Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Haiku: A Murder of Crows

a murder of crows
there is safety in numbers
collective wisdom


Photo: A Murder of Crows (term for flock of crows)
Credit: Online Magazine


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Remembering Mary Oliver

Photo from Orion Magazine
There are some people who, when they die, all you can think of is the light that they imparted.

It was sad to hear of the death of Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver. She said in an interview on National Public Radio that "The two things I loved from a very early age were the natural world and dead poets, [who] were my pals when I was a kid."

To read or listen to NPR's recollection of the widely loved American poet,  visit the link at "Beloved Poet Mary Oliver, Who Believed Poetry 'Mustn't Be Fancy,' Dies At 83"


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bluebird, Bluebird: A book Review

I just finished reading a beautifully written novel by Attica Locke, Bluebird, Bluebird.  I heard about it when I listened to an interview with the author on NPR while driving to work over a year ago. I was intrigued by the interview and the discussion of the book. As soon as I parked the car, I took a notepad that I keep near the dashboard and wrote, “Bluebird, Bluebird, Attica Locke.”  Time passed and I came across the note. Remembering that is was a good interview, and that the book held some insights into race relations in the South, I decided to find the book.

Since my wife and daughter had given me a Nook last Christmas, finding the book was as simple as a search on Nook’s shopping page.  The novel is something of a crime drama, or a mystery detective story involving an African American Texas Ranger who is caught up in one unsolved murder as he goes down to investigate another murder in the rural East Texas town of Lark. That one is actually two murders. The body of a young black man washes up in the bayou, and the next day the body of a young white woman washes up in the same bayou.

Attica Locke’s storytelling is compelling and tightly woven.  Her story sheds light on the intricacies of family relationships as well as the complexities of race relations in small southern communities. One gets to hear about black families who migrated north to escape the oppression of the South. The reader also gets a view life for those who stayed.  As Locke puts it as she narrates the story, “Most black folks living in Lark came from sharecropping families, trading their physical enslavement for the crushing debt that came with tenant farming, a leap from the frying pan into the fire, from the certainty of hell to the slow, hot torture of hope.”

Bluebird, Bluebird is a suspenseful page-turner of a novel.  A great story with fully developed characters, but more than that, the writing is sheer beauty.  Locke expresses every detail of the world she invites us to inhabit so that we get the sounds, the colors, the sights and the smells of the full environment. I could almost feel the humid summer night air by that East Texas bayou as the tale unfolded.

There is one scene in which Darren, the Texas Ranger, is riding in his truck with Randie, the widow of the young black man whose murder he is investigating. He rolls down the window for a moment and then puts it back up. Even in that simple moment, Locke fully describes the aromas of the night air, the feel of the wind in the cab of the truck, and the sounds that are made by the air as the truck window closes. It is the many details like that make this make this a rich, dynamic and unforgettable story.

I can highly recommend this book. I have no disclosures to make. No one asked me to write this review. Barnes and Noble is not paying me to say I read it on my Nook, nor do I have any financial investments in Nook or any other Barnes and Noble products.  Moreover, I am not employed by NPR. I’m just a guy who listens to Public Radio and enjoys a good book, passing this one along to you.

*   *   *

About halfway into the novel, the title is explained when the jukebox in Geneva’s café plays a John Lee Hooker record as the protagonist is leaving and he hears the opening line, “Bluebird, bluebird, take this letter down south for me…”


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