Sunday, November 1, 2009

Doctorow's March

Okay. So it's not a new book but, since I just finished reading it, it's new to me.
Here's the book's first sentence:
"At five in the morning someone banging on the door and shouting, her husband, John, leaping out of bed, grabbing his rifle, and Roscoe at the same time roused from the back house, his bare feet pounding: Mattie hurriedly pulled on her robe, her mind prepared for the alarm of war, but the heart stricken that it would finally have come, and down the stairs she flew to see through the open door in the lamplight, at the steps of the portico, the two horses, steam rising from their flanks, their heads lifting, their eyes wild, the driver a young darkie with rounded shoulders, showing stolid patience even in this, and the woman standing in her carriage no one but her aunt Letitia Pettibone of McDonough, her elderly face drawn in anguish, her hair a straggled mess, this woman of such fine grooming, this dowager who practically ruled the season in Atlanta standing up in the equipage like some hag of doom, which indeed she would prove to be."
My high school English teacher, Miss Blanche Kennedy, loved to diagram sentences. Had she not lived years beyond an early grave, that first sentence of "The March" would surely have sent her to just such a resting place.
I learned a lot about writing from reading this book. I also learned a lot about the Civil War and about the socio-economic problems left in its wake and from which we have yet to recover.
And though I needed no reminder of this, "The March' nevertheless pounds home the relentless truth that war is the height of madness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you don't need a reminder of war's insanity but sadly way too many people haven't yet realized that fact.