in this penultimate week of august I’m reading (among other things) *One Man’s Meat*, a series of essays by E.B. White.
the essays are lovely to read—unsentimental almost to the point of being banal about their subjects: farm/country life in Maine and World War II. of course, EBW plays with this tone of banality with his wit and writer’s precision. I’m interested in the way the war creeps into these essays on “country life,” and have been considering this tactic of writing of war—or rather, of not NOT writing of war. (!?) these essays bring up for me the concept of a writer’s responsibilities…
I’d not call these essays keen portrayals of *Life at War*. …I find they do serve, however, as lucid portraits of the *banality* of life and war during this time. by not focusing on war itself, but rather on the ways it bleeds into everyday life (and, importantly, by introducing these ruptures without fanfare—in short, by treating air raids with the same measured witticism as his wife’s struggles to identify songbirds), White produces windows into life of a country at war which are apt, I’d suggest, precisely because of the liminal role war plays in the essays.
anyway, they are nice essays to read in august in maine, I am finding, on the beach or in bed listening to cricket friction. the end of august! in every corner, it seems, pale moths blindly pattering out their lives in the daylight…the morning sun is starting to slant, but we’re still swimming in the sea.
school is starting soon, though this time—the first time—without me.