The dawn sky is streaked with bands of lemon and midnight blue, as if someone has been finger-painting behind the vast silhouettes of the maples. It is a lonely sight, even among the crowded, jumbled roofs of a city neighborhood. The sky, like the sea, resists the tamer.
Yesterday I worked on my collaboration poem, and I think it's mostly where it needs to be, unless my painter-partner has some suggestions for changes. I also finished my reading vacation (all of the Little House books in a rapid row), and now I have turned again to Lampedusa's The Leopard. Like McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, like Mathiessen's Shadow Country, The Leopard is a book in which the landscape is the greatest character. I've never been to any of these places--the Great Plains, Florida's Thousand Islands, Sicily--and I don't read these books because I necessarily hope to go there. It's how the novelist makes such intense use of place: that's what draws me.
It's interesting/disturbing/tiresome that these three books are by white men. Of course Wilder's books also make rich use of landscape, but the novels are constrained by authorial prissiness and a child audience. Cather is a better example of a woman writer who treats landscape as an active character. Louise Erdrich, to a degree, can also do it. (I'm not including those books that primarily use landscape as a decorative backdrop or as a palimpsest for human emotions.) I've read a fair number of Native American novels and memoirs lately, and landscape, as such, is not always particularly key to their work. Not that it should be; I'm just noticing. There are lots of writers whose creations arise from people and their stuff--both physical stuff and dramatic stuff. Shakespeare, for instance. It's a perfectly good way to think about art.
In any case, I do love The Leopard, and I know I've said so on this blog many times. It's a novel I should write about, and maybe someday I will.