Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Month: October 2013

The Care and Keeping of Books

Daina, age 10, reading to Atticus at 3 months old.

If there were a priest of all things literary, I would owe him a couple confessions.


I read and finished exactly one Nicholas Sparks book before throwing it across the room as hard as I could. It was The Notebook, a movie I’d loved and cried over. I’d braced my mind to be blown because the books are always better than the movies. While it’s possible my bar was set too high, it’s also entirely possible that he wasn’t even trying. I think I said that aloud when I got about halfway through the book, “You’re not even trying, are you?” It was just domino line up after domino line up—a suspense machine. We all have our readerly biases, and my criteria for a good read occurs on the sentence level. Ideally, I want to be falling over myself with jealousy for the perfect order and selection of words. Anyone can follow the recipe for apple pie, but if you haven’t picked the right apples, there is really no reason to bother with the pie. Nicholas Sparks is fantastic at following pie recipes, but he’ll put any apple in them, worms and all.

It would be no surprise to me if Nicholas Sparks loved George Bernard Shaw, playwright of Major Barbara, my most hated book of all time. This leads to my second confession: In my younger, edgier years, I finished Major Barbara and promptly tore out every page, singly crumpled up each one, and threw it into the trash can. It was just terrible. Wish it on no one.

These confessions are my full disclosure in the off chance that any of you knows the stories already and wants to call shenanigans on my argument about the care and keeping of books. These were two extreme examples of my violence against the written word, and for these instances, however deserved, I am sorry.


Here are ten book rules we follow in the Price house. For my autumnal assignment today, Daina selected “skeletons.” Because she said the word, and whenever Daina says anything, books come to mind, my thoughts went straight to spines and the eternal question of “To break or not break?” Here are our thoughts on the subject of spines and a few other things.

PRICE BOOK RULES

10. JACKETS
Books wear their jackets. Period.

9. e-BOOKS
No e-book purchases to fill in the gaps in hardback collections.  

8. MOVIE COVERS
            Never buy a book with a picture on the cover from the movie adaptation.

7. ANNOTATIONS
Always write in books. Use a fine-tipped ballpoint pen, never a pencil which will fade or a fountain or felt pen that will bleed.

6. THE FOOT RULE
New books must be stored at least one foot off the ground out of Oscar’s “welcome” range. Oscar was our dog who used to christen everything new in our house. Oscar moved to Michigan, but we still kept the rule.

5. HOARDING
            We’ve found book hoarding to be overlooked by most psychologists as a 
            socially acceptable habit of the literati. And thank God.

4. PINTEREST
No Pinterest crafts that desecrate books for the sake of a half-wit fad may be done in the house. I consider an occasional project with pages of an old, non-literary book acceptable (fanned pages turned into hanging decorations or a L-shaped bracket drilled into an old, non-literary book to create floating bookshelves for less), but my husband cringes at these ideas. They’re quasi-sacred here. We’re like a book sanctuary.

3. DOG-EARS
We don’t dog-ear pages. Anything can be a bookmark, so it’s not possible to be without one. My favorite are Taco Bell receipts, but I’ve used gum wrappers and napkins before. Daina dog-ears books on occasion but believes that it’s only acceptable to do so for a two-day period. I asked her what happens after the two-day period, and her response was that “The Lord of Books will come and eat you.”

2. SPINES
This is the most impassioned debate in our house. I break in a book by breaking the spine, but this makes my husband and daughter cringe. If I really want to cuddle up with it and get close and personal, I bend it right in two so that I can wrap the front around the back and focus on just one page at a time. Based on this sole act, Daina calls me a “book murderer”—the scariest thing of all.  

But here is our most important rule.



1. IF IT’S THERE, IT’S THERE TO SHARE.


The Price Lending Library is open always. See a book? Take a book. 

We can always buy more. And we will. 

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Three Three-sentence Conversations (October 4-6)

My daughter wanted to see three fall subjects this time around: wolves, costumes, and leaves. She actually listed a fourth—pie—but I told her we’d already covered pie. She loves a good pie poem. And, yes, I’ve written others before.


one: WOLVES and the Dinner Date Cut Short
“I don’t believe in wolves,” he said.
Werewolves, you mean?” she said.
“What’s the difference?” he said.


two: COSTUMES and Sounds of Words
“You have to say it PE-can!” June said. Hand held out to the side her brother wasn’t on, fist clenched, she was done bargaining. “Say it right or starve, Andy. I ain’t messin’ around.”


three: LEAVES and Pages that Fall
            “What is it about fall that makes you get all nerdy about this reading stuff?”
“Something about the connection between leaves and pages, I think. They both turn, you know.”




She says tomorrow’s topic is skeletons. Until then…

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“Pumpkins and Patches” (October 3)

When Daina texted me my autumnal poem topic for the day, I was reminded about how twelve year olds live unimpressed. 


I hope you enjoy this poem. It caught me by surprise on my first reading. It could be a little moving if you’re feeling it. And here I was, thinking you might get a light, rhyming pumpkin poem out of me. It turns out pumpkins are deep. Who knew? 


Pumpkins and Patches 

Each October
middle schools hang in hallways
the false symmetry and even complexions
of orange orbs presented as pumpkins.

Topped with a stump of a stem,
a natural lattice for its pigtail vine,
a 45-degree angled leaf leans toward heaven,
its teleological nod.

Not one knows every pumpkin
has its ugly side

where it sat without sun
so that the rest of it
could grow.

Pumpkins aren’t so far from people.

Some of us sit among the pigs.

We wear patched pants,
our ugly sides to the earth.


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“The Caterpillar and the Horse” (October 2)

My darling Daina has assigned me the subject of pie for today’s autumnal post. Not having much to say about pie, I asked whether she was sure. Her response was, “It’s done, Mom. It’s pie.” So, here is a pie poem.

10.2 The Caterpillar and the Horse

“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”
                                                      –Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

When a woman erects a zebra tent
on the first real day of “Florida fall,”
when the weather plays nicer
than her children often do—
when she showers then sweats,
feels her work heels drive
through soggy grass clippings
into a crack in the concrete
where only weeds live,

she expects

someone

to play

in it.

With one daughter too tall,
the other too small,
she looks for Alice desserts,
a Caterpillar mushroom in the shape of a pie
on dirty countertops and stained tablecloths,
near dusty bookshelves by fingerprint windows

to the sound of the perfect-sized son
screaming

because he cannot ride
the horse.

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“Why I Say Autumn” (October 1)

Each day in October, I will be writing a poem on the subjects related to all-things-autumn. Daina has already given me the list of leaves, Halloween decorations, House of Hades (a fantastic Percy Jackson book that’s coming out in seven days–but who’s counting? My daughter, that’s who!), costumes, and trick-or-treating with friends and family. Daina is a self-replenishing bucket of ideas, so I will consult her each day for my writing “assignment.” 

Speaking of assignments, who doesn’t love a good fall writing prompt–especially those of my writerly friends who are practically freebasing pumpkin spice since it dipped below eighty degrees here in Florida? 


Write with me! Post with me! Let’s get our fall on!


Why I Say Autumn

When I say fall,the word semester followswith white rosters lined with spaces for lettersof names I do not know.

Fall comes to close the summer,marking my days donewith its bright red pen,punctuating my pages with percentage signs,which indicate how likely I amto understand what I did wrongand how likely I am to care.

Where autumn puts pumpkins,
fall fills halls with students
who fill the halls in return with unripe words 
like syllabus and registrar
that stick like tahini to their teeth.



Some cannot remember my name,
despite hard efforts.
Others make none.


Too many fall days smell of cold coffee
forgotten in microwaves.
They sound like book sales reps
and emails from IT experts with big words
I don’t want to learn to say.


Fall is a fluorescent flicker,
a ticket under a wiper for a sundried staff sticker.
Every day in October ends up
its own annual cliché.


Autumn gives me a pass on all of fall.
It is rice-paper leaves dried by air
that hits my ears like an Avett Brothers’ song.


I don’t even want to talk about it.


It’s better than any of my poems
will ever be.

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