Subject: Life. The subject here is Life. Where could I even start? Do we begin in the grass? Should I get lost somewhere in the concept of “Grass”? Ok:
“Grass” is a word that encompasses something like 1,000 different kinds of plants. But we point at the ground and define what grows there as that thick carpet wash of green – usually “Kelly” or “Emerald”. Simple. Sometimes with the contrasting lawn-mower stripes: the soft silverfish underbellies of the shorn blades pushed over, rows of “Peridot” next to “Kelly”. But if you walk somewhere out in a field – in the wild, a “meadow” – and look, you see that “Grass” is marbled. A swirl of blown glass. Indescribable chaos of textures. 1,000 different shades of green. 1,000 different kinds of things that grow close-clipped down there under our feet. But it’s all just “Grass” in English. That’s jaw-dropping. That’s Life.
We do this with the word “Love”, as well.
Lord. That’s more Life – that’s too much Life. That is how you spend 12 hours or more writing the longest, most absurd letter of your life to someone. And your head feels like a water balloon and your body feels like all the nerve endings are connected to cattle prods and you can’t speak because when you open your mouth, the language fails and you just sit there and make sounds in the shape of the things that are filling you up. You hope the words falling out of your hands are right. Because in a moment of Life like that, you are nothing more than a bundle of cells, firing haphazardly, pin-balling, stark-raving nuts rattling, barking wild dog amoeba heart. Alive.
Language should make us all into wild dogs, I believe. Life should make us all into water balloon heads, I believe. Combine the two. Breathe. That’s Life, too. That’s very necessary. That’s all I will do for “Subject: Life” today.
And I pass the baton to Jill McCorkle for the evening. Here it is: Join novelist Jill McCorkle at Carmichael’s Bookstore as she presents her latest release, Life After Life, tonight, Wednesday, May 29th, for a reading and signing that embraces exactly what it is we are always trying to do: Life.
Her first book after seventeen years of literary silence, Jill McCorkle’s Life After Life returns readers to the southern style and distinctive wit indicative of past works. Following the lives of residents and staff at the Pine Haven Estates retirement home, McCorkle draws a sharp picture of humanity, taking the pulse of Life by revealing its end. The tenth book in McCorkle’s repertoire, copies of Life After Life are available in hardcover for $24.95. A story of stories.
We will all be a collection of stories by the time we fall apart. And they will compile us then by what happened when we did moments of Life and sat there with the jaw-dropped and the heart full of wild dog cells. And hopefully the words were right. Hopefully the story gets told.
Carmichael’s Bookstore has two area locations: 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Avenue. For more information, visit the event page or call the Frankfort Avenue store at (502) 896-6950.
Image: Courtesy of Carmichael’s Bookstore website www.carmichaelsbookstore.com