Out of Our Element

This was written in the early 1990s. How much more true must this be now? Even as we separate ourselves from nature, nature comes roaring in at the barricades with ever more fury.

Never in his history has man drifted so far from nature as now, and this has been perhaps the worst of our mistakes.

From A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East by Tiziano Terzani

There are probably several remedies. We’ve seen the horrible outcomes of those societies that have tried a forced return to some agrarian ideal. History is soaked in the blood of those “great ideas.” Even so, there must be some third way which we can connect to and, more importantly, be grounded in nature.

Great Writing Finds a Way

After writing about baseball, I have stumbled into the world that is amazing sports writing. I’ve always read about sports but seldom baseball. With the news of Roger Angell’s passing, I think it’s time to dive into some high quality writing about baseball.

From the New Yorker, here’s what Roger wrote in a recent book of more personal writing:

“Getting old is the second-biggest surprise of my life, but the first, by a mile, is our unceasing need for deep attachment and intimate love,” he wrote in “This Old Man.” “I believe that everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight, together in the dark, with the sweet warmth of a hip or a foot or a bare expanse of shoulder within reach.”

If a passage like this is anything like what Roger brought to his baseball writing, I’m excited to check it out. I imagine there’s a Frank Deford book that could stand a little attention as well.

This seems to get at the root of how so many revolutionary movements fall apart as soon as they achieve success. The struggle hones the effort and focuses the vision in a way that power, control, and success undermine.

Another excerpt from Giai Phong. Published in 1976, before the confirmation of the Khmer “killing fields” and the horrors of S-21 came to light. I wonder how the author, Terzani, felt about this passage years later?

I’m reading Giai Phong by Tiziano Terzani and these passages about Saigon in April 1975 call to mind what it might be like for some parts of Ukraine. We’ve learned nothing in the last 46 years.

Onto the Favorite List

Finished reading: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 📚

A stunning book with language and characters that will sit in my mind for years to come. There’s so much here to live but what stands out from all the rest is the character of Agnes. O’Farrell’s ability to make her at once a “weird witch” and a passionate lover and a grieving mother is a stroke of genius.

Because we know the story, the power comes from the details of how these people move through their world. Their concerns and interests and patterns are fascinating even in their simplicity. O’Farrell’s language makes it all feel grounded in a natural world which isn’t ambivalent but is instead comforting in its lack of fickleness.

I don’t reread many books but I might circle back to this one sooner than any other.

It's Always Family

Finished reading: Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey 📚

I don’t know if the authors had this ending plotted out from the beginning or not. It doesn’t really matter. The achievement of this series was to tell a story that had enough hard science, enough realpolitik, and enough woo-woo aliens while still being able to stay focused and driven by the human characters.

This final volume in The Expanse series gave me a chance to see how families can change, adapt, and find each other again. That feels like the greatest triumph. There were parents who let their children down, parents who got a second chance, and children who found parents where none were to be had. Through all the millions of miles of space and the machinations of a handful of political systems, humans finding connection in ways that matter is what won.

This is a more than worthy finale to one of my favorite science fiction series. I suspect I’ll reread this from start to finish in a few years.

I’ve just started rereading Alastair Reynolds’s Revelation Space. I had forgotten how great this book is. So many intriguing ideas and tantalizing thoughts about long history and how the human psyche might perceive it. 📚

This book’s sense of place, and light, and heat, and shadow has me jealous beyond measure.

Currently reading: In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel by Andy Davidson 📚

To write a first page like this must feel like one could simply mold the world to your will. Stunning every time I read it. From Matthiessen’s Shadow Country 📚

Beginning another read of my second all-time favorite book.

Currently reading: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen 📚

Currently reading: the last days of new paris by China Miéville 📚

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