The Fallen Leaves of Books

Turning the last page of Judith Thurman’s biography, Isak Dinesen, it falls gently to the ground like the descent from a cliff in a dream. The Dane’s life story grips, yanks, pulls, twists at the branches of the mind and heart, then tears loose and floats into the soul of one’s being. She’s lost inside her bourgeois family, leaves them for unknown east Africa, finds her secret self among the animals, the vast open land, the accepting spirituality of the Kikuyu and her prominent role on the coffee farm. She loses this whole life, but carries her new self back to her original home Rungstedlund in Denmark to tell this story, and others. What if her story had not been told? What if we had never had the privilege of being swept into her first words from Out of Africa?

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills.”

The myrtle wound around the base of trees below my window is flaked with layers of leaves: ocher, tarnished-gold, buckskin-brown, with a hint of barn-red. Fall books cover the floor to make way for winter: Olive Kitteridge, The Portable Nietzsche, Half-Broke Horses, Gilead, Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2, The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Anything from Anna Quindlen coming soon, I hope?