Cherish books. Be determined never to live without them. They’re difficult to keep in the tropics, but try. I have books I’ve carted around the world for fifty years. They’ve seen the world. Many are worn, many are torn, many are frayed–held together with scotch tape, Elmer’s glue and duct tape–but all sit on my shelves and are dearest friends. I’m holding a hard bound–once upon a time–Thesaurus, with pages so messed up, so strung out, so dangling, I wonder through words like a kid lost in a fairy tale forest.
Words. Twenty-seven letters in the English alphabet strung together into meaning. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs. The primary colors writers use to paint pictures with black ink on white paper.
A recent book that found my desk is a New York bestseller, Sense of Style, the Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker. He claims, rightly, writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and intellectual fascination. Delightful. Explosive. I recommend it to all writers.
His incredible wife’s –Rebecca Newberger Goldstein–new book 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, is beyond a must read. If you love to laugh, enjoy wit, brilliance and entertainment find this ‘literary miracle’. It’s sad we don’t have a bookstore on Kauai. We’re so backwoodsy. Order it from Barnes and Noble or our very own used bookstore in Hanapepe.
But my most priceless new possession is Richard Dawkins’ Brief Candle in the Dark. It’s signed. I carry it with me wherever I go. There’s always a park bench, a chair at a table, some shade beneath a tree. Started reading it on the plane flying home. Can’t put it down. I’m trying to read all three at the same time.
Richard is ‘one of the best nonfiction writers alive today’, says Steven Pinker and he should know.
What I loved is the earthiness of it. Richard’s incredible life, his mind, his charm. His story telling ability. Soon you feel you know his family, his wife–the beautiful actress and artist Lala– to whom the book is dedicated and who paints all his ties. (Queen Elizabeth complained about one of them he wore to lunch.) You fall in love with his daughter, Juliet, who became ‘a fourteen- year- old hero’ when her mother died of cancer. All his friends become your friends. All his adventures become your adventures. He writes about people we all love, John Cleese, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. I think he knows everybody. He sounds a trumpet blast for truth. He cares.
“Richard always writes like he’s telling a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story’ s his own life, it’s doubly compelling.” BILL MAHER.
Someone cautioned me, quoting 1 Corinthian 1:25-18 , “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
….blessed are the dense for they will inherit the earth?
Let us hope not.