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From the wooded road made of golden hemlock running past L. Frank Baum's childhood home to the lonely stump of Scout's oak in Harper Lee's Alabama, author Richard Horan gathers tree seeds—and stories—from the homes of America's most treasured authors. At once a heartfelt paean to literature and a wise, funny, and uplifting account of one man's reconnection with nature, Seeds celebrates Horan's triumphs and calamities on his quest to link trees with great writers—a delightfully original meditation on the nature of...
From the wooded road made of golden hemlock running past L. Frank Baum's childhood home to the lonely stump of Scout's oak in Harper Lee's Alabama, author Richard Horan gathers tree seeds—and stories—from the homes of America's most treasured authors. At once a heartfelt paean to literature and a wise, funny, and uplifting account of one man's reconnection with nature, Seeds celebrates Horan's triumphs and calamities on his quest to link trees with great writers—a delightfully original meditation on the nature of inspiration and a one-of-a-kind adventure into literature.
Novelist Horan (Goose Music, 2001, etc.) travels around the country gathering seeds dropped by trees standing on land of literary, historical, musical or military significance.
The author, a feckless though exuberant tour guide, repeatedly arrives at an author's home (the Scott Fitzgeralds' in Montgomery, Ala.; the Faulkners' in Oxford, Miss.) only to find it's closed. Sometimes, he pops onto the property anyway, a latter-day acorn-gatherer, his endless supply of Ziploc bags at the ready. Later, at home, he tries to urge his seeds, with mixed success, into germination and growth. Horan seems to know little about some of the writers he intends to honor, a notable exception being Thomas Wolfe; he makes some stunning errors—attributing one lovely epigraphic quotation to Kate Chopin'sThe Awakening(it's from her story "Mrs. Mobry's Reason"), then a few pages later, while sauntering down Esplanade in New Orleans, fails to mention that tree-lined street is a major setting forThe Awakening. The author is merciless about docents and neglects to extract from his prose dozens of clichés. After reading that Horan gets a "lump in my throat," sees a "face lit up like a Christmas tree" and experiences a "magical moment," readers may wish that he had learned more about fresh language from those graceful writers whose trees he adores. However, the author offers some effective moments, too. He notes with authentic disgust the mostly Caucasian staff at Mt. Vernon, and he is outraged about the decision of the National Park Service to clear majestic trees from Gettysburg to make the battlefield look more "authentic."
A dazzling diamond of an idea set in a ring of straw.
Excerpted from Seeds by Richard Horan Copyright © 2011 by Richard Horan. Excerpted by permission of Harper Perennial. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Licoln, Twain, Presley, and Faulkner 7
L. Frank Baum 15
Jack Kerouac 26
Edith Wharton and Esther Forbes 39
Back Home 58
Henry Miler 63
Ken Kesey 88
John Muir 97
Back Home 110
Pearl S. Buck 115
Shirley Jackson 128
Willa Gather 137
Back Home 146
Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Ancient Creek Indians, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald 151
Harper Lee and Truman Capote 167
Muhammad Ali 173
Back Home 181
Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson 185
Robert Frost 200
Herman Melville 208
Rachel Carson 222
Back Home 230
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson 235
Gettysburg Redux 251
Appomattox Courthouse and the American Chestnut Foundation 258
Thomas Wolfe 267
Back Home 277
William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Sherwood Anderson, Louis Armstrong, and William S. Burroughs 281
Eudora Welty 300
Willie Morris and Tennessee Williams Redux 308
William Faulkner Redux 319
Helen Keller 329
Back Home …and Divine Intervention 337
My Original List 341
Posted June 13, 2011
Seeds is a lifelong reader's tribute to American authors. For Horan, visiting the author's homes and the places that may have inspired them is a pilgrimage. His account of the trees and landscape that he finds is a special sort of literary travelogue. In many ways, Seeds seems like a book perfect for the author who describes himself as "a transient most of my life, I have a knack for bonding with any given locale. I need only wander around a place for a little while to feel a keen sense of belonging. As a teacher, I've learned that someone's environment has as much to tell us about that person as does his or her friends and family." Sure enough, Horan takes us to some unexpected places.
I particularly enjoyed the account of his visit to L. Frank Baum's childhood home in Northern Syracuse, New York. There is a Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove in North Syracuse where L. Frank Baum had played as a child and was an inspiration for his enchanted forest. A weak and sickly child, Frank spent much of his childhood on his own. At twelve, his family moved to Roselawn Estate in Mattydale, New York. Roselawn was located near the first plank road ever built - a street made entirely of wood, Plank Road was made of hemlock and had an unusual golden color. It was used to transport salt from the nearby lake to southern parts of New York state.
Horan describes the thick woods 2 miles away from the Roselawn Estate which had been owned by friends of the Baum family and is now the Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove. Seven acres in size, it is the most historic old grove in the eastern U.S. Horan comes across a 150 year old giant red oak that is over 100 feet tall and three times the size of a mature oak. Horan describes the plaques on several of the ancient oaks and maples, each with dedications to artists, writers, and people that have changed the world: Walt Disney, Anne Frank, John Lennon, Mahatma Gandhi, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King,John Lennon, John Muir, Edgar Alan Poe, and L. Frank Baum.
When Horan visits Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald's beautiful old home - which has been transformed into a museum and rental apartments -he writes about the gigantic and majestic pecan tree nearly 100 feet tall and what it must have been like for Fitzgerald working and taking a break by the tree. When he visits to Montgomery, Alabama and the street where Truman Capote and Harper Lee lived, he tells us about the oak that that inspired Boo Radley's tree where he left gifts for Atticus Finch's kids.
When Horan visited Pearl S. Buck's estate, he collected seeds from bamboo and silver maple. He explored the estate, including her grave site. In the description of her home and museum and of the spot in Danby, Vermont, Horan conveys much of Pearl S. Buck and the time in which she lived and wrote. It's difficult to cover Buck's unusual life, particularly through through her possessions and her land. Her books and her life have left a longstanding impact on the world - she lived and described a critical point in China's history. Her books are the best way to know Pearl S. Buck, but hopefully, Horan's visit to her home encourages young people to want to discover her stories.
I found Seeds an unusual and fascinating read.
ISBN-10: 0061861685 - Paperback
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 19, 2011), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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Posted July 7, 2012
There is a prophecy told to my wolf pavk thst involves an apprentice named Tigerpaw. He will get mad and if not calmed down then...Well ull see. Just know be warned he is a strong cat.
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Posted November 10, 2011
This book was a page turner. Its been a long time since a book has made my skin crawl. Truley a spine chiller. For fans of Stephen King you will love this book but its more along the lines of a Richard Bachman book. It is dark and creepy. I enjoyed this book so much. I cant wait to read more by this author
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