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Insert Title Here: Musings on Reading

The Statement: The best part of summer is reading. Pure, enjoyable, un-assigned reading. There is nothing like stretching out in fresh cut grass with a book in hand, knowing that IF you so desired, you could abandon your literary pursuits to rot your brain out watching Jersey Shore marathons. But you choose not to, because you are an academically minded, mature adult. Okay, at least sometimes.

The Personal Bit to Support Above Statement: For me, the part of May not spent reading into the wee hours of the morning and becoming great friends with the 5th floor of the Mansfield Library (read: finals week), I spent in serious school detox (read: sleeping, hiking, boating, climbing, not a written word in site). Yet June brings that itch for a good summer read. And June, thus far, has declared itself month of the short story.  Fugue (the University of Idaho’s literary magazine), The Best American Short Stories collections, The Sun Magazine, Orion… I’ve been devouring short stories and essays like a drunk college sophomore chows on neon orange mac n’ cheese. I love the way a well-written short story can so effortlessly slide you into a life you will likely never have or fully understand. You look down at the page. You are the son of a Mormon rancher in southern Idaho, you are a choir-singing spinster in New York City, a single father and radiologist technician in Iowa,  and on and on. You tear your eyes off the page, up into the fading Montana sunlight. Your foot is asleep, your eyes are blurred and your mouth is dry. But, for $10.50 plus tax you just traveled across the country. Can’t beat travel costs or a carbon footprint like that.

The Contrast: Yet I also love a short story written about a place you do know, a place you already understand and love. “Yes!” I want to exclaim while reading Fugue, “I DO know how Whitebird grade melts into the Camas prairie, how a salmon smells as it rots on a riverbank, how the winter wind of Montana cuts down to your bones and chills you from the inside out.” Reading the writers of the west makes me so damn happy to be from this region I can hardly contain myself. A well-written short story can also step into your own life and remind you of what is always right before your eyes.

The Enviro Tie In: So, the short story: either a manner of understanding a completely foreign worldview or a reminder of what lies beneath your feet. Understanding that environmental issues have worldwide implications, yet resolving issues from the ground up. Thinking globally, acting locally.

The Conclusion: Fully addicted to reading, it’s time to start writing again. Sometimes, writing intimidates the crap out of me. There it sits, the blank page and the pen, the infinite combination of words and ideas, the already long list of those you know could say it better. But even if it’s just filling in forms, practice is practice and it feels a whole lot better than those Jersey Shore reruns.

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