Reading on a trip to Seattle

Because I had a break in work last week, I decided to make a quick trip up to Seattle for my uncle’s birthday. On Thursday, an organization he started, Voices in Wartime, had a benefit concert / auction that I helped out with, and Saturday was his birthday party where I had several interesting conversations, including one with the guy who writes speeches and articles for Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

On Saturday afternoon, we (my uncle, my brother who moved to Seattle last year, my cousin who came up from San Diego, and myself) went for a ride on my uncle’s gorgeous 1929 43-foot wooden yacht, Seven Bells. Here’s a picture from his website, and a couple from when I went out on it back in November.

Seven Bells 03

Seven Bells 01

Seven Bells 02

One of the good things about this trip was that I was able to get some reading done. On the flight up, due to weather delays and the plane being grounded in College Station, Texas for a couple hours, I arrived in Seattle five hours late, which gave me more time for reading. When my flight took off from Nashville, at six o’clock in the morning, I started the first chapter of Jeffrey Overstreet’s novel Auralia’s Colors. And as the plane began its descent into Seattle, I finished page 334, the last page.

I’d been wanting to read it ever since Jeffrey began talking about it on his blog, and after a conversation with him over coffee back in November where he told me some about the second book in the series, Cyndere’s Midnight, my interest grew. I quoted several paragraphs from Jeffrey’s first book, Through a Screen Darkly, in my recent post about a couple of my new favorite movies, and parts of Auralia’s Colors address the same topics of the power of and need for art. I hesitate a little to post these excerpts, because I don’t want people to think that these are a summation of the book or the “primary moral” that you can take away. But hopefully that will be debunked with this first excerpt and they will help peak your interest in reading it.

“What does it mean then? That thing you’ve made.” The impostor crumpled his patch, which suddenly seemed so flimsy and plain. “What is it for?”
Auralia squinted into the colors and shrugged. “Can’t say what it means. It’s not a riddle. It’s not somethin’ you solve. It’s more like a window. Look through it for a while.”

If a crowd looks upon the sea, they all see a different mass of water, for it casts color and light in all directions. In the same way, everyone saw Auralia’s colors, but each saw a differnt flourish. Auralia’s work played all the notes an orchestra can know. And more even than that. Such vision could only have come from someone who had been Elsewhere, seen Something Other, and focused all her energy into preserving the experience in a frame.
For all present in the courtyard, what was real and possible had been transformed. The eyes of their eyes were, for a moment, open to a world larger and more beautiful than they could have imagined, to the luminous presence of every man and woman, boy and girl.
Clouds moved again across the sun, and the glow of Auralia’s colors softened, like a flame drawn down into a pulsing coal.

“Took Krawg’s yellow scarf, they did. That’s why he can’t breathe.” Warney spooned the herb soup into a half shell of a tree-melon.
“Oh, bother,” said Aralia. “It was only a scarf. He can breathe just fine without it.”
Krawg opened his mouth to disagree but was seized with a fit of coughing.
Warney put the bowl on an overturned apple crate beside the bed and then opened his hand to scatter shelled nuts and grapes alongside it. “He insists, Auralia. He insists your makings are more than color and heat. They fix what’s broken.”

And, sprinkled throughout, there are great passages like this one:

“You’ll never know passion,” Radegan said softly, “if you follow the king’s orders. You can’t deny your heart anymore.”
She playfully pounded on his shoulder with her fist. “But my heart’s a mess, and yours is reckless. If we’re true to ourselves, we’re in trouble. That’s what promises are for, like the promise Corvah made me.” She looked into the shadow of the trees. “They give you something to bind yourself to, so you don’t get carried off on a whim.”

You can order Auralia’s Colors from Amazon.

In April, I am hoping to make it up to the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College. In looking over the list of announced speakers, I noticed that Jon Sweeney, author of Born Again and Again: Surprising Gifts of a Fundamentalist Childhood would be there, so I ordered his book and was able to read it on the flight back Monday, finishing the last page as the plane taxied to the terminal. It was an interesting read, another book that addresses a lot of the things I’m thinking through now. After I finish blogging through Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy for God, I’ll spend a couple posts on Born Again and Again.

What have you read recently? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions about reading more? I’m a firm believer in the old maxim that in ten years you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet (although I’d add “and the films you see”). A couple years ago, a friend told me he had a goal of reading at least 20 pages a day, which seems like a good starting place. What have you tried?

4 thoughts on “Reading on a trip to Seattle”

  1. I flew through Houston, and because of bad weather there we circled for a little while till we ran low on fuel and had to go to College Station to fill up and wait out the storm. Usually I fly through Atlanta to Seattle, but this time Houston was cheaper.

  2. I’m in the middle of Colleen McCullough’s “Antony and Cleopatra.” I’m a big fan of her writing and a sucker for good historical fiction. Other than that I’ve been on a big classics kick lately reading “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Candide,” “The Illiad,” and “The Thousand and One Nights.” I’ve got a biography of Augustus that I’m excited about starting, but I need to finish a few other books that I’ve been working on first.

  3. Cach, I really need to get around to reading some more of the classics. “The Count of Monte Cristo” is up near the top of my to-read list, as well as Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov”.

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