Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reading in Oregon

One of my favorite holiday treats is to read the newest issue of Smithsonian magazine, [today Sunday 11/16 the magazine website does not yet have the December issue up, but that should be there soon] whose subscription is provided annually by my brother Jack who worked at the Smithsonian for years (whereas I only worked there two very interesting summers).

The December issue has a feature article by novelist Paul Theroux about raising geese, [ he calls himself a gozzard or goose herder] and premised on what I see as a very snotty critique of E. B. White, an author ten times more elegant than Theroux. It’s true that my low opinion of Theroux’s work comes partly from my father – a determined Anglophile - who disdained Theroux for writing Kingdom by the Sea as a ridiculous stunt to travel the sea coast of England. When I finally read Kingdom, I was not as disappointed as Dad has been, but I disliked others of Theroux’s works as pretentious and snobbish. After all, consider his personal website!

(In fact, I persist in pronouncing the novelist’s name as Ther-oo, to rhyme with goo, rather than as some do, Ther-Oh, because I don’t want to link the novelist with Thoreau).

Anyway, my curiosity and my ire piqued by the reference to E.B. White’s essay “The Geese” I got out my copy of Essays of E. B. White,(New York: Harper & Row, 1977. 62-68) [note that my copy is 1977 and does not have the same cover as this one pictured on Amazon] and enjoyed his nostalgic lament on the affairs of goose-dom – especially gander-dom, I should say.

White’s essays are far superior to his more widely known children’s books. In the guest journal on the desk (in this drawing) in the delightful E. B. White room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, where I spent two delightful days with a view north along the beack to the Yaquina Head lighthouse, I wrote a reference to White’s witty poem "I Paint What I See" for the New Yorker in 1933, about Diego Rivera’s mural in the RockefellerCenter building.

By the way, over this holiday I also finished reading Woolf’s The Waves, and was sorry to have it end. Rather, like the endless ocean, I would have had it continue indefinitely.

Happy reading to you all.


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