catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 7 :: 2008.04.04 — 2008.04.18


Extra copies

I try to keep an extra copy of the following books: Thomas Lynch’s The Undertaking; The John McPhee Reader; Douglas Coupland’s Life After God; Walter Wangerin’s Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace. They’re books about grief, wonder, wanting and wisdom, respectively. Collectively, they’re a four-volume book of living.

The first two are collections of essays.  Essay: “To test, try.” Here, in Lynch, is death, dying, grieving. There, in McPhee, is curiosity, wonder. How-to books, both. How to engage reality: testing, trying, why-ing. The second two are, by my reckoning, thinly veiled biography. Here is reality, and there is a veil. Both, non-fiction and fiction, are true. I keep copies of these books so I can give them away.

I also have extra copies of the Bible, but I only keep them. I don’t give them away. Why? Perhaps because I know how to talk about the others, because I can just as easily focus on craft and theory instead of turning, page one, to meaning. Or maybe because I know you’ll read the others in their entirety. Or because I like to think that I can introduce something new into your life. Or, those books say more about me than you. Perhaps I’ve convinced myself that there’s less accounting in not giving you The Book.

Thin motivations: see above. Solid motivations: refer to endnotes. But power, thank God, lies not in my motivations.

Where then? There is power in living in reality, in rending the veil. And words, words have power. I keep them, keep them so I can give them. I don’t trust my ears to hear or my eyes to see, but there are books to keep, books to give.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus