It’s the little things

I don’t pretend to have any brilliant insights to offer in our “situation,” except to say that we are all frightened, we are all angry, we all feel isolated.

I would hope not only for faith and hope, but that we are all able to acknowledge our gratitude for the big things—shelter, food, family, and yes, all those electronic devices we’ve been bitching about for ages. How ironic that the phones, laptops, and tablets that have separated us from each other, even from our family members, are now the only way to stay connected with each other.

Yet so often comfort and emotional sustenance hide in the barely discernible little things that ordinarily wouldn’t mean much. When you think about it, that’s probably how most of us are staying afloat. 

Reading is one of the greatest pleasures in my life (and probably also some what of a compulsion), but I’ve been struggling to read throughout these last two weeks. I get through a page or two only to find that I’ve missed a beat or three, or ten, and have to go back and re-read the last four paragraphs. I’ve been able to focus enough to cook or bake or clean, but not to read. 

About a month ago, just before the sky began to fall, I started a fascinating piece of nonfiction, Firebrand, The Life of Horace Liveright, by Tom Dardis. subtitled “The Man Who Changed American Publishing.” Never heard of him, right? The monolithic publishing houses that evolved in the last century amassed make-or-break power over writers, and for decades have decided which books sit on the shelves of our libraries, our bookstores, our classrooms, our nightstands. Liveright’s tiny publishing house bucked all the publishing giants of his time, and he was never afraid of veering off the socially acceptable course. He had a hand in the career of just about every single American literary giant of the first half of the 20th Century, as well as some from across the pond. He stood up against censorship. He succeeded as a Jew when nearly everyone around him, including many famous writers, was brazenly anti-Semitic. I love this book, but I’ve only been able to manage a few pages a day, given my current all-over-the-place distraction. Two months ago, I would have finished Firebrand in a week at most. 

Last night, craving something to read that would hold my fragile attention, I raided my bookshelves. The strangest thing happened. Poking around, I discovered a book behind a book… one I’d totally forgotten was there, and the only Anne Tyler I’d never read, Noah’s Compass. To my even greater surprise, it was an autographed copy that I must have picked up at a long ago book sale. From a past post, “Thank you, Anne Tyler,” you’ll recall how much I love this writer and the quirky, poignantly human world into which each of her books draws us.

I’ve had Anne Tyler’s latest, Redhead by the Side of the Road, on pre-order for weeks, but who knows how long that might take? In the meantime, I have Noah’s Compass. I’m back in that quirky, poignantly human world, insulated from the steady stream of bad news, attention span problem solved. Such a little thing, and yet…not so little at all.. 

That, my friends, is why the world needs writers.

Thank you again, Anne Tyler.

17 thoughts on “It’s the little things

  1. Apple Hill Cottage

    With my dream vacation to Scotland in June on hold, and likely cancelled, I’m enjoying Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street stories. I too, though, struggled to find something–had to put several down. Who needs depressing literature when this is going on! Stay well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Mary Hart

    Like you, Angela, I find it almost impossible to read – the daily paper and a meditation from
    RichardRohr,( a Franciscan priest who has done incredible work at the Center for Contemplation and Action). His words are always enlightening and I love that he calls on multiple religious thinkers and philosophers as he develops his points. ( If you are interested, you can email The Center for Contemplation and Action, and sign up for daily emails).Hope you and your family are doing well ; we’re under”shelter at home” here in Lackawanna County. I”ve been doing it for 3 weeks anyway- except for daily walks. I’ve been checking in on an older friend who’s housebound with severe arthritis and just had a TIA. At least I can stand on her porch and wave and say hi. Sadly, she doesn’t know how to use FaceTime and finds iPhones just ok. Anyway, stay safe and well!
    When I can dare to take up a book – and finish Isabel Allende’s
    latest, I think I will take your revelation re. Ann Tyler; she’s always a great escape!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. francefougere

    So right, dear Angela. So right.
    I do like reading, so much, never too much, but it is difficult to concentrate by these hard times.
    Everything will have an end.
    But, for the first time, last evening, I had a sore throat. No cough, no temperature. One or two monthes ago, I should have not pay attention, maybe too much fresh air on the balcony.
    But, I could not sleep until this morning…
    Before, to stay in the dark, I look a tvfilm, a mother who was fighting to adapt a baby-girl.
    A fighting mother, always smiling. And she win.
    Take great care, Angela and all of you.
    Bises, amitiés 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. londonlifewithliz

    I love Anne Tyler, too, and had tickets to see her give a talk in London this month. Needless to say, her visit to the UK has been postponed, but I hope the opportunity will arise again in the future, once these have troubled times have passed. In the meantime, I shall return to her writing, which is always so warm and wise; just what is needed right now.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Ron

    Well written Angela! I too I’m experiencing the lack of being able to engage but for me, it’s writing. I sat down in front of my keyboard a number of days knowing the general idea of the post I wish to compose but just can’t engage. But, tomorrow I will approach it from a different direction and I’m optimistic I’ll get cracking.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings and thoughts during this time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Angela

      Thank you for reading, and for your comment. I’m having a bit of a block myself. Hope you had a lovely Easter nonetheless, and that all are safe and well.

      Like

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