A Country Pop Anecdote

As a result, books line almost all walls of the bungalow, books of all sizes and types, books on nearly every subject under the sun and not a few under the moon—everything from mass-market paperback reprints from the Doc Savage pulp magazine bought new for 35 cents three decades ago to Professor Otto Pfleiderer’s Primitive Christianity in four blue hardbound volumes. Some of these books can even be seen despite related magazines, comics, newspapers, and miscellaneous files also cluttering the bungalow; some of them, furthermore, I’ve even read.

 

 

12/2003

The frightful connectivity of this world can sometimes blindside even the cagiest among us.

That fact I discovered recently while puttering in my study. Like the rest of my South Side bungalow, that chamber’s fallen to ruin of a particularly bibliomaniacal sort. In addition to covering country music for the Playback St. Louis Sports Desk, you see, I pass a great deal of time collecting books. As a result, books line almost all walls of the bungalow, books of all sizes and types, books on nearly every subject under the sun and not a few under the moon—everything from mass-market paperback reprints from the Doc Savage pulp magazine bought new for 35 cents three decades ago to Professor Otto Pfleiderer’s Primitive Christianity in four blue hardbound volumes. Some of these books can even be seen despite related magazines, comics, newspapers, and miscellaneous files also cluttering the bungalow; some of them, furthermore, I’ve even read.

In any event, in amassing that personal library, I’ve belonged from time to time to countless books clubs, and a few days ago, I sat in the study scanning the latest solicitation from one of those clubs, the Readers’ Subscription. That Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, organization prides itself on having been founded in 1951 by W.H. Auden, Jacques Barzun, and Lionel Trilling and offers “Books That Matter”—in short, specializing in just the sort of egghead volumes I’m jeered for cherishing by various of my friends, some of whom have never encountered a video game on which they haven’t squandered hour upon hour of their lives.

The aforementioned solicitation featured two such egghead volumes of especial interest to me: Rhyme’s Reason by John Hollander and Poetic Meter & Poetic Form by Paul Fussell. I recognized Hollander’s name as that of the editor of American Wits, an anthology of light verse published by the Library of America’s American Poets Project, my subscription copy of which the U.S.P.S. had delivered mere days before. (Here, undoubtedly, certain readers will begin to suspect why various of my friends jeer me.)

Over the second title, though, my brow furrowed: I knew that I owned—and, in fact, that I’d read—a volume analyzing poetic meter and poetic form, but I couldn’t recall if Fussell had written it. Now, for convenience, I shelve references of that sort along the north wall of the study, and a few paces took me from the shambles of my desk to the reference of which I was thinking. An encyclopedia of forms ranging from the couplet (in five flavors) through oddities like the Welsh cywydd deuair hyrion to blank verse, it bore the title of Patterns of Poetry and issued from Louisiana State University Press in Baton Rouge in 1986. However and moreover, it had been written not by Fussell but by Miller Williams—and as I registered the name of the author of the volume of which I’d been thinking, the volume I’d studied enough to write some passable sonnets and a villanelle, the frightful connectivity of this world jolted me for just an instant. Williams, you see, has a daughter whose name I’d never forget, whose work would never be mistaken for that of another here at the Sports Desk.

She’s called Lucinda.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply