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About Applegater. (Jacksonville, OR) 2008-current | View Entire Issue (May 1, 2021)
4 Spring 2021 Applegater
New York, 2020
The All in All
by John Sack
BY CHRISTIN LORE WEBER
Just now You Are a tawny tassel
On a reed of ornamental grass
That I see waving
To the south.
And when I face the north,
You Are a fledgling
Exploring the outdoor Adirondack—
No larger than a sparrow,
Though already fully crested,
And then You Are the tripod cat
Hopping to the slider
While harboring a fantasy
Of captured baby jay.
And now You Are the Spirit
Splaying wide my heart,
Urging every cell to dance,
And clap its hands,
Leaving me to marvel
How You Are
The All in All.
John and his wife (Applegater book reviewer Christin Lore Weber) hermit and write
near Buncom on Sterling Creek Road. Have a submission for Poetry Corner, either by
an Applegate resident or about the Applegate? Email it to Applegater poetry editor, Paul
Tipton, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices of the Applegate
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Voices of the Applegate is still on hold.
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If things change during the next few months,
we will certainly let you know.
When this book came in the mail from
my dear friend Kath, I anticipated a good
read. She had given no clue regarding it,
but I was pretty sure I’d seen it as one of
the top titles of the winter season on the
readers’ go-to internet site, literaryhub.
com. Anyway, Kath would never suggest
any book but the best. I turned it over to
read the back of the dust jacket. Words
like “astonished, gripping, haunting,
beauty, tension, restraint, pitch-perfect”
leapt out at me. Then Erin Morgenstern’s
line: “Precisely the sort of book that I love
wordlessly handing to someone so they
can have the pleasure of uncovering its
secrets for themselves.” Ah! Ergo: Kath’s
lack of clues.
I opened it and read the first two pages.
Wow! Then I disturbed my husband, John,
who was engrossed in his own book. “Just
listen to this!” At first I only intended to
read a couple of paragraphs but couldn’t
stop and read the first section—short,
only two pages, but hey. I couldn’t make
“I’m reminded of Jorge Borges,” I told
him. “'The Labyrinth.'”
“Teresa of Avila,” he ventured.
“I can see that. Hints of both. But
different. I already like the narrator—the
way he notices everything so precisely.”
“How do you know it’s a ‘he’?”
I smirked. He grinned. We both went
back to reading.
After an hour I began to understand
that while I felt eager to review this book,
it would be quite difficult without spoiling
it for you. I wanted you to be as amazed as
I was by the strangeness of it, as tantalized
by the world that pulled me deeper and
deeper into its halls and vestibules. It was
eerily like a mystery, but unlike any that
I’d read or seen on PBS. And what was
to be solved? Or found? Or discovered?
I texted Kath. All she would say was,
“It’s a magnificent act of imagination.”
Those vestibules and halls, and now I was
caught in them. When I needed to leave
the book to fix a meal or watch the news or
pay a bill or any of the other ills or fortunes
this flesh is heir to, I kept scrambling
to get back into that other world—the
one Susanna Clarke had conjured and
put between the covers of this book. It
haunted and transported me. It terrified
and seduced me.
What follows is a bit of Clarke’s
description close to the novel’s beginning.
I’m hoping to share some little part of the
experience of reading Piranesi without
giving any spoilers:
I am determined to explore as much of
the World as I can in my lifetime. . . I have
explored the Drowned Halls where the Dark
Waters are carpeted with white water lilies.
I have seen the Derelict Halls of the East
where Ceilings, Floors—sometimes even
Walls!—have collapsed and the dimness is
split by shafts of grey Light.
In all these places I have stood in Doorways
and looked ahead. I have never seen any
indication that the World was coming to an
End, but only the regular progression of Halls
and Passageways into the Far Distance. (p.5)
Opening the pages of this novel, you
might wonder, “Where exactly am I?” And
then the question could arise, “…and who
is Piranesi?” Settle in. This is your chance
to become a sleuth, an archeologist, a
student of architecture in Venice or in
Rome, an interpreter of myths, maybe a
Jungian analyst. It wouldn’t hurt to search
for “Piranesi” on Wikipedia. (That didn’t
occur to me until I’d finished reading the
entire book.) I don’t think the encyclopedic
references would spoil the read; they might
even deepen the mystery.
Christin Lore Weber
We hope you will all stay healthy and
hopefully we’ll see you soon.
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