All right. Something has to be done about this writelessness, a non-word by which I mean the state of affairs in which all the writing I do consists of terse answers to convoluted questions on online grant applications and terser yet moderately amusing Facebook status updates. OBL suspects that I don’t write here anymore because my soul has been sucked out by the devil Facebook, but perhaps the relationship goes the other way. Maybe I have embraced mini-micro-blogging because macro-blogging makes too great a demand on my depleted mental resources—depleted by relentless failure in multiple realms. But you know what? A person who does not write can’t claim the title of Writer, and in its absence I am left with titles I can’t even bear to type out loud, and if those are to be my only titles I will quickly slip into cherry red grass territory, if you know what I mean.
So an intervention is called for. Literary therapy is required. I don’t have to write about anything important. In fact, it’s better if I don’t, because matters of importance are so tangled in my head that I can’t currently tease the strands apart to express them. Or can I? Maybe I can if I get some mojo back. In the meantime, how about a little book review? That’s safe enough.
Here’s the book: The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, by Sharyn McCrumb. If you are not familiar with her work, she has written a series of novels set in the Appalachians that tell stories of the lives of the mountain people with respect and a sprinkling of mysticism. This book goes back to the Great Depression. One of McCrumb’s recurring characters, who is an elderly woman in the other books, appears in this one as a child.
A murder has been committed and a bunch of journalists, mostly from Big Cities, arrive in Podunk, Virginia to cover the case. They have disrespectful and prejudiced views of mountain people, which they spew in their stories about the trial.
Wait, I have to digress for a moment. A few weeks ago my family went to a concert performed by the Seattle Women’s Chorus, which consists mostly of gay women. The theme of the concert was families, all kinds of families, all of which are okay. They’re all okay! Any family in which people love and care for each other is okay, no matter who is in the family and what kind of sex they like and how the children were produced. All okay. Did you get the message there? All kinds of families are okay. Really, they are all very okay. That’s what the concert was like. In Seattle, of all places, where a bunch of liberals were spending their entertainment dollars on a gay concert and obviously already believed that all kinds of families were absolutely, definitely okay. The Chorus preached to the choir for three tortuous hours.
That’s what McCrumb’s book was like, too, except that instead of okay families the message that repeated again and again and a-freaking-gain was that mountain people are not dumb yokels like them big city reporters make ‘em out to be. The story, which involves a woman who may have bashed her father’s head in and a brother who seems to be looking out for his sister’s best interests but maybe isn’t (I guess that kind of family might be deemed “not okay”), would have been entertaining had it not been overshadowed by the droning, ever-repeating message about the non-yokelness of the residents of Appalachia.
So don’t bother with the book and skip the SWC at least until the Christmas show, when they will sing the same mantra with a holiday twist. And if anyone still comes by to read this dusty, neglected blog, please encourage me to write more because the alternative is Not. Good.