Sunday, April 05, 2009

Southity South

now reading: Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron

This book has spoken to me no fewer than two times. To begin, we have the experience of leaving home. This is something I ponder a lot, particularly now that I've been away from Arizona almost as long as I was there. There are still days, such as today in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as we walked into the desert display, when I get kind of gobsmacked by how much more sense my desert home makes to me than other places. Like New York. Then again, it's spring, and the Northeast never makes sense to me in the bi-polar springtime. I yearn for the Southwest in the spring more than any other season. However, I do know that the South is nice in spring, which brings me back to my point: Styron, the South, the sense of place and who we are.

"You go North -- you become expatriated, exiled. You reach out for the first symbol that completes your apostasy -- you become a Communist or a social worker or you marry a Jew. In all good faith, too, yearning to repudiate the wrong you've grown up with, only to find that embracing these things you become doubly exiled. Two losts don't make a found." -- p. 74

So William Styron gets it. Clearly. He's a great writer, and he has a sensibility that I really like. Next, how about divinity?

"...she thought of God -- painfully -- it was beyond reflection, like trying to picture your remotest ancestor. Who is He?" -- p. 140

That's fun, too. I just like how he puts things like that. I also like being plunged into his story and his Southern setting, replete with mimosas, sycamores, mosquitoes, country club dances, and sultry nights. But I really like the way he grasps what happens to you when you go to a new place.

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