This Week, Diane Is Reading...
The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year, by Margaret Renkl
Thanks to Diane Joy Charney, herself an author (Letters to Men of Letters) who taught French and writing at Yale for 33 years, for her guest post this week. Want to share your own current read for this column on an upcoming Wednesday? I’ll be immersed in Demon Copperhead for several weeks, so let me know if you’d like to give it a go!
Will I ever be able to stop talking about Margaret Renkl? Her first book, Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss landed on my list of “The Best Offbeat Memoirs.” Her second, Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South was #1 on my “3 favorite reads in 2023” for the reading site Shepherd.
Even though I can read Renkl’s New York Times column every Monday, I counted the minutes until I could get her newest book, The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year, which I have just finished reading and will likely want to be rereading for many years to come. Here, as she takes us through the seasons, we take heart from the ways she shows us “how it feels to be part of something larger, something timeless, a world that reaches beyond me, and includes me, too.”
I have a new category inspired by Renkl: Writers that make me weep, but always in a very good way. In addition to Renkl, mine includes James Agee for a passage from his A Death in the Family and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which Ann Patchett’s new novel Tom Lake inspired me to read yet again. Essays by Patchett herself, who has called Renkl’s new book “a howling love letter to the world” have left me similarly moved, notably several from her essay collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I don’t give up my reading heart easily, but I feel forever bonded to Margaret Renkl. She is my new writing hero. My middle name is Joy, and because I believe in the joy of finding people who love the same books, I’d love to hear about yours.
What are you reading this week? And, in the spirit of Diane’s post, who would be on your list of writers to whom you are grateful for making you cry? Let us know in the comments section below!
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