Saturday, August 27, 2011

Losing Battles with Welty Book Club

I'm in a lovely little book club. I don't know if we have an official name, but it grew out of a Great Topics  class at Millsaps College about two years ago. The class was lead by Suzanne Marrs, Welty Scholar-in-Residence at Millsaps and the best-selling author of several books including Eudora Welty, A Biography and One Writer's Imagination: The Fiction of Eudora Welty.

I took the class for graduate credit, but I think everyone else took it just as an opportunity to learn more about literature. We studied the works and friendships of Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Bowen and Ross McDonald. Since the class ended, we've met once a month to discuss a piece of literature. I don't always get to go because of work conflicts, but I always try! I love getting to see my Welty Book Club friends - they are so knowledgeable and many of them knew Eudora personally and have great insight to people she used as inspiration for characters or events in Jackson that inspired her work.


We only discussed parts 3 & 4 so I'm not going to give it all away, yet, but I did want to share the above piece of art. I cannot remember the artist's name but will find out and post it soon! The landscape is what is described in the first two paragraphs of Losing Battles:

When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed check, one day short of full. A long thin cloud crossed it slowly, drawing itself out like a name being called. The air changed, as if a mile or so away a wooden door had swung open, and a smell, more of warmth than wet, from a river at low stage, moved upward into the lay hills that stood in darkness.

Then a house appeared on its ridge, like an old man's silver watch pulled once more of its pocket. A dog leaped up from where he'd lain like a stone and began barking for today as if he meant never to stop.

Isn't that beautiful? If you've never read any of Eudora Welty's work, Losing Battles is a wonderful novel. It's set in the 1930s in Mississippi's hill country and is about a family celebrating their Granny's 90th birthday and waiting for Jack, wrongly accused of a crime, to come home from Parchman. I'll give a full review after our September meeting!

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