Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Finding the right books at the right time

There's a quote I love from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" (another book I keep recommending!)  You probably know it;  “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

It's happened to all of us, hasn't it? 

It popped into mind as I was deep into my first Randall Silvis novel. A new to me author I discovered through NetGalley.com.  

An author with a protagonist, Ryan DeMarco, who is both darkness and light.  

A protag who has seen and lived the worst the world could give him, and yet never gives in.  He comes close sometimes, but then . . . he's back.

He's able to find hope in beauty - poetry, literature, music and nature.  

He's philosophical by nature and Randall Silvis gives Ryan DeMarco a voice that resonates with intelligence, feeling, empathy and great depth. 

I think a comparison of Ryan DeMarco and James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux would be a fair comparison.  

You can read a terrific interview Judith Collins did with Mr. Silvis here.  They go into some interesting parallels between the author, his life and his characters.  Along with Mr. Silvis' own philosophy about his life and his writing.

The book I found through NetGalley was the fourth in the Ryan DeMarco series.  "No Woods So Dark as These."  

The minute I finished it I downloaded books 1, 2 and 3 in the series onto my Kindle.

There are passages I have read and re-read over and over, and there's one passage that has lodged itself deeply in my mind.  And damn if I can find it now!  I always re-read books that affect me as deeply as these have, so I know I will find it again, but not now when I'd very much like to share it with all of you.

It has to do with looking back.

Remembering where you came from and who you would be if you had stayed there.

Possibly/Probably not the same person you are if you've moved on.

Would you have gone the places you've gone?  Done the things you've done?  Accomplished the things you're proud of?

Regardless, you'll always be, to those people back home, the person they knew then.

To them, you haven't changed.  

This struck me as so truthful that it's hurtful.

For a long time after leaving home I wondered about moving back.  And seriously considered it more than once.  The opportunities came, but I never made the move.

And now, at age 72, the desire to test those waters has long since passed.

I've never feared or disliked change - IF there was a reason for it.

And because of this, I've moved around, I've tried some things, and done some things that I don't think I would have if I had stayed where I was raised.

I still love The Eastern Shore of Maryland.

It's beautiful and I have wonderful memories.

But memories are, and should be, just that.


I don't want to be, as the person I am now, that person my friends remember me as.  

Not any more.

It was great then.

But it's done.

I wouldn't change a thing, but . . . 

Like Ryan DeMarco, I moved on.

And now - Serendipity.

Don't you love serendipity?

And, here again, it has to do with reading choices.

I'm a huge fan of the on-line magazine The Bitter Southerner.

I read it religiously, and know I'm reading some of the best writing that's being written today.

If you're not familiar with it, I suggest you read the story behind the magazine.  The how and way it came to be.  They have created a pretty amazing thing.  (And there's some fun shopping there too!)  


After reading and contemplating Ryan DeMarco's philosophy about leaving home, I happened across A Conversation with Stephanie Soileau in The Bitter Southerner.

She talks about her stories in her new book, "Last One Out Shut Off the Lights."  

And one of the topics covered in her stories is the subject of leaving home.  "When you leave, you also sacrifice a piece of yourself, or else find a new identity in ways that alienate you from your homeplace."




During this time of social distancing, I'd really enjoy, I think, sitting down with Ryan DeMarco via Randall Silvis and Stephanie Soileau for a drink and chat.

But, since that is not likely to happen, I plan on looking into some of the non-series books Mr. Silvis has written. And, Ms. Soileau's book is on its way.

Maybe getting through this whole pandemic thing (and November 3rd) without losing my mind completely has a lot to do with finding the right book at just the right time. Or it finding me.

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
 ― The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Lesa said...

Rabbit holes! Just one thing leads to another. Now, I have to go read the article you referred to. Beautiful post, Kaye. A post to make you think. Would I be the person I am today if I had stayed in Huron? Definitely not. And, I'm very happy with what I've done and where I've gone since I left.

Interesting. Very interesting. Thank you.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I think this pandemic is moving us all to be a bit more introspective, Lesa.

If I had stayed in Cambridge and you had stayed in Huron would we have ever traveled to Paris together?

Lesa said...

Well, we certainly have more time to ourselves to be introspective!

No, I don't think we would have traveled to Paris together. As I said in my comment to you, who knows where I would have traveled.

Kathy Reel said...

Great food for thought, Kaye. When a book touches you or speaks to you, it's a transcending moment. You aren't the person you were before you read that book. You're more in tune to something you weren't before, a gobsmacking of sorts.

Going home again. Can we ever. Well, no we can't ever go back to what something was, because time brings change, whether we want it to or not. We certainly can't go back to a memory and recreate it. That's why we treasure them so. I love my hometown and sometimes wonder what my life would have been if I hadn't left, or if I wanted to go back now. And, like you, Kaye, even loving the place, I'm glad I made the moves I did.

You've led me to some thinking, Kaye, and that's wonderful. I plan on looking up your authors and books you've mentioned. And, you've got me writing a blog in my head about those books that grabbed our soul.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Kathy, I'm going to enjoy reading this blog. You have a gift with words and I think this is going to be a piece you'll work some of your magic with. Keep me posted, please! And do let me know what you think of Randall Silvis!

Randall Silvis said...

Thank you for the very kind words, Kaye. Might I suggest my novel The Boy Who Shoots Crows as a non-series read? :)
All the best,

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Randall Silvis - Thanks so much for stopping by!
The Boy Who Shoots Crows in happily residing on my Kindle as we speak.
I look forward to reading it.
And - thanks for sending the August newsletter.
Take care,