January 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
Raymond Carver is like an old friend I call up every so often just for the conversation. I see him as rumpled and kind of uh huh-ing into the phone’s receiver. He never disappoints. His is often one of the books I pick up—either poetry or short story—late at night if I cannot sleep. His people are real and often up against it but somehow even in the most dire of circumstances, there is humor and gritty hope. Toward the end of his life, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in May of 1988 from the University of Hartford. At the Commencement ceremony, he offered a meditation on a line from Saint Teresa. It was his last-written work of prose and I offer a part of it here—it’s good to think about at night when you cannot sleep.
“Words lead to deeds….They prepare the soul, make it ready, and move it to tenderness.” Carver comments that, “There is clarity and beauty in that thought expressed in just that way. I’ll say it again, because there is something a little foreign in this sentiment coming to our attention at this remove, in a time certainly less supportive of the important connection between what we say and what we do: Words lead to deeds….They prepare the soul, make it ready, and move it to tenderness.” Not a bad thought for a writer any time of the day or night.
January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
In the Spring of 2009 before I began to write the short story that would turn into a book, I took a 5 week French Immersion course at the Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia. The Université was the same one my Uncle Leo attended as a student between 1909-1911. I was conscious then, as I often have been in Nova Scotia, of following his footsteps. In the older section of the school where our classes were held, the wooden floors creaked under my footsteps as they must have in the years before my uncle went to the Great War.
I hadn’t gone to the Université because I wanted to write a book but because I wanted to understand where I came from in a deeper way and language has always been a portal into that understanding whether in English or French. The immersion program wasn’t the easiest 5 weeks I’ve ever spent in my life but it threw me into the language pool and I’m still paddling away in le français. It prepared me to talk with my relatives and to travel to France. My language gaffes have always been treated with good humor and that lack of malice has had the effect of provoking a kind of bravery as I attempt to get my ideas across to the bemused speaker before me. I write this to encourage anyone at any age to plunge into a foreign language. I rather doubt in my case that the book I wrote could have been written in English had I not studied French.
You can read tip #2 on Visiting Historical Sites from the interview in The Peaks Island Press here
January 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
A Generation of Leaves is my second novel. It started out as a short story written in the summer of 2008 in the small French Acadian fishing village of Middle East Pubnico, Nova Scotia, my father’s birthplace. Five years and much research, travel and rewrites later, it is here, a grown up novel filled with characters I have come to know. I hope in this year of 2014, to follow its progress through these entries.