A lost child, saved in an inconceivable way
May 15, 2018 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Time and again, the bear they had sworn would rip us limb from limb was begrudgingly allowed a place at the table, and behold, it used a fork and a spoon. The natural laws we have believed in and taught our children have sometimes been found to be not natural laws at all, but rather fearsome constructs of our own making, undermined by the evidence. And among those mistakes there is this: All of the promises of politicians, generals, madmen, and crusaders that war can create peace have yet to be borne out.
Small Wonder: a timeless essay on fear, war and hope, by Barbara Kingsolver.
posted by Rumple (10 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
She reaches in and twists my heart.
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I forgot that people were upset at her skepticism of the invasion of Afghanistan. I hope she knows she was fucking right.
posted by atoxyl at 8:59 PM on May 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Marvelous writing. Thanks for posting. This bit here
The feeling I dread most is not fear but despair — the dim, oppressive sense that the more things change, the more they stay the same; that each of us with a frozen heart “like an old-stone savage armed” will continue to move in darkness, lifting boulders, patrolling the firmaments of divisive anger. I do not go gentle into that particular night; I burn and rave against the dying of all hope. I concede that there is mounting evil in this world, and that some hearts are so hardened already that they cannot possibly be appeased.
is also my fear. Sometimes it feels like the shittiest people will win by sheer force of shittiness.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:38 PM on May 15, 2018 [11 favorites]

Good bit of writing, that.
posted by dazed_one at 4:14 AM on May 16, 2018

I used to have 2 books of Barbara Kingsolver's essays. I lent them to a friend and she lent them to a friend... maybe I should buy myself new ones.

A number of quotes from them have stuck with me over the years (it's been a decade), and 2 especially come to mind again and again since 2016:

Confronted with the knowledge of dozens of apparently random disasters each day, what can a human heart do but slam its doors? No mortal can grieve that much.

When it seems difficult merely to survive and be happy about it, the condition of my thought tastes as simple as this: let me be a good animal today.

Anyway, thank you for sharing this piece.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:35 AM on May 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I awoke this morning, had anyone told me that my appreciation of and admiration for Barbara Kingsolver was going to enlarged, enriched, heightened while also deepened, I would perhaps have nodded sagely, agreeably while chuckling inwardly -- how could anyone raise my admiration for this great artist? Ludicrous.

Of course, it turns out that it's Kingsolver herself that did so.

I didn't know that was possible, actually. Her words, her facility with words, she just gets right to it, cuts straight through to my heart. I am going to re-read the essay -- I feel honor bound to do so, because why would I refuse to give myself this gift? She is an author that calls to be read over and again; I expect that I've read The Lacuna five times -- it's a powerhouse story, and she paints her characters with unbelievable depth in that book, but it's also one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. And I have been a reader all of my life.

Reading Kingsolver is to me like going to a fine arts museum -- again and again I find that I must stop when confronted with the beauty in those halls; likewise, again and again I find that I must stop when confronted with the beauty in her writing. She is a master.

In reading her entry on Wikipedia I came across an opinion piece published October 14 2001 in The Los Angeles Times: No Glory in Unjust War on the Weak. Short but direct, to the point.

Thank you for linking this piece here, OP. You've made my evening
posted by dancestoblue at 6:07 PM on May 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is so amazing. Thank you.
posted by seyirci at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2018

What a fantastic piece of writing. Thank you very much for posting it. If one were to start reading her books, where should begin?
posted by Cobalt at 11:25 AM on May 17, 2018

Cobalt: The Poisonwood Bible would be the cliche but probably consensual answer. I did not care for The Bean Tree it Pugs in Heaven. I did like Prodigal Summer quite a bit. I’ve heard good things of Lacuna but have not read. She also has several collections of essays.

So for me, Poisonwood Bible or Prodigal Summer would be my recommendations.
posted by Rumple at 10:45 PM on May 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pugs in Heaven This typo made me laugh! Sounds like a calendar theme rather than a Kingsolver book.

Small Wonder, one of her essay collections, is my favorite work of hers. For fiction, The Lacuna is masterful. I liked Prodigal Summer -I felt at home in its country environment - but it does get preachy at times.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:04 AM on May 23, 2018

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