Thursday, March 20, 2014

Now Reading

Right now I can't get enough Beth Kephart. I loved her essay "The Line is White and it is Narrow" in Slate's Mothers Who Think collection so much, so I don't know why it's taken me years and years since I read that to pick up one of her books.

It all started with her recently published memoir craft book, Handling the Truth, which I picked up from the book table at residency in January. I was reading that one night in the library and it reminded me that I had been meaning to read A Slant of Sun for a long time, so I went to look for that book, only the library I was at didn't have it. Instead they had Seeing Past Z, which is a collection of essays--meditations, almost--on books and reading and writing with her child. I know that doesn't sound like enough to sustain a full length book, but really it was and Kephart's voice is so lovely, so endearing and honest and earnest, that you just want to sit and read whatever she has to say on anything. And it also reminded me of some essays on reading to and with children that I've been mulling over for some time. 

I have a huge stack of books in the hall at the top of our stairs, many of which I haven't read yet, and I've been trying to put my shoulder to the plow to get through them (my plan is one a week--alternating fiction and nonfiction--last week I read Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, which was divine), but I was overcome with the urge to order A Slant of Sun from the library and have been eating it up all week--it's about Kephart's journey through raising a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. And again, it's her voice, her lovely descriptions of space and scene and weather, that make you want to never put it down. I also love how much adoration of her child comes across on the page, yet I don't find it "sentimental" (then again, I'm not a man prone to using that word as an insult in the literary realm).

As you can see in the corner of the picture, M is now reading the Jurassic Park books, which I guess means he's officially a grownup (shh, don't tell him that). After I finished reading Harry Potter to E and Z (finally!), we read The Enormous Egg, and then How to Train Your Dragon. Z took the latter to bed with him and finished it on his own when we were 3/4 of the way through. We started on the second book, but he, and then E, stole it and read it on their own. Now Z is laboring through The Lord of the Rings (can you believe that this is the child who could barely read a Dr. Seuss book a year-and-a-half ago??) and E just switched from all Big Nate all the time to National Geographic kids (back issues of the magazine and an old Almanac). I'm afraid I won't be reading them bedtime stories for that much longer. I'm not quite ready for that.


  1. Housekeeping was a beautifully written book. I'm impressed at your reading schedule -- one hefty book a week!

  2. Just read this and wanted to share it with you, given your thesis and all. -R

  3. Thanks, Rachel! I love this: “The point is that the outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.”

  4. I love Beth so much! I have had her YA novels on my list for a long time. I'm looking toward summer to dive into a couple of them. But love her work and have taught it for years….

  5. I need to look her up!

    Yeah - we have not "officially" laid bedtime stories to rest, but we have in reality - she reads to herself and I read to myself next to her. Sigh....


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