Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The morning meme

In lieu of the meme I should have done, here is a Breakfast Meme of my own. I have just survived the morning meal, and I don't have much else rattling about in my mind.

* * *

Tell three stray thoughts you had over breakfast.

One, that our historical records will look just as violent and savage as, say, those of the Medieval world. But will we look, in the end, a lot less interesting?

Two, that Observatory Mansions finally was the right story with the right narrator to fit and make meaningful the fashionable flatness of so many of our books.

Three, that it is most annoying when one of three school-bound children decides abruptly that he no longer eats the thing labored over in the wee hours--in this case, a jolly Yank-style bowl of boiled oatmeal. Oh, the terrible discovery that there is the vile substance called milk in the oatmeal!

(Of course, I still prefer grits. Preferably with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and eggs.)

Four, just because I refuse to be good: On his morning show, I wish Garrison Keillor would read more Yeats and Keats and so on and fewer poems about professors, dogs, and newspapers. This is a thought I think frequently over breakfast, after the children have departed.

Did you read over breakfast? Why or why not? What did you read, if you did so?

Nothing. Three children. The negotiation of calm, the appeasement of wrath, the cobbling together of homework.

Tell your dreams in one line.

Woke up with a shriek, dreaming of a bed with sleeping children all covered in white--something thick and plumey, with hangings everywhere--and outside a long, long hallway with the same white feathery things dangling from the walls and ceiling, going on and on, and I have to go down that soft, shadowy hall.

Sort of like Snow Babies run amuck. Two lines. Oops, three--now four.

Joy, they say, comes in the morning. What book(s) have you read lately that gave you a keen sense of that elusive quantity, painful or pleasant?

Recent? A stray anthology of poems called Tongues of Fire, plucked off a shelf and read over a dying man. Certain poems by Charles Causley. Yeats. Hopkins. Those are good reasons to read more poems.



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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.