The author's writing style is intimate and more poetry than prose to me. I found particularly delightful his perceptive descriptions of the character's relationship with his environment, and his willingness to be in the moment.
Walking Through Brambles by G. W. Latimer was a relaxing escape, and so much funnier than I expected. From his observations about yellow cat and fatherhood to his day to day life at the library, his observations and dry sense of humor had me laughing several times. I can see how many might miss the humor, but it's there and so rewarding. This book reads more like a diary or journal than a novel, but I took to reading it at night before bed. The authors' voice is calming--a perfect end to a busy day in this noisy and often stressful world.
This is definitely a different style and not for everyone- it's more like reading a beautiful journal someone has left behind. The descriptions are beautiful and exquisite. It's a place I'd want to visit and a life I'd enjoy living! I liked this book & I would read more from the writer in the future.
This narrative reads more like light-hearted poetry. The graceful descriptions of space, time, light, dust, foliage, elements, pets and people were all masterfully written. I found myself wanting to be in the small Oregon coastal town, among its quirky inhabitants.
Rain comes to Valencia like typhus: wind, thunder, rain—predictable and ruthless. And once it passes, recovery is slow and the entire valley, exhausted. Valencia, however, never floods—nothing drowns, nothing is fully immersed. The earth is marked just a little, scratched just a bit immediately after the fall. And from the runoff, the bleeding, the landscape is re-tissued as though a top layer of skin has molted—nature's facelift. Our little Garden of Eden once again is as it was in the beginning before the fall, before Gethsemane, before the atonement when rain was nothing more than absorbed, when rain did nothing more than fall.
Delicate flora has washed away. Colors not diluted by the master artist now appear freshly painted, glossy in the aftermath. Ferns are now a deeper green, their jagged edges sharper than ever. Nature's confetti lays everywhere. Fallout consisting of anonymous blossoms, buds and leaves still hold their colors but have somehow lost their virtue in the storm. Pathways, fountains, and ponds display a similar complexion, distinction muted by the downpour. Nature celebrated a new year it seems, or maybe a wedding—a consummation by the look of things. The afterthoughts can be uncomfortably familiar, or unfamiliar. Is it worth the mess, one wonders?
Yellow Cat weathered the storm, perched on the piano bench. The sound of my playing, comparable to thunder, must transfix her, purring as usual, paws and chin resting upon my lap. Unfortunately, I practice only as often as it rains here. The piano, more than anything, serves merely as a reminder of music. Where the mission choir is an ensemble of cathedral acoustics, gothic accompaniment and the interplay of audience and angels; my piano, on the other hand, is the solo. It is only me. It is more sound than music, more cliché than opus, more heart than voice. But Yellow Cat lays still and listens; and maybe in the studio upstairs, my music is heard as well.
Although the rain dilutes the valley's colors, it enriches the atmosphere with earthy aromas as hearty as smoke. After the cloudburst, the fertile air draws all life into the open. Noses swelling, windward, townsfolk ponder the familiarity in the air that only comes after rain. The green cologne of the river, woods, and sea plus everything sweet that perished in the storm attack the senses like a crusade of meadows. Topsoil smells up the air with that rich, gritty decay of earth. The breeze brings a spring-cleaned energy comparable to that of April's last layer of snow sinking into the piney soil, cleaning the earth's pores before trickling into pools and streams across the valley.
In his collection of personal essays entitled, Billy Watson’s Croker Sack, Franklin Burroughs utilizes the genre’s most prevalent rhetorical strategy of identification through story telling. Unlike the formal essay that may appeal to an audience’s specific interests and curiosities, Burroughs’ personal essays often appeal to a general audience’s ambivalence between right and wrong and the environment in which their daily routines are perceived, rationalized and accepted. He envelopes his readers in a milieu of personal secrets, selective histories and keen perceptions of everyday life. Through his candid literary demeanor and his intimate conversational rhetoric, he positions himself as the everyman. Burroughs does not assert or praise his credibility; but instead, he reminds his readers of their universal kinship and the experiences common to everyone. He attempts to communicate a reasoning that will casually blend the entire human race into one heterogenous family. Mainly through stories and anecdotes--the genre’s primary rhetorical devise--Burroughs identifies with a general mass audience through a reverent conversation of life’s minor generalities and a candid disclosure of his own failures and emotional fragility.
According to Holman and Harmon’s A Handbook to Literature, the personal or informal essay is characterized by “the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner)...unconventionality or novelty of theme...and freedom from stiffness and affectation” (Holman 193). In his forward to The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate writes that “the conversational dynamic--the desire for contact--is ingrained in the form, and serves to establish a quick emotional intimacy with the audience” (Lopate 2). These observations are evidenced throughout Burroughs’ collection as he discusses life’s personality from the perspective of the provincial New Englander. His collection consists of five essays all evaluating and reacting to the complexities of life and death in modern but rural America. He describes a local dimension of life that is free of the world’s abrasive competitiveness, and he involves his readers in his world--a separate reality where he can confess his own fears and inadequacies.
Recollections of boyhood and descriptions of the landscape are inherent in Burroughs’ essays. The innocence of childhood and nature “undefiled” is discussed in a homey, unpretentious rhetoric that appeals to the simple, unrefined, child-like qualities of his audience. He elaborates on the hillside’s weeds and grasses and in a neighborly editorial on the weather, he discusses nature’s routines and his own droll attitudes of home. “Crackers limp as old lettuce,” an expression bordering cliché is placidly expressed by a narrative voice which at times can be equally cliché or banal--simple, unashamed but heroically sincere (Burroughs 5). It is easy for one to imagine the author as a quiet, non-threatening figure draped in loose fitting overalls, standing upon the seat of his tractor, gazing at the valley before him as he describes “our fields,” in the following detail:
The stitchwort, vetch, buttercup, bedstraw and blue-eyed grass...thriving amid the adversities of soil and climate, their inconspicuous beauty seems reflective of rural New England, and it is pleasing to learn that people here once found more than aesthetic solace in them (Burroughs 9).
He further appeals to his and his audience’s commonness in describing his “Southern boyhood” that was filled with “that strange Wordsworthian hunger for landscape” (Burroughs 10). Certainly by the end of the tenth page, readers can identify with Burroughs’ natural, uncomplicated self-portrait.
Throughout most of his book, Burroughs presents himself (as Edmund Waller may have noted 350 years ago) as the self-sequestered man. He is alone and removed from the rest of the world where he can observe man and nature unnoticed. And it is during this seclusion when Burroughs receives these random and quixotic perceptions and insights into everyday life. Lopate again in his forward to The Art of the Personal Essay informs us of the essayist as one who “claims unique access to the small, humble things in life” (Lopate 5). Burroughs certainly attempts to portray this affection early in his collection and it is evidenced throughout the entire book. Lopate also notes that “this taste for the miniature becomes a strong suit of the form: the ability to turn anything close at hand...into a grand meditation adventure” (Lopate 9).
Burroughs is very much attuned to the quiet, ambient side of life, and although he doesn’t embellish as much as other narrative writers may, he more closely scrutinizes the miniature and discusses what most of us would consider unnecessary. This is particularly clear as he describes his activities on the opening day of duck hunting season.
The day faded on into ordinariness; it would regain a little of its special quality only after supper, when I would go out into the barn, pluck the teal and dress them, watched by Mink and Mrs. Pino, our two semi-domestic cats. Then would clean the gun, swabbing out the barrels until they shone like mirrors when I held them to the light and looked through them. Would carefully save a few of the flank feathers and a wing for trout flies; would reward the cats with a visceral morsel; would wrap and label the ducks and put them in the freezer. That would be it, an annual observance completed (Burroughs 103).
By omitting the subject of the final four phrases, Burroughs omits himself to suggest that even he is perhaps too obvious to mention and too ordinary to even care. This is a clear rhetorical strategy that reiterates the event’s repetitive calculation. It also appears from this final sentence that even the author, caught up in the rush of tradition and local patriotism, honors an observance of which he is morally uncertain. He therefore confronts, with some reservation, the moral challenges and social obligations that most people will at some time encounter. But his stories, more than anything, present the author as a regular-kind-of-guy. He is simple, honest and kind. The natural intimacy of his narrative is powerfully inviting to the individual who also perceives himself as a regular-kind-of-guy.
Burroughs is fascinated with milieu and the pace at which he moves his thoughts within it. His rambling stream of consciousness is not specifically a rhetorical treatment but is certainly a rhetorical style that allows him to ponder his own perceptions and color them according to his current mood or voice. Each essay within the collection relates significantly to this milieu and to the author’s place within the natural world. This is particularly evident in the following passage from Burroughs’ third essay.
It always seemed to be somewhere in the middle of a summer afternoon. Floors being cooler than rugs or beds. I would lie on the floor in front of an oscillating fan, its breeze passing over me, going away, hesitating at the end of its arc, returning (Burroughs 47).
Again, Burroughs’ story appeals to our sense of calm-ness--a stagnation in time where he pauses to study the rhythm of an arcing fan to a degree that permits him to reflect on the transience and immediate purpose of his own life. His description of the plain implies that the author is never beyond the common and ordinary, that he is merely a random creation of nature and a victim of its indifference. But his narrative also suggests a balance and proportion for a life that is consumed with business and worldly responsibilities. Consider how his audience might relate or identify with the following passage.
So I would relapse into the Upper Peninsula, making it my refuge for another empty summer afternoon, while the fan hummed and the cicadas outside buzzed their parched, whetstone song, lapping and overlapping itself in slow waves, until at last dusk fell, a faint coolness seeped out from the grass, and the toads and crickets took over (Burroughs 48).
Even if his reader never makes it to the mountains in Wyoming or the backwoods of Kentucky, he has no trouble envisioning the comfort and peace of the places Burroughs describes.
Aside from these hum-drum normalities of life, Burroughs admits his failures and accepts his inadequacies as another facet of life and another dimension of nature. His life and reputation is circumspect. He is bound to provincial exclusion. His rhetoric is plaintive and describes a man bullied by ambition and made common by circumstance and history. This attitude develops as his past is remembered while fishing one morning in a small New England pond.
I was bookish and introverted as a boy, lived more in theory than among facts, and always waited on a time when my circumstances would at last conform to what was prescribed by authors, and deliver me from an identity which, whether measured against my own standards, or against the modest and sensible expectations of my parents, was ignominious. I read all about fishing:...the throwline, the cork, and a cricket or caterpillar on the hook came to seem too much like what I feared my life would be--something local, undistinguished, and limited, beneath the notice of literature and without shape or certification (Burroughs 54-55).
While we are meant to understand Burroughs’ disillusionment with life, we are also intended to relate to his queerish boyhood in order to find a perspective for our queerish natures. Lopate explains it this way. “The trick is to realize that one is not important, except insofar as one’s example can serve to elucidate a more widespread human trait and make readers feel a little less lonely and freakish” (Lopate 6).
Further insight into Burroughs’ audience can be seen in how the author represents himself and in his subtextual description of the reader with whom he attempts to identify. In the previous citation, Burroughs confesses a fear in becoming or remaining “local, undistinguished and limited.” But a more attentive reading suggests that Burroughs, in his effort to identify, may actually alienate or distance himself from his general audience by suggesting that they too are “local, undistinguished and limited.” If we initially accept Burroughs’ appeal to an unsophisticated and general mass audience, we must also accept his reader’s general and unsophisticated identitiy within his respective community. Consider for a moment how the local school principal may perceive himself within his own community and also consider how the local minister, sales clerk or secretary may identify with Burroughs’ “uncertified” classification. Is it unfair for us to assume that his readers have similar perspectives of their own provincial limitations and inadequacies that Burroughs infers?
Perhaps the most accurate analysis of Burroughs’ audience lies in the nature of his confessions itself. Perhaps these personal confessions are intended not exclusively for a general readership but for Burroughs himself. For most personal essayists, writing is therapy--purging, through confession and self-confrontation, the loneliness and despair that they often see in themselves. In this respect, it is reasonable to believe that Burroughs is still reaching within himself for a deeper understanding of the local and undistinguished persona that his essays display. It is equally reasonable to suspect that, Billy Watson’s Croker Sack is a testament of the author’s attempt to identify with himself and not solely with an unsophisticated, unassuming and undistinguished regional audience. Burroughs himself may indeed be the collection’s primary audience.
Burroughs’ rhetoric is free of fancy terms, specialized jargon and gothic analogies and metaphors. Rather his anecdotes and stories become his predominant rhetorical pulse. Within these stories he appeals to his audience’s romantic moods and is able to use their sensitivities to justify their telling. In some instances, his milieu of melancholy and nostalgia is so morose that one reads his confessions with a measure of pity and responsibility for the author’s bad luck and failure to succeed. Perhaps Burroughs is only interested in communicating what Gore Vidal has said about narrative literature. “The true confessors have been aware that not only is life mostly failure, but that in one’s failure or pettiness or wrongness exists the living drama of the self” (Lopate 9).
At times, Burroughs’ dependence upon his readers’ sympathy is excessive. After all, as Donald Harwood puts it, “we all have our little sorrows” and certainly Burroughs, like the rest of us, must deal with his personal traumas alone (Harwood 33). But as Lopate further explains, the personal essayist “is not necessarily out to win the audience’s unqualified love but to present the complportrait of a human being” (Lopate 8). And so Burroughs’ stories reflect the complexity of the human character, and the rhetorical treatment he uses to identify with his audience, mainly gentle first-person story telling, reflects the complexities of the poetical character--something that even the most common among us hopes to possess.
Burroughs’ text is rich with simple and plain observations made extraordinary only by the care of their telling. The author elevates his subject through his personal rhetoric and his intuitive vision of the common man. And the common man who becomes acquainted with Billy Watson’s Croker Sack doesn’t necessarily escape in a rhetoric of elevated proportions but is shown how his ordinariness is made grand in the perspective that Burroughs gives it. Irish essayist Hubert Butler explains it this way: “I am more inclined to apologize for writing about great events, which touched me not at all, than for tracing again the tiny snail track which I made myself” (Lopate 10). Great or insignificant events in themselves cannot dictate the types of rhetorical treatments that a writer may employ in achieving his or her purposes. But in the genre of the personal narrative, the primary rhetorical emphasis is placed on the writer’s ability to identify with his audience. And according to Burroughs’ style and subject matter, one cannot overlook his perspective of the little, ubiquitous happenings that many of us no longer notice. For this reason, Burroughs identifies easily with his readers, and his story-telling style assures him of a certain reader loyalty and trust that other writers may not enjoy.
The bay breezes through my room,
and a pen rolls across the bureau
so, so slowly
while a note glides lightly, gently
to the foot of my bed.
Green springs trickle through the bamboo
knocking against the porch
as though it were wrapped
in a pillow.
The bright night illuminates;
and just beyond the tide’s reaching touch
the dunes bow softly into the hillside.
jasmine and willow sway above the pond
where a turtle—
high priest of this garden,
rests like me on a ripple
a meditation, a prayer
a thought not born into speech.
A toad bellows low in the reed beds,
fireflies linger in the air;
and a dandelion ascends
as some do in September
rising into the dark light.
The fat yellow moon pulls his eyelids down,
the warm silver ghost cups me in her hands,
bliss dripping like dew from her fingers
and I succumb to her relentless serenity—
the unsparing comfort of sedation.
Like footsteps on the bare floor,
the clock taps out a beat—
the pulse of nature,
of some divinity
nesting somewhere near;
a mass for the living
blessed in its subjectivity,
mercy and compassion.
And almost like a memory
from a terrace down the hill,
a spanish guitar floats its voices here
unplugged from the dissonance of age
coming humbly, joyfully home—
all of life's perfections
distilled to its finest hour
The wind loosens the drapes
unfolding like wings in the doorway
as the restful turtle hums
and a leaf drifts by
so, so slowly...
I wake up
in the dark house
and without a bump
I find the chair by the window.
Warm rain on the glass
distant train whistle
fields of it.
Nature not asleep;
a tiny spider dashes from beneath the sink
as if he were pulled by a string
in the natural light from which I see no source
and I look away to the farm.
My oak chair creaks
and my feet on the bare tile
can feel the cool crumbs of dust
this quiet night.
Unlit but warm
cooler floor than bone
old oak chair but earnest
sleeping neighbors unaware of evening?s other shadow.
And the warmer air of harvest
begins to taste
or sound like willow or silk
on summer's rainy window.
Ambience like old pajamas
just light enough for sleeping;
a breeze lifts the window veils
and I look away to the farm.
I remember the way I came
walkingstick in hand
booted loosely, lazely
dewdamp grass touching my knees
smelling like jam.
The whole valley was green
preening birds preparing
quick and subtle movements
like wind through a pipe
unseen whistle singing
from baby thrush and wren.
Cold river rocks
vanishing steam from slower currents
cloudy like tea or musk
dicentra at my fingers
sun behind and moist air
like blackberry on my mouth.
all of dawn remembering
the way I came;
I smell the path fresh every morning
always remembering the way.
I am a bubble
I am in a bubble--
a consciousness (aquiring qualia)
rising to the top
of the sea of humanity;
A lifetime of ages pass
atmosphere at last
and I am released into the light
I am a wave
I am in the wave--
a consciousness (qualia aquired)
I am everywhere
at peace with the gods and angels.
After the rain
and under the yellow clouds
I rose to the words
whistling between the leaves of the
and aging blossoms of apples
I came to my home against
where sun lit waterfalls filled
the streams below;
I heard still
as a little boy in his father's hat
and I climbed again
and strode the neighbor's ground
with a lonely pride that only
The summer sounds were brimming
the purpling blooms were
waving to the sea,
and cartooned pastels
robed the grasses
bending in the tide of twilight,
and I rose once more to
the whispering words
a watery font
with the summer scent
Waiting for the late sounds
to blow the leaves and
porch bells slow
I listen to the play of
a far away hound
and my feet crunching stones
as I move;
Yet then will I sit
and feel the evening speak
what the angels sing to God.
Often the drip
falls with the canon--
Largo for the evening
plays the melody away
to the new-made night;
and the sticks that bow
from the hard trunk
make me dance and drift
on the warm brook,
hoping you'll find me
as your voice
and your wish
wakes the music in
to never sink alone,
and I can dance
to the canon's pace
like falling sticks on
a sterile stream.
The early morning waves
lit by the moon a blue-grey hue
glows the gentle sea
as it rolls upon the sand
I stand on.
The air that sounds small
upon the waving grass
moves through my clothes,
and on my face it stills
till my breath returns again
to the sea
the blowing scent of wasted youth
to dive at the foam in the waves
that pound the quiet eve's crabs
as they soak in the wash and loam,
and I breathe in the night moon
that lights me with its white;
too soft to touch
and too brief to kiss
it sends the wind through my hair
like the fingers of a patient girl
and whisps to me the scent of salt and musk
to savor the sand I still on
as the waterwind
and the sweet shoregrass
walks my wish to the deep again.
Popping beached jellyfish
was the favorite summertime game
longer sticks served best
and quicker strides before and the sting
were useful in bragging,
too eager to work or worry
we rode the waves
till our bellies scraped the sand,
and we raced the crabs
back into the sea,
saltwater always filled my mouth
and I'd quit playing
for a while
until another jellyfish
beached himself beside me.
Its texture is compelling
like gathered frost along
the brush bottoms at dawn,
it makes me cool
and I breathe like a dragon
I wake with its alarm so early
and touch the tent top
that its beads may run
down my finger
wanting me to drink,
everything looks new and growing
in the haze and mist
as I walk upon green needles
and mossy smells
and compel with its feeling
my hands and mouth to touch.
And then the pond will warm
and morning's dust will float
beneath the still cold mist
and the smells like summer's dawn
will raise its breath to the
trees that shade you from
to sleep or run
until you wake or rest
and summer's first light
is gone to older kin;
and then the pool will boil
and nature's love for nature
will feed herself on her
as the grasses dry in
and the now noon steam
will make clouds high
to fly with the birds and dust
for a new place to wake
and another you
Strong music plays little for me
in my snoring chair
thick will pillow
heavy with boring stuff:
writing of treason that stains the soul
and warns the wet heart
I stick with my pen;
watery songs encourage the discontent
to cheer at the sky
like a freshly spoiled bride,
"Long live the king!
Kill the umpire!
Hail Mary full of it!"
Offend to be offended
slap the child's hand
and wash his dirty tongue;
and I'll burn the bones in the bedroom
while the nigger next door
trims his desperate snuff
and my memory sings from the alley,
"Don't spill the blood of Gethsemane,
the carpet's still too white."
Founded in 2013, DaDa is the leading online education platform based in China. Since its inception, DaDa’s mission is to be the best online international school in China through one-on-one student-teacher pairing, world-class teaching content, and industry-leading two-way interactive learning platform.
To ensure every child’s happiness while learning
To provide a myriad of teaching materials that will inspire children to learn
To open their mind to our world
To provide the necessary tools that children will need in order to unlock their full potential in life.
I'm just an amateur with an expensive camera. Yeah, I'm that guy.
Have a job opportunity you want to discuss? Or maybe ideas about creating your own site? Maybe a redesign? Some new functionality? Or something new altogether? I'd love to help you spruce up, or create from scratch, a web identity and presence that tells the world who you really are.
Since much of my work is pro-bono, please consider helping me offset production/hosting costs by donating whatever pocket change you can spare.