Thursday, September 9, 2010

books and essays

On of my favorite things about a new semester is new books. Really, pulling the new books off the shelves of the BYU bookstore makes me indescribably giddy. mmmmmmmm! I just look into my basket and sigh at all the information in those pages that is going to be in my brain in a very short amount of time. This semester, rummaging through the books with hundreds of other students in the bookstore on that day, I even picked up a book not on my class book list: A Patriot's History of the United States. It looked so beautifully blue and thick and full of stuff I don't know or don't remember that I couldn't resist - plus it will help satisfy the craving I've had lately to learn more about American history (true, it will have to sit on my shelf untouched until after the semester's over and I have time to read whatever I want... at which point I will also be reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, because it has been on my reading list for a long time, and I had another person today tell me how wonderful it was. Sold.)

Some of my favorite reading this semester so far has been, not surprisingly, from my Creative Non Fiction class. Reading and writing personal essays, very simply put, make me happy! I wanted to share one of my favorite essays from class today, found on the web at Brevity Magazine, which is an online literary journal featuring brief essays. This one's by Brian Doyle (a new-found favorite) and is called Pop Art. Que lo disfruten!

Pop Art

clever illustrationby Brian Doyle

In nine years I have been graced with three children and here is what I have learned about them. They are engines of incalculable joy and agonizing despair. They are comedy machines. Their language is their own and the order of their new halting words has never been heard before in the whole history of the world. They are headlong and hilarious. Their hearts are enormous and sensitive beyond calculation by man or machine. Their pride is vast. They are cruel, and move in herds and gaggles and mobs, and woe unto the silent one, the one who looks funny, the one who speaks awkwardly, the fat one, for she will be shouldered aside, he will never get the ball, she will never be asked to jump rope, he will not be invited to the pool party, she will weep with confusion and rage, he will lash out with sharp small fists. Yet they are endlessly kind, kind by nature, and among them there is often an artless democracy, a linking of arms against the vast puzzle of the long people. They search for rules and rank, for what is allowed and what is forbidden, and poke the rules to see which bends and which is steel, for they wish to know their place in the world, where they might walk, what they may wear, which shows are allowed, how far they can go, who they are. They rise early in excitement and return reluctantly to barracks at night for fear of missing a shred of the daily circus. They eat nothing to speak of but grow at stunning rates that produce mostly leg. They are absorbed by dogs and toast. Mud and jelly accrue to them. They are at war with wasps. They eat no green things. Once they learn sarcasm they use it with abandon, slashing here and there without control and wreaking havoc. When they weep they weep utterly from the marrows of their lonely bones. They will not speak of death but when it comes, a dark hooded hawk on the fence, they face it without fear. They are new creatures hourly, and what you think you know of them is already lost in the river. Their hearts are dense books no one can read. They speak many languages of the body. To them you are a stone who has always been and will always be. When they are ill they shrivel. To father them is not a brief noun but an endless verb that exhausts, enrages, edifies, elevates, educates; I am a thinner and grayer man than I was; and closer to joy. They frighten me, for they will make a new world on the bowed back of the one I love; but they delight me, for to have loved them is to have tasted the furious love the Maker has for what He made, and fathers still, and always will.


jessica renae said...

i lovelovelove that essay! and i can't wait to read whatever and ALLever i want to after school... ah, books. they make my mind happy, too.

Curt and Ronda said...

I LOVE this essay! It is wonderful and SO true and I am so glad you are reading such delightful things, and.....I bought The Patriot's History recently and when you are done with this semester we should study them together!

Hailey Jo said...

thats one thing that I despise about public school, all the books we use we have to return to the school :( sniffff