorrect
because i want you to know how hard i worked
to write this for you
so instead of going the easy route
i'm training autocorrect
to accept, for example, a standalone lowercase i
i type it three times
and on the third time autocorrect starts to understand
that i will not relent
and it's like, "okay fine
what the fuck do i care
you can have your lowercase i, psycho."
yesterday i read a short article
they all have to be short these days
like these lines i'm writing now
are they short enough?
i can make them shorter
i've heard no one can concentrate anymore
so if you like
"accommodate" is probably too long a word
for the times
the short article i read
was written by a young woman
who photographs the dead and dying
which probably sounds weird
but she does it at the request of families
who want these pictures
and it's beautiful
there is one photograph
of a mother in a hospital bed
she has just given birth
and the baby has died
they knew he was going to die
because his lungs didn't form properly
so he was fine in utero
while oxygen was being provided
by his mother
but the moment he had to breathe on his own
that was that
the doctors took the baby
while he was still alive
and set him on his mother's chest
so they could feel each other, however briefly
and the baby wrapped his little arm
around his mother's face
a totally reflexive thing for a baby to do
grasp and cling, you know
but also, frozen in a photograph,
the most touching gesture i've ever seen
i will never forget that image
i will see it on my own deathbed
looking at it, i cried
but not like she did.
most of the time
the things i read
day after day
blend together into a drone of static
you know how that feels?
but that article
and that photo
jesus christ did i feel alive
sitting there weeping
it was glorious
to borrow that grief
my wife and i and some friends go to cape cod
for a week at the end of summer
and the past few years
there have been more and more sightings of great white sharks
last year a young man was killed by one
less than a mile from where we stood
sipping wine in the shallows
and a town councilman
started calling for sharks to be killed
like he was some third-tier character in "jaws"
the kind everyone in the audience knows is an asshole
and an idiot
my wife worries about the sharks
but i don't
let me say right now
that in the unlikely event i am killed by a shark
i do not authorize anyone to go killing sharks on my behalf
as though they are wrong
to eat bipeds
who present themselves as easy meals
particularly when those bipeds
are busy destroying everything
the sharks prefer to eat.
a few months ago i sat in a room with some very smart people
and asked them a question
i requested that they only answer yes or no
"do you value human life over all other kinds?" i asked
they all answered yes
only one of them hesitated.
we were working on a television project about climate change
and each day we talked to experts
about how everything is dying
and we are responsible
every one of them still believed
in an unshakable bedrock way
that human life is more valuable
than anything else.
me personally, i'll swerve and veer into a telephone pole
to spare a squirrel.
we sat in that room for weeks
drank dozens and dozens of beverages
seltzer and unsweetened tea and kombucha
and put the plastic containers in the recycling bin
like good citizens.
at night i would go home
and drink beer and then
when the clock indicated it was time
to go to bed
i would take an over-the-counter sedative
and still wouldn't really sleep.
the reason i'm mad at ee cummings
is because he convinced several generations of would-be poets
that writing in all lowercase letters is somehow inherently profound
it's just kind of dumb
and i don't care if ee cummings persists in the canon
and my work is forgotten
that doesn't make writing in all lowercase letters any less stupid.
sometimes talk among my friends turns to
the degradation of language
particularly written language
we care about these kinds of things
we're weird like that
and certainly it's not ee cummings' fault
that now everyone communicates
in abbreviations and cave scrawlings
but i'm angry
and he's a convenient target
and don't come at me with how
the rules of language
are classist and oppressive
designed to keep the tools of self-expression from the masses
i'm sick of that kind of talk
i grew up poor and i figured english out
so shut the fuck up and learn how to spell.
the friend of mine who cared the most about language
died last year
he was my best friend
and he just dropped
here today, gone tomorrow
that was hard
i drank too much for a while afterward
i drink a lot anyway
but in the months after he died
i was really getting after it
and i cried a lot
i wrote a book about him and us
that no one wants to publish
maybe because it's about two straight white guys
maybe because it's not a very good book
and that's okay
i think there are things about the book he wouldn't have liked
but he might have liked this poem
i wish i could show it to him and find out.
i'm tired of the drone of static
i don't want to hear your opinion
tell me instead about what you've lost
let me see the photo of the moment you lost it
rather than a photo of you on a beach
tell me about what you love more than anything
tell me about what scares you.
what i'm trying to say is
let's get real
fewer pictures of your brunch, please
and more pictures of dead babies
but we've had plenty of pictures of babies
now that i think about it
babies piled like cordwood in dachau
babies with their heads caved in in mississippi
babies burned and screaming outside trang bang
babies face-down in the rio grande
and we still go about our business
place our napalm orders before the end of the fiscal year
and fret idly about our bodyfat percentage
or whether men sit with their legs splayed too wide
on the subway.
so again, i want to hear from you about something real
but as a show of good faith
I'll go first
What scares me on this morning
is the thought that somewhere in the world
at a circus or some shitty unregulated zoo
somewhere in kazakhstan
someone is using an ankus
which is a fancy word for a sharp metal hook
to get an elephant to do things like stand on its back legs
or get on board a train car.
i worked for a circus once
it was a small operation and had no performing animals
but there was a guy there who had worked with larger outfits
like ringling brothers
he fancied himself something of an intellectual
and tried to make the case
that animals like elephants have to be abused
in order to get them to behave
he was dismissive of any argument to the contrary
like for example that maybe we shouldn't keep elephants in captivity
in the first place
for the purpose of entertaining us
and then they wouldn't need to "behave"
he was an asshole
he probably thinks climate change is a hoax
he's so smart and no one can pull the wool over his eyes
i hope someday an elephant stomps his fucking guts out
i mean it
that's a performance i'd like to see
i would stand and applaud.
yesterday i was doing pull-ups and pushups
in the park
like an idiot
and an acquaintance came by on a bicycle
on his way to work
he's a lawyer for the aclu
we talked about how the planet is burning
and how in the context of that fact
nothing else really seems to matter
i told him how in the room
where we wrote about climate change
the scientists told us things privately
that they would never say publicly
because no one would believe them
because the truth is too horrible to believe
we also talked about david buckel
a lawyer who set himself on fire in brooklyn in 2018
to bring attention to what we've done to the planet
and then my friend had to get to work
and i went back to my pull-ups and pushups.
david buckel set himself on fire in brooklyn
doused himself with gasoline
struck a match
added a bit more carbon to the atmosphere
to make a point
and that night
after they'd come and taken his body away
a woman took a picture of the charred grass where he'd died
and posted the picture on twitter
not to call attention to what he'd done
not to demand we pay attention to his death
but to complain to the municipality
about children having to see the scorch marks
as they played soccer
which is about as ridiculous a response
as i can imagine
to a man killing himself
to save everyone else.
who will think of the children, indeed.
i have a dream
that sometime in the future
we will finally understand what we've done
and every april 14th
on the anniversary of david buckel's death
hundreds of thousands of us will set ourselves on fire
to honor him.
did you know that elephants have pads in their feet
that let them communicate with each other over miles?
they don't like lifting their feet off the ground
you have to really hurt them to get them to do it
because to an elephant
lifting your feet off the ground
is like you and me covering our eyes and ears
did you know that elephants
will break into metal containers
to recover the bodies of family who have been slaughtered
and give them a proper burial?
that they have grieving rituals
they perform year after year?
that like us
they never forget their dead?
most people don't realize it
but climate change denial doesn't really exist
except in the united states
the reason for this
is a man named rupert murdoch
who for a long time has controlled
great portions of the media
in those countries
is worse than hitler
i don't say that lightly
i don't toss around words like "fascism" and "genocide" willy-nilly
so when i say
rupert murdoch is worse than hitler
know that i mean it
in practical terms
like lives lost
and i believe
if humanity survives in a form that can continue to record history
will bear me out
fuck you rupert murdoch
go back to where you came from
you aussie prick.
what i'm saying here is really important to me
by which i mean i have spent countless nights
in countless different rooms
staring at countless different ceilings and thinking about this
and because it's so important
and i want it to reach the widest possible audience
i decided to write a poem.
of course this is a pretty long poem
and free verse to boot
so if you decide you need to go do something else
i totally get it.
when you're a writer people sometimes ask
why you decided to be a writer
insofar as there's any answer
the thing i've settled on is that
writing is an act of faith
the faith that you and i love the same things
fear the same things
grieve the same things
no matter that i am a man and you are a woman
or that i am white and you are latino
or that i am american and you are afghani
faith, in short, that love and fear and grief are the same thing everywhere
and the rest is just details
and that if i write about the things i love and fear and grieve,
you will see yourself in me
and vice versa
and having looked in the mirror
and seen ourselves rendered strange yet recognizable
we will be less lonely and afraid and angry
and less inclined to want to kill each other
and less likely to dismiss each other's suffering
but that sort of feels like greeting card bullshit and
i am not interested in feel-good nonsense
or we-are-the-world platitudes so
let me offer the ballast of acknowledging
that there are real and meaningful differences between us
that i neither deny nor discount
all i'm suggesting is
i am capable of a trick
by which i can imagine
the lives of people who are not me
nothing more or less than that.
and that you are capable of it, too.
as an example, one of the earliest pieces of fan mail i ever got
was from a sudanese refugee living in canada
who read my first book
and wanted to thank me for rendering her experience of the refugee camps in south sudan
when i told her i was a white boy from new england
and had never set foot in sudan
let alone in the camps where so many people were slaughtered
she couldn't believe it
kept testing my story
to find the holes
but there were none
i just looked at some pictures, i told her
and wrote a story that
her heart knew to be true.
i can even put myself in rupert murdoch's mind
despite the fact that he's a demon from hell
who will be directly responsible for the deaths of millions
once the waters start rising in earnest
he loves his children i bet
i can latch onto that love
render his humanity
after all, there's plenty of evil in me, too.
neither of us will be spared, rupert, you shriveled, hateful old fuck.
sitting here looking at the baby lying on his mother's chest
appearing to sleep except for the blue tinge of his skin
sitting here thinking about the cuts behind the elephant's ears
and her loneliness
unable to hear her family through her feet
i feel an eruption of sadness so strong it seems i can't bear it
i know you've felt the same
so let's maybe talk about that
instead of which presidential candidate we favor.
don't worry; i'm not a revolutionary
i'm not brave enough to do anything except write
though i do sometimes have idle thoughts like
the last radical act left to us might be
to destroy the internet
if such a thing is even possible anymore.
this'll sound weird but
sometimes i worry the arrangement
between me and my dog
is one of warden and prisoner
that every act of domestication through history has been
nothing but evil
predicated entirely on the fact that we happen to have
the most impressive brains on the planet.
certainly plenty of animals have had worse lives than my dog
he's spoiled rotten
but i was listening to an interview with a guy who studies
the relationship between humans and animals
and he said something interesting about the movie "e.t."
what if e.t. had whisked elliott away to his home planet
and put a collar on him and told him when he could and could not
go to the bathroom
breathe fresh air
feel the sun on his face
had strapped elliott into some rig that kept him from being able to move anything
but his eyes
as e.t. and his buddies cut and prodded and shocked and burned
and then e.t.
said "sorry elliott, but
we simply had to know what kind of effect
this drain cleaner has when applied to your bare eyeballs
and left there for thirty-six hours
and we're smarter than you so
surely you can see how all this is entirely justified
or at least you would be able to see that
if you could see anymore
which you can't."
i think about those smart people in that room
cooking up stories about climate change
talking each day about how we've fucked everything up
and yet still so certain
that we're the best, most important thing
in the universe
with our big brains
and impressive thumbs.
i have no idea why this poem is becoming
but fuck it
sometime you just go
where it takes you.
a smart man once said
that the quality of our thoughts
can only be as good
as the quality of our language
so let me engage in something even more futile than writing a poem
or setting myself on fire
and ask you to communicate in complete sentences
ask you to care about the difference between
your and you're
ask you to understand
is how you become me
and i become you
is how we care more about dead babies
than fucking instagram sunsets
is how we learn to hear
with our feet.
Monday, September 09, 2019
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a
high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to
eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician—
nor is it valid to discriminate against "business documents and
school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must make
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Friday, August 16, 2019
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Sunday, August 11, 2019
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Friday, July 26, 2019
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Sunday, June 09, 2019
Saturday, June 08, 2019
Thursday, June 06, 2019
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Monday, June 03, 2019
Friday, May 31, 2019
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
2. Everyone is born with creative genius.
3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer's original voice or artistic self-esteem.
5. A writer is someone who writes.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Friday, May 10, 2019
Sunday, May 05, 2019
Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Monday, April 15, 2019
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Saturday, April 06, 2019
Thursday, April 04, 2019
"I suppose there are traditions and tropes in stories like this. Someone is given a test to carry out. No one knows who the truth bearer is. People are not who or where we think they are. And there is someone who watches from an unknown location."
"(Just as) no score relies on only one pitch or level of effort from musicians in the orchestra. Sometimes it relies on silence."
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
I've always been enthralled by the pre-Raphaelites because of the symbolism, but this post is mostly an excuse to post this amazing image.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Tuesday, March 05, 2019
Monday, March 04, 2019
Monday, February 25, 2019
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
A Simple Life
PNW (Pacific Northwest)
Bake at home garlic loaf
Ready in minutes
Onions sizzle transparent
to rich terroir brown
$7 French 2016
Bordeaux far Superieur
to any overpriced Cali
Red Hot Chili Peppers sing
"Just another way to survive"
Mis en bouteille chateau
Friday, February 15, 2019
Saturday, February 09, 2019
Monday, February 04, 2019
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Friday, January 18, 2019
Friday, January 11, 2019
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Monday, January 07, 2019
Friday, January 04, 2019
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Wednesday, January 02, 2019
The sun did not rise, it overflowed. ~ Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Any woman who is sure of her own wits is a match at any time for a man who is not sure of his own temper. ~ The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Books—the generous friends who met me without suspicion—the merciful masters who never used me ill! ~ Armadale by Wilkie Collins
Scattered wits take a long time picking up. ~ Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
"It's but little good you'll do a-watering the last year's crop." ~ Adam Bede by George Eliot
One must be poor to know the luxury of giving! ~ Middlemarch by George Eliot
"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?" ~ Middlemarch by George Eliot
"It hath been often said that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible." ~ Amelia by Henry Fielding
"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired." ~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. ~ This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again. ~ This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes. ~ A Room With A View by E. M. Forster
People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness. ~ Howards End by E. M. Forster
"The proper study of mankind is books." ~ Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley
Reason is the first victim of strong emotion. ~ Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future. ~ Dune by Frank Herbert
If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets. ~ Dune by Frank Herbert
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. ~ Dune by Frank Herbert
"I call people rich when they're able to meet the requirements of their imagination." ~ The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
To read between the lines was easier than to follow the text. ~ The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Impropriety is the soul of wit. ~ The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
"Life isn't long enough for love and art." ~ The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heaven. ~ Paradise Lost by John Milton
For the first time he perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself. ~ Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. ~ Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,
Or else my heart, concealing it, will break. ~ The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
To sleep! perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
We know what we are, but know not what we may be. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
A dream itself is but a shadow. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
Brevity is the soul of wit. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
All that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity. ~ Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
"Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, As self-neglecting." ~ Henry V by William Shakespeare
"We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep." ~ The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose. ~ Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
"The reality is pain--you said that! But it's the ies, the evasions of reality, that drive you crazy. It's the lies that make you want to kill yourself."
"...unless the past and the future were made part of the present by memory and intention, there was, in human terms, no road, nowhere to go..."
"we think that time 'passes,' flows past us, but what if it is we who move..."
"It is only in consciousness, it seems, that we experience time at all."
"In a dream there is no time, and succession is all changed about, and cause and effect are all mixed together. In myth and legend there is no time. What past is it the tale means when it says "Once upon a time'? And so, when the mystic makes the re-connection of his reason and his unconscious, he sees all becoming as one being, and understands the eternal return."
"Where is beginning or end? Infinite repetition is an atemporal process."
"...time has two aspects. There is the arrow, the running river, without which there is no change, no progress, or direction, or creation. And there is the circle or the cycle, without which there is chaos, meaningless succession of instants, a world without clocks or seasons or promises."
"Can one dismiss either being, or becoming, as an illusion?"
"it is not the answer we are after, but only how to ask the question..."
"You can only be the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution."
"Those who build walls are their own prisoners."
Saturday, December 29, 2018
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Friday, November 16, 2018
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Tuesday, November 06, 2018
Monday, November 05, 2018
Saturday, November 03, 2018
Of special note to bibliotherapy is Module 5: Can Creativity Heal?
Monday, October 29, 2018
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
When I read I withdraw from the phenomenal world. I turn my attention "inward." Paradoxically, I turn outward toward the book I am holding, and, as if the book were a mirror, I feel as though I am looking inward. ...
Also, the read-alikes associated with the title look quite promising for the obsessive/compulsive reader appetite.
Monday, October 22, 2018
Lucy does such a good job on her blog.
Can't recommend her site enough for bibliotherapy enthusiasts.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Monday, October 08, 2018
"...cuing, priming, framing, confirmation bias, and the conflation of correlation with causality--all these faults, built into the brain of the most problematic of large mammals."
"As certain as weather coming from the west, the things people know for sure will change. There is no knowing for a fact. The only dependable things are humility and looking."
"Everything in the forest is the forest. Competition is not separable from endless flavors of cooperation. Trees fight no more than do the leaves on a single tree. It seems most of nature isn't red in tooth and claw, after all. For one, those species at the base of the living pyramid have neither teeth nor talons. But if trees share their storehouses, then every drop of red must float on a sea of green."
"There are a hundred thousand species of love, separately invented, each more ingenious than the last, and every one of them keeps making things."
"Disaster is, as actuarial science proves..., just another number."
"...myths are basic truths twisted into mnemonics, instructions posted from the past, memories waiting to become predictions."
"...anchoring, causal base rate errors, the endowment effect, availability, belief perserverance, confirmation, illusory correlation, cuing--all the biases you've learned about..."
"Mastery gets on board, goes online, and a million more lonely boys emigrate to the new and improved Neverland."
"Play becomes the engine of human growth."
"...memory is always a collaboration in progress."
"You can't see what you don't understand. But what you think you already understand, you'll fail to notice."
"Dying is life, too."
"Life has a way of talking to the future. It's called memory."
"Ta-ne Mahuta, Yggdrasil, Jian-Mu, the Tree of Good and Evil, the indestructible Asvattha with roots above and branches below. Then she's back at the original World Tree."
"...what life wants from people, and how it might use them."
"This is how it must go. There will be catastrophes. Disastrous setbacks and slaughters. but life is going someplace. It wants to know itself, it wants the power of choice. It wants solutions to problems that nothing alive yet know how to solve, and it's willing to use even death to find them."
"Our home has been broken into. Our lives are being endangered. The law allows for all necessary force against unlawful and imminent harm."
In reading this novel, I searched for the connecting tendrils between the stories of the many diverse characters. I searched for the story's hero, but instead found not one but many. The psychologist, the scientist-forester-ranger, the artist, the vet, the death survivor, the actuary, the advocates, the lawyer, the wannabe actress, computer programmer, academics, engineers, even the supporting characters radiate intention and quest. The background characters blocking evolutionary pathways, whether judges-police-lumbermen, are as incidental as mountains and life goes on growing around the unsympathetic groundswell.
The Pacific Northwest is the setting for much of the story, but the entire U.S. is traversed with Powers connecting roots of characters and trees from coast to coast. Botanical drawings are interspersed throughout the text, almost like portraits, the trees themselves the real heroes.
Chapters are divided: Roots, Nicholas Hoel, Mimi Ma, Adam Appich, Ray Brinkman and Dorothy Cazaly, Douglas Pavlicek, Neelay Mehta, Patricia Westerford, Olivia Vandergriff, Trunk, Crown, Seeds. Each chapter is a novel in its own right and each main character is associated with a tree species: chestnuts, pine, elm-ash-ironwood-maple, oak-linden, fig-banyan, redwoods, beech, ginko, apple. The myths, historical and factual information alone are mind-blowing, but all together they transcend the novel form into a text that can only be described as a lesson in life.
(paraphrased) Three trees: Lote-boundary of the 7th heaven that none shall pass, mulberry-of the magical elixir of life, and Now--the tree that grows all around us and in us and follows us wherever we go. Luohan Arhats-adepts who have passed through the four stages of Enlightenment and now live in pure, knowing joy. A sacred tapestry: leaning on a staff in a forest opening, peering through the narrow window in a wall, sitting underneath a twisted pine. Powers is the silkworm weaving the spirit of all of these disparate experiences together in one massive tome, a testament to the beauty and power of nature.