BAD BOOK, GOOD BOOK


Today I went to the library in search of information on climate science and jotted down the call numbers of several non-fiction books that will serve my purposes, but instead I decided to see how novelists are handling the looming issue of sea level rise. I wish I had stayed with my original intention. One of the two books I brought home is so hopelessly violent that I closed it before I finished the first chapter. My mind and my muscles went taught at the horrors I read. While I will at least open the other novel, I think I’d better stick with the facts in the future. Poetry can be fact.

            I dropped that novel, terrified about our future, and returned to a book I bought Monday evening at a live poetry reading at Book Bar in Denver. Unlike 417 pages of dark and violent hopelessness, Andrew Schelling’s The Facts at Dog Tank Spring is a remedy for my despair. He holds my attention not by horror but by details from a life well spent so far, killing no one on any page, although Schelling does eulogize several friends who have gone on ahead. He doesn’t ignore the dark side of life, but he doesn’t bludgeon me with it either. His poetry is balm for my illness over the bleak, dangerous future that slapped my face every few pages in a novel that will go back to the library unread and unsung.

            What’s more, Schelling signed my copy with “warm friendship.” Nice, very nice. Thanks, Book Bar and those who brought me hope in one slim volume.


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