Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
- Ray Bradbury
I love Ray! I met him, apparently, but have no memory of it. Just a letter I sent to my aunt with a Polaroid of me and him, and a signed copy of a book. It disturbs me how much happens in my life that I don't remember. So, as you can see, I'm recording all the really important stuff here.
Last night I polished off Breaker Morant: A Horseman Who Made History by FM Cutlack. Generally, when people want to read about Harry Morant they turn to Kit Denton's "classic" novel, The Breaker. I never have. I find I have a set against Kit Denton merely on the basis of having a set against his son, Andrew. I get sets. I'm like a badger.
Cutlack was a boy when Breaker Morant worked on his parents' property in South Australia. He clearly idolised the man and this comes through in the romantic portrayal of the horseman as a swashbuckling adventurer, out for nothing but some good times (and a bit of killin'). Nevertheless, he tells a lively story and for someone like me who is not an avid reader of either history or biography, it certainly kept me enthralled. The book also includes a collection of Morant's verse; some of it not too bad. This first verse of the last poem he wrote, on the eve of his death by firing squad, is, I think, a rather grand example of grace under pressure:
In prison cell I sadly sit -Also read:
A d-d crestfallen chappy!
And own to you I feel a bit -
A little bit - unhappy!
A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion. I'd never read anything by her before and am now a confirmed fan. Until I read another book and hate it.
The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. Very funny and really very sweet. He can't help doing the schmaltz but he does it pretty well.
Thank God I'm a Country Boy - John Denver [It's so true! Life ain't nothin' but a funny, funny riddle!]
Kiss Them For Me - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Angel of the Morning - Juice Newton [I'm so embarrassed to love this song. But there you go, I do. And let's face facts: I'm playing it right now.]
Grey Cell Green - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Rose of Cimmaron - Poco [What is this song all about? I have no idea. I just like listening to it.]