January 20, 2012

Both Pools

Thought that I'd been on a boat
'Til that single word you wrote
That single word it landlocked me
Turned the masts to cedar trees
And the winds to gravel roads

It is no secret to people who know me, that I can be weirdly stubborn and obstinate about a great variety of things, only to become obsessive with the very things I was apathetic about a short time before. Let me give you an example- My friend Ari over at We Buy Balloons, was in love with Josh Ritter. he implored me to check him out, and although I had heard and loved Long Shadows from Bored to Death, and in spite the fact that I had downloaded several of Ritter's CD's I was still lukewarm about his music.

Every few weeks Ari would ask if I had listened to this or that song and I would reply with an tepid shrug of my shoulders. Somehow, somewhere Bryan Jackson sent me a cover of Girl In The World, and my curiosity was ignited. I have another terrible habit of needing more than one person in my life to love something before I get into it. This drives my wife crazy, but where was I....oh yeah my sudden obsession with Josh Ritter.

I began to listen to everything. His songs were like photographs, no like films. Stories? Plays? They were simply perfect snippets of art that told tender tales of being human. I became lost in the simple yet beautiful harmonies. I was  engrossed with the prose of his lyrics.

That was several months ago, and since that day, Josh Ritter is played in my house at least once a day. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that he has written his first novel Bright's Passage. It was difficult for me to find it here in Jakarta, so I bought a ciy when I was in NYC. I just finished it today.

Bright's Passage is a simple, well written, and perfectly paced debut novel, by a talented songwriter and observant storyteller. Reading like many of Ritter's songs, it is a story of survival in the face of war and destruction. A master of obscure and bizarre situations, Ritter places us in the hills of Virgina at the end of WWI. A small band of shallow characters are brought to life by his lyrical prose. You can read a much better review and synopsis here.

I simply wanted to take this time, use this space to share this delightful little book. This is the kind of novel that makes us aspiring writers think, "I can do that." But on closer inspection, one realizes that it reads so easily, because it is so carefully written. With an astoundingly economical prose and poetic flair, Ritter does what we all want to do- he turns a simple song into a timeless novel. If you don't know Josh Ritter as writer or songwriter, I suggest you jump in both pools.

Pretty cool to see Ritter himself respond on Twitter:

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