It’s been a long, long time since I’ve grieved over finishing a book, but for the past week that’s what I’ve been doing. A week or so ago I finished Don Kurtz’s South of the Big Four. When I was reading it, I knew I loved it. As I neared the end, I dreaded finishing it. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, it has become one of my favorite books. Ever.
Here’s the Publisher’s Weekly summary.
In gracefully unencumbered prose that evokes isolation and loss, this first novel uses the story of two Indiana men in order to pay elegiac tribute to America’s dwindling number of small farmers. At 30, narrator Arthur Conason chooses to live on the deserted property of his late father, a failed farmer, and work the fields for neighbor Gerry Maars. More successful than Arthur’s dad was, the abrasive, resourceful Gerry displays a tenacity that Kurtz clearly means to be emblematic of people who are unable to loosen their ties to a way of life whose increasing hardships break both the heart and the wallet. Though the solitary Arthur keeps his distance from everyone, his relationship with Gerry deepens as he grows to see his employer as a surrogate father. Kurtz effectively portrays the rhythms and the socioeconomic facts of this threatened world, but he stumbles when addressing his characters’ psychological or moral dilemmas. Their motivations remain unclear (e.g., we don’t understand why Arthur drifts in and out of relationships with successive women, or why these women seek him out). But he does handle the novel’s structure skillfully, seamlessly taking Arthur from the present to the past and back to the present as he struggles to come to terms with “an ever more impatient world.”
That’s pretty accurate, but it’s way more than that. It’s simply the best example of rural realism I’ve ever read. It’s not action-packed, but neither is life. Life is hard. Sometimes the good guys win. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there aren’t any traditional good guys. There’s just people. Trying to make it though another harvest. Another year. Another day.
One of the many passages I highlighted in my copy (an awesome, under-used Kindle feature) sounds a lot like a conversation I heard between my uncle and my mom around 1970, and a little like one I had with another angry mom in 2014.
Virtually every line of dialog in this book rings true, and could easily be something I heard growing up and living among farmers and rural people. I felt like I was hearing a compelling story from a friend or neighbor.
I love this book so much.
Posted in Life
The first pro football and pro baseball games I saw in person were in the Astrodome. It was truly a wonder to a country boy like me. But like the rest of us that came to be in the 60’s, it’s old and decrepit. People are still trying, against all odds, to save it. I wish it could be saved, but at some point we have to accept that it’s not going to happen. Hail Marys need someone to catch and run with the plan. With every heaved idea that thuds to the ground, it seems less and less likely to happen, especially without the taxpayers footing the bill. It’s a shame, but that’s life. We get old, we fall apart, we go away, people might talk about us wistfully for a while, and that’s it.
I wish a was a trapper
I would give thousand pelts
To sleep with Pocahontas
And find out how she felt
In the morning
On the fields of green
In the homeland
We’ve never seen.
Here at Newsome.Org, we want to not only make your life richer in tech and music, we want to help you extend it. So, we have the following suggestions.
One, don’t mess with anteaters.
Two, don’t try to cook a cobra.
Three, if you forget one and two, use a farm implement.
I am looking forward to this upcoming documentary on the failed Atari game.
More info here.
(via The Verge)
Posted in Life
Tagged atari, games
My extreme dislike of stupid words began around the time I noticed the first few car dealers replacing their used cars signs with ones that said pre-owned cars. Put a new word on something, and instantly convince the masses that it’s something different. The fact that it apparently works doesn’t help. It just makes me mad at humanity for being as dumb and gullible as they think we are.
Since then, there has been a steady stream of invented words, designed to fool us into all manner of beliefs and action. Web 2.0, semantic web, thought leader (by far, my most hated), etc. In real life, when people start talking at me in this language, I belittle them by saying “I don’t understand all these made-up words you’re using. Can you just talk regular?” The look on the person’s face and the laughter from anyone who overhears this (some of whom, by now, know it’s coming) almost make it worth it.
It’s harder to stop this semantic madness when you’re reading stuff online or (if you enjoy day old information) in those quaint newspapers. Over time, you become less sensitive to it, but it remains a mild irritant. Like shirts with starch in them. And ties. I don’t need a neck tie, because I have buttons. I don’t need to reach out to someone, because I can email them.
I’ve always been a Weird Al fan. Now, I have another reason to be one. This is my favorite of the recent Weird Al videos.
NOTE: Some stupid deal made by somebody seems to be preventing people from embedding the video, which means we all get forced to the WSJ page to see it. I just love the way old media tries to apply the old media rules to the web. It doesn’t make us love you, folks. It makes us as annoyed as some of the words in the clever music video you are holding hostage.
Regardless, the video is worth the trip. Good stuff.
From Farm Aid, 1986. Manor, Texas.
Posted in Life, Music