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WGUC Reviews

Local Wonders

Local Wonders
Seasons in the Bohemian Alps
by Ted Kooser

Review by: Craig R. Stafford


Reflecting on the seasons of everyday wisdom in quiet rural life in the Bohemian Alps (located in Nebraska), these essays are verbal snapshots of the ordinary. Gentle aphorisms pepper this simply exquisite book. This is a non-fiction book that I reflect upon frequently, that resonates through my days, and that I have often wrapped in bright paper and ribbon as a special gift to give to myself.

The writing is gentle, evocative, thoughtful and wise. Kooser is a poet (though this is not poetry), and his choice of words reflects his poet's sensibilities. Each sentence, every paragraph, is a delight to read, enjoy and behold. Many books deserve to be read, but few deserve to be read aloud-and this deserves to be read quietly aloud.

In fact, practicing what I preach, I have read many portions to friends and loved ones over coffee. My favorite fragments include: "A person needn't be fearful of sixty-five-year-old Mennonite women in white lace caps...," "I have been sitting outside tonight getting the very old news from the stars..." and "Lots of Avon," where he compares the mysteries and joys of going to country garage sales as is if it were a Shakespearean play. There are simply so many priceless gems bound in the pages of this book, that you will certainly discover favorites all your own.

I am a greedy book reviewer, and I simply cannot conclude this item without sharing a closing fragment from the last pages of the book. It always makes me tear up. I hope that you will set the words free and read this aloud:

"Life is a long walk forward through the crowded cars of a passenger train, the bright world racing past beyond the windows, people on either side of the aisle, strangers whose stories we never learn, dear friends whose names we long remember, and passing
acquaintances whose names and faces we take in like a breath and soon breathe away."


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