Introduction, and Excerpt from The Dogs of Babel
I love words to the extent that I want to share excerpts with you...sentences, paragraphs, or pages. I will post at least once each month, a passage that moves me to such a degree that I feel others will be moved as well. I first posted on my crafting blog, Woof Nanny, and the following is copied from those pages as an introduction here.
I spent several hours this afternoon, not able to pry myself away from the pages of The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst. I do have to remember to be thankful for the fact that I have so much freedom in my life, that I am able to choose to lie in bed and finish a novel if I so desire. My friend Jen wrote to me to say she reads this blog to "live vicariously through you". That comment gave me pause. Jen, wife of a doctor, stay-at-home mom to the perfect boy and perfect girl; Jen living the American dream that I wish I were living. Funny how we all wish to step into one another's backyard every now and again. But I digress. I just need to remember to be thankful for what I have, versus continually longing for what I do not. So, back to the original intention of this post, in regard to what subjects my mind has lingered upon today. The book is a marvel of words that add texture to my own at this moment. I adore how words are put together. My books are dog-eared (I so want to add an extra 'r' there, as I want to place an additional 'l' in traveling. I must read too many books from the UK), with sentences underlined, and notes in the margins. I cannot help myself--for this reason I rarely am able to read library books. I find myself needing to pick up a pen...so I go out and buy the book instead. My friend debs, who has been a writer by profession for over 20 years, told me today that she likes writing well enough, but doesn't value words the way I do. I am the more natural writer, she said, for it creases my soul in an unusal way. Too bad my career path has yet to stray in that direction. But I digress again. Anyway, one of the characters in The Dogs of Babel is an artist--the maker of exquisite masks. She is called upon to make a death mask as a mourning memorial to a 19 year old cancer victim. She makes a mold of the actual face, but the realism stops there. She paints the mask not with the features of the deceased, but with the markers of her soul--the essence of this individual. She paints scattered wildflowers, blowing in the breeze. Only when one looks closely, the bump of a nose is still present...the indentation of eyes, the roundness of mouth. The mask is so beautiful, that she is called upon to make several more. Her husband describes one of the masks, saying, "For an old woman who had been a seamstress, a patchwork design covering the entire face, each square painted in a texture of a fabric from a loved article of clothing--here a wedding gown, there a baby blanket. And always, in every mask, the face hidden beneath the painting, adding its poignant topography." That moves me somehow. Maybe because mourning articles fascinate me so. Maybe because memory art moves also. To capture an essence of someone. What would my own mask look like? I think I may add a regular feature to this blog, of favorite excerpts from books.
Post script: I have considered the appearance of my own mask. I think it would be collaged in bits of handmade and recycled paper, scraps of fabric, and a mixture of various found objects like diary keys and pieces of wire. It would be embellished with charms, stones, and broken seashells. Across the eyes would be cursive writing, perhaps random words without meaning.
Labels: Book Review