Monthly Archives: September 2007

Origin, by Diana Abu-Jaber

If you’re not a parent–or it’s been a while since you had a baby–you may not know that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or, formerly, crib death) is a Big Deal in the pediatric world these days. We were barraged with warnings when our daughter was born earlier this year: put your baby to sleep on her back (not tummy); no blankets, pillows, or stuffed toys in the crib; don’t sleep with your child in your bed; don’t let your child get too warm while sleeping. It’s enough to make a new mom paranoid–of course, it doesn’t take much!

So when I saw that Abu-Jaber’s new novel dealt with SIDS cases, eager as I was to pick up another work by the author of Crescent, I wondered whether I should read it. Would it just increase my anxieties? But I reassured myself that, based on the fact that this is a crime mystery, the infants probably didn’t really die of SIDS. But then, who would want to kill a baby? Continue reading

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Dwight Droz, Farmer Poet

If Robert Burns is the farmer poet of Scotland, Dwight Droz is the farmer poet of the rural community of Scandia, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. My husband, who spent several of his growing-up summers working in Droz’s commercial garden, tells stories of rock-germinating fields, hearty farm-style dinners at noon, and chess games before returning to the furrows. It is only in the past decade or so that Droz (now over ninety) has been publishing his books of poetry and memoir, but it appears that he has been writing–and, at times, broadcasting–since childhood. Continue reading

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Faith and Poetry of Madeleine L’Engle

I was sorry to hear that L’Engle passed away on September 8. I would have liked to meet her, slim though the chance might have been. L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was one of the first books I bought with my own money. My fourth-grade teacher had read it to the class, and I liked it so much I wanted my own copy. However, my big purchase precipitated buyer’s remorse, so I sold it to a classmate and returned to the bookstore for the title I had not yet read, A Wind in the Door. These two and their sequel, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, remained among my favorites throughout childhood and are still high on my list.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, Part II

Barbara Kingsolver ranks high on my list of authors with whom I would love to have a lengthy chat (along with Diana Abu Jaber and Khaled Hosseini). Besides the fact that I admire her literary artistry, I am intrigued by Kingsolver’s spiritual and religious views. I tend, for example, to think Nathan Price in The Poisonwood Bible so deranged that Kingsolver could not have intended anyone to take him seriously as representative of evangelical missionaries. … But does this character suggest Kingsolver perceives missionaries or evangelicals generally in a negative light?

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Kingsolver frequently references her rural childhood and observes that many of the small farmers she writes about are probably church-goers (though she mentions appreciatively that they keep their religion to themselves) (204-05). I assume Kingsolver, having grown up in such an environment herself, had a fair amount of exposure to Christian spirituality, if not from her family, at least from her neighbors. Regardless, she is now an evangelist for evolution, with a graduate degree in evolutionary biology. Continue reading

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, Part I

Barbara Kingsolver is #74 on the list of America’s most dangerous people, according to the author of a recent well-publicized book cited in Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 236). I’m not sure how Kingsolver earned her stripes in that author’s opinion, but I would agree that her linguistic artistry, self-deprecating humor, and winsome enthusiasm for her cause impart a formidable ability to win converts to just about any position.Well, maybe not any. Actually, I was already in at least theoretical sympathy with Kingsolver’s commitment to local, organic food, so I didn’t need much convincing, but Kingsolver’s treatise broadened my understanding and deepened my convictions. (I just bought some bean and pepper plants for a nascent garden on the balcony of our condominium. So I’m a little late getting started … at least I’ll get a feel for container gardening.)

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