Archive for June, 2019

bookmark: the spectator bird

The Spectator Bird – by Wallace Stegner

I really enjoyed this book. It was like one old man talking talking to another – the author to me. I fully sympathized with the story. There’s not much good to say about getting older, and Mr. Stegner had a handle on that. I’m not sure if this book would appeal to a younger person. You really almost have to have experienced some of the things he writes about to fully appreciate it.

But more than some grouchy old man complaining about aging, the story is about the constant search for ones self. Sometimes it feels like you are going through life like some “spectator bird,” watching your life pass buy like a remote observer rather than as a direct participant. Feeling like so much of your life has been lived by default instead of by purpose and choice. Constantly searching for the meaning of your life, and then having to come to grips with the likelihood that you will never find that meaning.

Truth be told, the meaning has been there all along, but for some people it is extremely difficult to see. Even catching a glimpse of that meaning from time to time does not satisfy that desire, that longing, to feel like you have had a purpose in this world, other than the responsibilities you have taken on in the course of living. Perhaps they are one and the same, but I can relate to the author’s feeling that someplace, sometime, one will discover the meaning of ones life, and that the search will likely never end.

Finished 6/29/19

bookmark: but enough about me

But Enough About Me: A Memoir – by Burt Reynolds with Jon Winokur

Sometimes I wonder why I like reading biographies and autobiographies. Perhaps it is just human nature since so many others have the same proclivity. The thing that interests me, though, is not the sensational. You won’t find me reading some tell-all book written to satisfy the author’s need to flame everyone in his/her life. What I like is the insight into the humanity of the subject, what the basic nature of that person was, or is.

Burt Reynolds was one of those people who always seemed to be having a good time. In fact, he usually was, though he went through the usual sort of problems that actors seem to encounter – bad agents, bad money managers and management, bad relationships. But what is interesting is the perspective he is able to give it all at this point in his life, which was actually quite near the end. That is the time when the value of every occurrence in a life is able to be compared to the value of the whole.

If you read this book do yourself a favor and watch Burt’s last movie, The Last Movie Star. While not a biographical movie, it feels like it may not be far off and can give a little insight into how an aging movie star can feel.

This was a good book to read in bits and snatches as it is organized that way. If you were, or are, a fan of Burt’s, it gives a good look into his life and is worth reading.

Finished 6/15/19

The Oxford Book of American Short Stories – Edited by Joyce Carol Oates

This was an excellent selection of American short stories. A few I had read before, but for the most part the authors were unknown to me. Ever actually read the story of “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving? It’s in the book, as well as stories by Poe, Hemingway, Twain and other well-known authors. But the best part was finding historically important authors I had never heard of before.

There were a few stories that did nothing for me, but so what? It’s a short story. I can waste the time. Some stories had more impact than others. Some seemed more personally relevant. Some were interesting because they were about things beyond my personal experience. This is what makes a collection like this worth reading, and it is. It’s not a short book, but it is obviously easily read in bits and pieces.

Finished 6/14/19