Thursday, May 25, 2006

I wouldn't say I was hesitant to read Stephen Wright's Amalgamation Polka, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Boston comic, Stephen Wright. Yes, I kept hearing the monotone Wright and his dry, "Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?" But I overcame my strange momentary apprehension and picked up Amalgamation at the library last week. Good move. Each sentence is sewn together with beautiful words, seemingly plucked from the sky or picked out of a thesaurus that I've never seen. The storytelling is old story telling, with a modern sense of the world.

Last night, my dears as often occurs in someone of my advanced years, I experienced some difficulty sleeping. The mind, you should understand, possesses a will of its own that not even prayer can always correct. So, as is my custom on such occasions, I sat for many an hour in my rocker in the parlor window, watching the dead wandering like fireflies among the stones of the cemetery across the valley. They can't sleep either, poor things. They're here with us, you know, every minute of every hour. No, no, don't bother twisting your necks about. You cannot see them from where you are sitting. If you could step outside yourselves even for a moment and view the world through your spiritual eye, then all would be instantly apprehensible. This is heaven, children. We have, each blessed one of us, already been translated. Our earthly senses are like blinders beguiling us from the truth.

Is Ma'am L'Orange speaking to us or the kids, her students? It comes through the page as if we were the ones being preached to by an old, somewhat daft lady. Though she was out of her senses, I'm sure we've all been told worse stories than her beautiful elegy.

From now on, it's breath Stephen Wright, author, in and Stephen Wright, comedian, out.

9 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

That's a beautiful quotation!

M. Barresi said...

She was a bit out of her head, but that piece was beautiful.

Stefanie said...

heh. I always think if Stpehen Wright the comic too. I've got the book on my shelf. Must get around to reading it soon.

sfp said...

And then his parents found out and he didn't have to go to school any more!

So far Amalgamation Polka is my favorite book of the year. I tried to read another Wright immediately afterwards, though, and couldn't get into it. It's always a bad idea for me to try a second book by an author when really all I want is for the first book not to have ended.

So glad you're enjoying it, Mike.

M. Barresi said...

Ok, so I'm smitten with Stephen Wright's Amalgamation Polka. I finished it in about two days and like SFP said, I wish it didn't have to end. I may post tonight about it, but more likely, I'll be posting Sunday.

Certainly one of the best of the year so far.

Danielle said...

This one is on my TBR pile, and I think I will have to move it up the stack. I am not usually one for Civil War era stories, but this one sounded really good.

M. Barresi said...

Danielle, I enjoy books that take place in the 1860s, but this one was especially brilliant. And it transcends the era.

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