Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Upstream: Selected EssaysUpstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver passed away on 17 January, 2019. One of the many people to pay tribute to her in the following days was Maria Popova. Ms. Popova mentioned an essay entitled “Staying Alive” in Upstream: Selected Essays wherein Mary Oliver cites reading as having saved her.

It seems like the notion of being saved by certain activities related to her profession was a common theme for Mary Oliver. During her 2015 interview with On Being’s Krista Tippett, Mary Oliver cites poetry has having saved her.

Listening to Mary Oliver being interviewed, or reading her essays, one hears an unpretentious neighbor lady who would be a joy to know but who would also cherish her personal space and privacy. She wrote of dogs, foxes, turtles, owls, spiders. She wrote about coming across three codfish on a Cape Cod beach, apparently left there by a someone who caught them but then decided not to take them home. Mary Oliver did take them home and prepared them for her dinner. She also took home an injured seagull, nursed it as well as she could, then wrote of its remaining days in vivid, frank detail.

Upstream also put me in mind of Out Walking: Reflections on Our Place in the Natural World by John Leax. Now I need to read more of their poetry.

Thanks for stopping by.


Why Is The Catcher in the Rye a Classic?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was recently ranked thirtieth out of one hundred books featured in the PBS series “The Great American Read.” It is one of the many books included in the PBS list that I had not read prior to the airing of the series, so I added it to my list. It wasn’t long before I began to understand why it was controversial and even banned by some authorities when it was first published, but in a world where a book entitled Swearing Is Good for You exists, the language and sexual references of Catcher in the Rye seem tame.

Having satisfied my curiosity about why The Catcher in the Rye was controversial, I wonder why it is considered a classic and why it would make it onto the PBS list. I have my thoughts, but rather than share them (read: bore readers with them), I thought I would ask anyone who happens to stumble on this post. What makes The Catcher in the Rye a classic?

You would make my day, my week, and possibly my month if you would take two minutes to leave a brief comment here with your thoughts.

Thank you for stopping by!