Remembering dear Klara

I decided I would spend a few minutes looking at the Amazon best-seller list, to study the covers of the most popular science fiction and fantasy books. I was pleased to see Hugh Howey and Andy Weir well represented, as they are heroes of the independent author movement.

I was interested in my internal reaction when I reached #24, which on this particular day was Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. On seeing the image, I first got a surge of pleasure that this magnificent 2021 novel is still on the chart. Then I flashed back to the climax of the book, and my eyes welled with the memory.

 That’s the power of a good book. The experience lingers with me, and any reminder of the book’s existence sparks a similar emotional reaction to the original. I saw Klara’s journey all over again in an instant.

When I first read it (listened to the audiobook, to be precise), I immediately put Klara and the Sun on my list of favorite books. Feeling this echo of the original thrill made me realize that Ishiguro’s book is in a very special place among my favorites. I do love Klara so.

Words meant to heal fulfill their task

This is the season of light, when the dark begins to lift before 4:30 a.m. and doesn’t encroach again until well into the evening. The summer solstice arrives in less than 100 hours.

Grief has been my constant companion of late, this sense of impending loss and all of the coulda-woulda-shoulda that accompanies it. I have had a solid and dependable companion and yes love for more time than I deserved, and I am grateful.

I reposted “A Bridge at Crossroads” for Saturday morning. It was wisdom speaking through me and, years later, to me.

Seldom is heard an encouraging word in these times, but life is very good when it is good.

As I write, I look out the window to see Summer prancing toward the backyard fence, and a rabbit scurries along the other side. The intrigued young dog scurries in tandem in a dance of — delight? frustration? sentry duty? I choose to believe delight, and perhaps a bit of longing when the rabbit disappears into the woods and she is stopped at the gate.

I paged through A Bridge at Crossroads and was soothed. “101 Encouragements,” indeed.

Sometimes I reach into my brain, looking for words that may encourage myself and others to find light and reason to hope in a dark world. And sometimes I open my own book to discover I had already found them.

“This can be — should be — a world of joy, though sometimes you have to look hard to find the reason to dance. Life is better lived when you search for the light and not the dark and when, having found the light, you dance for as long as your heart can stand the joy.

“In these pages, I hope you find what you need to hear.”

It must have occurred to me, four years ago when I compiled this book, that one day I might need to hear what I had said. One hundred and one encouragements jumped off the shelf and back into my heart.

A Bridge at Crossroads

When you are sad – for there will come a time when you are sad – remember a time you were so happy you wished this moment would last forever – because it does last forever as long as you remember.

When you are afraid – for there will come a time when you are afraid – remember a time when you felt so safe and comfortable you knew nothing could shake your world.

When you are lost – for there will come a time when you are lost – remember a time when you found a place that you never thought you’d reach and surprised yourself that you had it in you.

The lasting markers in our lives are the moments of clarity, not confusion; joy, not despair; learning, not loss.

– – – – –

(From the archives, and the opening reflection of the book of the same name.

What is all this

I have written only one song in 13 years. I wrote hundreds before I was 40.

I’d like to think I have continued to write music, though. Sometimes as I write these little reflections, it feels as if the words are singing, and it builds to a crescendo, and if there is no melody at least there are rhythms and recurring themes and all the elements that make music.

I could call it poetry, or prose poems. Poetry is a kind of music, or rap wouldn’t be music, right? (Don’t!)

Music is everywhere if you know how to listen. I didn’t say that first; I want to say Terry Pratchett wrote it, but the thought is eternal. (That’s what I was getting at when I wrote about “Revolution 9” the other day.)

I’m not sure if it matters what to call what I’m creating, except to signal to people who might like it. “Hey, folks, look here, I made this — thing.” “Come read my books of — stuff.”

I saw Logan Pearsall Smith’s wonderful book Trivia described as a book of aphorisms, but then I saw definitions of “aphorism” that suggested aphorisms are very brief and concise, more like an adage or a saying, like “Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield,” and Smith (or I) go on for more than a sentence or two.

And sometimes it’s just a fragment of a scene or a short story. The former subtitle of the blog said it as well as anything I ever came up with: “Fragments of thought and bursts of creativity.”

I suppose it does matter what it’s called if the goal is to find readers who may find it interesting or entertaining or useful. Otherwise I’m just puttering along amusing myself. Although what is any creative work if it’s not the result of the creator puttering along and amusing herself? “Once upon a time there was a funny little creature called a hobbit, and there was this ring that had magical power,” and the next thing you know …

– – – – –

By the way, you do know I’ve written books of — stuff, right?

It’s going to be all right

(Originally posted Feb. 6, 2017, this post is the linchpin of my book titled, of all things, it’s going to be all right: Reasons for hope in troubled times.)

It’s going to be all right.

Everyone seems to be so agitated. Every day in the news and social media and everywhere we turn, someone is barking out another reason to be alarmed or horrified or, at least, offended. We live in ridiculous times.

But it’s going to be all right.

I believe most of us live by an unconscious rule: We don’t initiate force against other people. We don’t intentionally hurt other people who haven’t hurt us. Most people use force only in self-defense or in reaction to force that has been initiated against them. Otherwise, it’s live and let live.

At some point it becomes clear that there’s no reason to be so agitated – the person or people we’re urged to hate is just folks like us who want to live and let live. And rather than stay agitated, we turn our attention back to the things that matter – caring for family, giving neighbors a hand, living and letting live.

There will still be professional agitators out there yelling, “Look at this outrage! Be offended!” 

But most people will live in peace.

And it will be all right.

The truth about War

Roger Mifflin, proprietor of the “Parnassus at Home” bookstore, chats with his new employee Titania about the lessons learned during the recently ended Great War, in this passage from The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (1919).

“Sometimes I thought Truth had vanished from the earth,” he cried bitterly.  “Like everything else, it was rationed by the governments. I taught myself to disbelieve half of what I read in the papers.  I saw the world clawing itself to shreds in blind rage.  I saw hardly any one brave enough to face the brutalizing absurdity as it really was, and describe it.  I saw the glutton, the idler, and the fool applauding, while brave and simple men walked in the horrors of hell.  The stay-at-home poets turned it to pretty lyrics of glory and sacrifice. Perhaps half a dozen of them have told the truth.  Have you read Sassoon?  Or Latzko’s Men in War, which was so damned true that the government suppressed it?  Humph!  Putting Truth on rations!”

He knocked out his pipe against his heel, and his blue eyes shone with a kind of desperate earnestness.

“But I tell you, the world is going to have the truth about War.  We’re going to put an end to this madness.  It’s not going to be easy.  Just now, in the intoxication of the German collapse, we’re all rejoicing in our new happiness.  I tell you, the real Peace will be a long time coming.  When you tear up all the fibres of civilization it’s a slow job to knit things together again.  You see those children going down the street to school?  Peace lies in their hands.  When they are taught in school that war is the most loathsome scourge humanity is subject to, that it smirches and fouls every lovely occupation of the mortal spirit, then there may be some hope for the future.  But I’d like to bet they are having it drilled into them that war is a glorious and noble sacrifice.

“The people who write poems about the divine frenzy of going over the top are usually those who dipped their pens a long, long way from the slimy duckboards of the trenches.  It’s funny how we hate to face realities.  I knew a commuter once who rode in town every day on the 8.13.  But he used to call it the 7.73.  He said it made him feel more virtuous.”

There was a pause, while Roger watched some belated urchins hurrying toward school.

“I think any man would be a traitor to humanity who didn’t pledge every effort of his waking life to an attempt to make war impossible in future.”

The rest of the story

Warrior Girl © Rudall30 |

There is a less self-promotional reason why, for the last week, I shared the first five chapters of Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus and then gave away the first third of the book.

I’ve mentioned that Red, my partner of more than 25 years and wife for six, was fighting for her life in a hospital 120 miles from our home. 

The fight has been intense and aggressive — and last week she decided to move into hospice care.

Words failed. My brain shut down. I posted the chapters because no other words would come, and I had these words finished, so why not? I posted them without fanfare and with no plan about what to do next.

After a hellacious ride from Milwaukee in the back of an ambulance — a vehicle not really designed for long distances — she got some rest and started to regain some of her personality, but she tires easily. And one night, out of things to say and not wanting to turn the TV on, I read the first four chapters out loud to Red.

She closed her eyes after Chapter 2, but I kept reading through the fourth chapter figuring she had fallen asleep, but after I finished reading she opened her eyes and said, “That’s really good, Warren.”

That is the only review I needed to stop hiding this light under a bushel basket. I went back to the house and designed a package for the 15 chapters that comprise the first third of the book.

I am calling it Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet, and you can have it by clicking the link.

So there’s the rest of the story. By the time the book is finished, I’ll have some sort of marketing plan in place, but this release began as a defensive gesture because I was too overwhelmed to say anything and I had nothing else to post. Life is funny that way.