Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reading Journal: The Judas Field

This spread is not very successful at all, but I'm posting it anyway because I want all of you to know about this book. It probably contains the most poetic prose I've ever read, as well as some of the most horrific descriptions of maimed and dying men. As off-putting as that was, and with a thin plot besides, I was compelled to keep reading because of the incredibly elegant writing. Here is a description of the onset of a battle:

"Quick the scarecrow rebel infantry came, running in the killing heat with muskets at the shoulder, eager to possess this land between ridges--every grain of sand, every gully, every wind-shook pine and rag of struggling grass--as if no other land in all the earth could be worth their dying. They lifted their voices, so that over the guns rose a quavering eerie cry like harpies descending, which drowned the manly hurrahs of the yankees and shivered the soul of every man."

And here is a quote of the battle's aftermath:

"Here lies a man who found beauty in all things; in birds, in the uncurling of a fern, in the shadows made by candlelight on a tent wall, and he would say to them, 'Is that not beautiful?' trying to teach them how to see. They had learned from him, and because of him the world would never seem without grace in the smallest things. Now he has no eyes at all."

It's been twenty years since Mississippian Cass Wakefield returned from the war, but he is still haunted by battlefield memories. Now he accompanies a dying woman in a trip to Tennessee to recover the bodies of her father and brother and there his memories reemerge with overwhelming vividness.

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