Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Odd Geography of Literature

One of the fascinating aspects of our trip to Florida was that out there on the Florida Keys, the vanishing edge of America, several of us were reading a book entitled Dakota. To give this wondrous book its full name, it is by Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Mariner Books, 2001. Michelle brought the book from Paris, but it had been sent to her by one of her closest friends in Hopkins, Minnesota—but the friend now lives and teaches in Michigan. Michelle handed me the book one morning in Marathon, FL to read one chapter. Lord, I thought, finishing my assignment—and reading right on. Then I gave it to Brigitte—and had difficulties getting it back from her. Monique was next. Soon she’d bought it for her Kindle and thus had her own personal electronic copy. Odd, very odd, to be reading about windy western Dakota in a fierce wind which, for about three days, battered us in Marathon. Odd, also, to read a book which ranges geographically from the borders of the two Dakotas to the Scetes desert of Egypt where the Desert Fathers founded Christian Monasticism—and southern Italy where St. Benedict formed his famous order—well represented by multiple foundations in the deserts of South Dakota still. A wonderful book. A poet’s book. A hermit’s book. A rare find…

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