Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Local Wonders
by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser’s warm and gentle memoir—personal and filled with anecdotal stories, brings both the past and present into focus. Local Wonders made me want to visit Nebraska, see the places mentioned, and walk through farm fields.

Kooser is a master of metaphor—and the images he chooses are alive and informed—as well as intimate.

Here he describes a limestone quarry two miles from his house:
…"I like to go over there and sit for awhile in the dusty lap of time...I like the exposed layers of rock with their reliable order, thousands of years stacked on shelves like old court ledgers, the oldest on the bottom…seashells stuck between pages like bookmarks making passages in time.”

Kooser savors items his family used—the mere mention of his mother’s cutting board unleashes stories about his mother. He quotes Proust who has “…the taste of biscuit … take him back in time.”

His character sketches may be short, but the particular details give dimension to the figures. I think I’d recognize some of the people if I met them in person.

And since he’s sixty when he begins writing Local Wonders he does reflect on time and age.

We are always trying to find footing on the damp edge of the future, but to most of us, the dry sand of the past feels firmer under our sneakers.”

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