Going to Ground: Simple Life on a Georgia Pondby Amy Blackmarr
In going to Ground, Blackmarr mixes vignettes from her past with reflections on the present to describe the surprising generosity of strangers; life without hot water; her two dogs, one a "lush" and the other a cavebuilder; visits from a jack-o'-lantern-eyed alligator ("To tell the truth, people don't seem to have sympathy for the alligator"); pheasant-hunting with… See more details below
In going to Ground, Blackmarr mixes vignettes from her past with reflections on the present to describe the surprising generosity of strangers; life without hot water; her two dogs, one a "lush" and the other a cavebuilder; visits from a jack-o'-lantern-eyed alligator ("To tell the truth, people don't seem to have sympathy for the alligator"); pheasant-hunting with her third ex-husband; her days as a two-stepping cowgirl ("Like a fisherman wears lures on his cap, so does a cowgirl wear hatpins"); a scare by the "toilet-bowl water moccasin"; the significance of owning twenty-six pairs of shoes; a real-life wagon train; and the life and death of her spunky grandmother, MaRe. Always alert to unexpected associations, Blackmarr attends to moments, people, and the natural world with an acute focus that is unabashedly truthful.
In Walden, the prototypical "pond tale," Thoreau says he went to the woods so as not to discover, when he came to die, that he had not lived. Blackmarr decided several years ago to quit her Kansas business and move back home to southern Georgia and a fishing-cabin retreat, with two dogs for constant companions; and in a deliberate echo of Thoreau, she says she did not want to wake up regretting, 30 years later, that she had not done the things she'd always wanted to doin particular, to write and to be near her grandmother, MaRe. Blackmarr's metaphor of discovery and of connectedness to her grandfather's landher "ground"is evoked throughout, but most literally in scenes that frame her story: first, her watching her "hard-bodied little gray dog" Max digging a cave in the dirt outside her cabin, and later, her dog Queenie's death and burial. Though not a traditional believer, she nevertheless does occasionally go looking "for God sign, like a good tracker." The author, who herself describes this work as "less narrative than scene, less word than imageless explanation than experience," is only selectively present in this memoir: as writer, hunter, arrowhead collector. That Blackmarr currently lives in a treehouse indicates she has not yet finished her quest.
But when she describes her cabin's view of light glittering on the water, "catching on the wet backs of turtles and in the feathery tops of the pale, tall grasses around the banks," and says "I am my grandmother's voice," readers are likely to hear this as a welcome invocation, and to fall effortlessly under the entrancing spell of her words.
- Penguin Group (USA)
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 7.34(h) x 0.52(d)
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