I begin my days in a pink haze of sunrise and heavy humidity and stillness – except that Baby Daisy is not still, she has woken me and we are outside because it is time to get the day going and she is full of the joy of the day already.
Yesterday afternoon I noticed a “palmetto bug” creeping from my dining room towards the kitchen. Filled with horror, I chased it into the sunroom and poisoned it with Wasp spray.
Worries poison my nights. But the pink haze of sunrise colors my days…
I’ve missed talking with you about life and books! Today I’ll begin a Sunday/Wednesday Bacon schedule and look forward to reconnecting with you, Bacon friends!
On Wednesday, I’m happy to bring you a piece by Beth Alexander on Me and Patsy, Kickin up Dust.
The “No Rules” book club just finished reading Circe, by Madeline Miller, and to a person, the group found it engaging and enchanting. I’ll run a feature on that soon. (Okay I’m super embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t quite get to it before book club, but our outdoor, socially distant conversation motivated me tremendously.)
Edwin Wilson has kindly agreed to answer interview questions about his memoir, Magic Time.
Patricia Eastwood and Sara Bhatia will do a joint interview about Curtis Sittenfeld’s Rodham.
And of course I’ll continue with some “Life in the Time of Corona” interviews.
This morning I’d love to tell you about Silence, by Shusaku Endo, which my couples book club recently discussed.
Widely considered the masterpiece of Japanese author Shusaku Endo, Silence imagines the lives of two Catholic priests who traveled from Portugal to Japan in the early seventeenth century. It’s a slim work, based on historical events, but it doesn’t read like most historical fiction. It is hypnotic, almost poetic, in rhythm; it is repetitive in places, intentionally – almost like a sermon; it is horrifying, and hopeful, in turn. It raises questions of faith and the purpose of missionary work and the limits of human endurance under torture. It explores Japanese culture – and Catholicism – of the time. It considers the seeming silence of God in the presence of extreme human suffering. It dreams of both Jesus and Judas.
In the preface, the translator provides some historical context. A Basque missionary brought Christianity to Japan in 1549, and over the next few decades the Christian community grew to some 150,000. In 1579, a brilliant and ambitious Italian priest led a massive effort to build seminaries, and through the early years of the 1600’s Christian missionaries and Japanese clergy occupied positions of privilege and influence in society. The organized Christian community grew to at least 300,000.
And yet, with leadership changes in Japan and increased trade with the English and Dutch, the tide shifted. An edict of expulsion was issued in 1614, and Japanese leaders spent the better part of the next thirty years torturing and executing Christians – especially the missionaries among them. Christianity all but disappeared in Japan for centuries.
Shusaku Endo, an award-winning novelist, was born in Tokyo in 1923, raised in Kobe by his mother and an aunt, and converted to Catholicism at age 11. Silence was originally published in 1969, and Martin Scorsese made it into a feature film in 2016. I found the film quite faithful to the book.
The pink haze dissipated, the poisonous worries retreated – this book and film caught my mind and heart – sharply – and held them fast.