A Book Review

Recently, I had the pleasure, and the honor, of reading and reviewing author Allison Green’s memoir, The Ghosts Who Travel With Me: A Literary Pilgrimage Through Brautigan’s America, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Green’s pilgrimage is a poignant and beautifully written story, told in short chapters, about the many ghosts in her life—family, ancestors, Idaho, her adolescent self, and especially, her relationship to Richard Brautigan (best known for his novel Trout Fishing in America), the hippie era author she adored as a teen and young adult. As a grown woman, however,  returning to his work, she discovers something about Brautigan that causes her to reevaluate the origin of her admiration for him and the America about which he wrote. Grappling with her revelation, she sets out to trace Brautigan’s footsteps through Idaho (her ancestral home and setting of Trout), and the end result is this insightful, sensitive, humorous and poetic memoir.

Which comes highly recommended from me to you.

You can read the full review HERE.

And go buy Green’s book HERE!

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On Germination

Of his younger sister’s (Wilhemien) literary work—a piece on plants and rain—Vincent van Gogh wrote:

 You can see yourself that in nature many flowers are trampled underfoot, frozen or scorched, and for that matter not every grain of corn returns to the soil after ripening to germinate and grow into a blade of corn – indeed, that by far the greatest number of grains of corn do not develop fully but end up at the mill – isn’t this so? To compare human beings with grains of corn, now – in every human being who is healthy and natural there is a germinating force, just as there is in a grain of corn. And so natural life is germination. What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us.

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What the germinating force is to the grain, love is to us. I was thinking about germinating forces earlier this morning, as I peered into the brittle head—still bulging with seed—of this sunflower. Here, stubbornly anchored to the ground, you can see the force of which van Gogh wrote. The floret has gone to seed—either clinging to the disc, taken by the sparrow, or fallen to the ground (where, perhaps, taken by the goose), in which case it may end there, in some animalia digestive system. (Which is what happened this past spring at Franklin Farm, when the seeds were not buried deeply enough, and the birds, big and small, gobbled up the grain.)

On the other hand, should the seed make its way safely underground, we may see the sunflower, reincarnate, late summer next year. Overground, germinant, gold and giving.

What love is to us. Yes.