Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Glorious Repast

Yesterday, my copy of Charles de Lint’s latest chapbook, “Yellow Dog,” arrived. Glorious! I did something I almost never do—I sat down on the couch as soon as I was in the door and had fed the cat, and I read the whole thing. No dinner preparations, no checking e-mail, nothing until the story was finished. When I was done, I almost didn’t need dinner, I was that satisfied.

This is one of CdL’s desert stories. They are just as powerful and entrancing and moving as his stories of greener places, and whenever I read one, I find myself wanting to visit the desert. Arizona. New Mexico. Dry, bright, harsh places, beautiful in an entirely different way from the mountains and trees here in Portland or the lakeside woods and fields back home in Chicago. I read these desert stories, the stories of canyons and cliffs and hawks and coyotes, and I can almost smell it. I can nearly feel the sand gritting underfoot, see the endless blue sky, smell the baked earth. And I want to go.

Even more importantly I think, at least in the grand scheme of my life, is that I want to write like that. I not only want people to be able to see and smell and feel my settings, I want them to long for those places the way you long for home when you’ve been gone too long.

That’s the best storytelling to me. The kind that leaves you satisfied, filled with words and images, and yet still longing for more. The kind that is so beautiful it leaves an ache inside you that is half joy and half hunger for something you can’t name.

I don’t know if I will reach that pinnacle. I do know that I’ll try. And I do know that I’m lucky that I at least know what it is I’m aiming for.

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