It rained all day. A perfect day for reading books and drinking tea. By the opened window I listened to the rain and struggled with a dozen pages of one of Thomas Carlyle’s lectures. That afternoon I turned to Epstein for consolation. If he found it difficult to read Carlyle’s prose about the French Revolution, I may be in good company. Not that I should be compared to such a man of letters.
Many years ago I aspired to a career in letters. A local independent newspaper published my work. Then a few national and international literary journals picked up my work. Surrounded by writers who supported me and encouraged me to continue along that path, I composed a series of narrative non-fiction pieces. Sketches for a full-length book. Searching through this site’s archives, ten years ago (almost to the date), I teased these efforts. Writers had reviewed the three or four of the chapter sketches. An editor was sought to help finish the process. And publications were selected for submission to publication. And then. . .
These stories remain unpublished to date.
NOTES: *The title of the post is a line from “In Rainy September” by Robert Bly.
Apparently I was so tired that I forgot to click the button marked “publish” on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at 9:48PM.
In this scene, the main character stands on a busy sidewalk beside a slender tree. He looks down at the scattered ruins of a summer of expectations. “How should I have prepared for this?” he asks himself. “What do I do now?” He feels relief and that surprises him. This is a new beginning. A fresh start. Unlimited opportunities. However, this is also the first time in his adult life he is unemployed. And without an automobile. Adjusting the strap of his laptop attache, he walks up Lexington Avenue to catch a bus. The feeling of relief is quickly replaced with a deep, consuming despair. In this scene, the crowds of tourists walking down College Street talk loudly and trample the gathering leaves under their shoes as the main character weaves his way toward Pritchard Park. He doesn’t hear them, only hears the sound of his own boots on the sidewalk and wonders where will he be a year from now.
There’s a story behind this image that wants to be told. It’s a reminder that seasons and people transition. Loyalty tested against the panes of transparency. Everything goes sideways when turning the corner and down the street of uncertainty, when faith and doubt pressed up against a steamy autumn window and all they see is loss. It’s a story still worrying the line. Still blue enough, blue enough, still bluer than Ma Rainey singing “Bo Weevil Blues.” It’s a story where the clarinet sweeps back and forth, sweeps low and easy, sweeps in a song looking for a place to stay, sweeps in a song saying “don’t sing them blues no more…” Don’t tell me ’bout the job you lost. Don’t tell me ’bout your broken down car. Ma Rainey, Ma Rainey, “don’t sing them blues no more…”
A very observant reader and friend asked of this week’s post: “Is this story related to the teases from other photos?” Yes, they are all teasers for scenes from a narrative non-fiction book I’m writing. Some of the chapters have either been sent or are in the process of being sent to journals and magazines for publication. I am waiting on editors at this phase in the process.
Just received this email from Malaprop’s regarding tonight’s, June 1st, reading at 7 p.m.
Triple reading event, featuring new poems by Sebastian Matthews, and selected poems from his most recent collection: MIRACLE DAY: MID-LIFE SONGS; a reading by Sybil Baker from her novel INTO THIS WORLD; and a reading by novelist Chris Hale from her just-completed memoir, LINE OF SIGHT.
I’m very excited to learn of Sebastian Matthews’s new collection of poems.