Friday, March 11, 2005

Long Walk to Forever

I was packing up a couple of boxes of paperbacks last night because we have bought a four seater couch that means I have to sacrifice a corner bookshelf in the front room.

Perhaps, more accurately I should explain that my four year old was throwing the books to me and I was packing them away, because Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House fell open at "Long Walk to Forever".

"Could you come for a walk?" he said. He was a shy person, even with Catharine. He covered his shyness by speaking absently, as though what really concerned him were far away--as though he were a secret agent pausing briefly on a mission between beautiful, distant, and sinister points. This manner of speaking had always been Newt's style, even in matters that concerned him desperately.

"A walk?" said Catharine.
"One foot in front of the other," said Newt, "through leaves, over bridges--"

What a great writer he was and is when on song.

I remember a devastating image from a piece he wrote about a PEN sponsored visit to Biafra when he looks down and finds that an emaciated child has attached him or herself to each of his fingers as he walks through a camp.

He really is a canary in the coal mine.

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