Archive for October, 2010

Living Up To Love Beyond Words — Savannah’s Tale Continued

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 by michaelcogdill

If you made your way here through the Savannah piece on Ether Books, I must say a passionate thank you!  To meet Savannah through reading about our final moments together means you and I have shared a sadness, which amounts to a sacrifice on your part.  Given that a good dog always gives joy, even through the hardest times, I feel it absolutely necessary to give some to you.  Savannah’s memory requires this of me.  She would celebrate my telling this on her.

When she was hardly five years old, out for a walk through an open field near our home, Savannah coaxed me into trusting her.  A pond lay near, and I knew she loved it.  But her eyes cast up at me an innocence that silently said, “I’ll stay with you.  We’ll just run around together.  I’ll mind you.  No, I won’t wade the mud, split the water wide open, get stinkin’ filthy, shake all over you, then force you to take me home humiliated in the eyes of the woman who shares a bed with you.”

I let her off the leash anyway.

Savannah took a hard-running joy lap around me, then sprang up the hill before us, straight for that pond.  I called her.  Called her again.  She stopped at the crest of the hill, looked back at me, then shot a look toward the water, then back once more at me with a panting grin that said, “Ain’t life beautiful?  You’re about to forgive me and never forget it.”

Inside 45 seconds, the immaculate house dog my wife, Jill, kept combed slicker than a 70’s country star swam 30 yards off shore, disobedient as a felon, more at home than Joan Rivers at a Clinique counter.  She swam instantly forgiven, her joy more contagious than chicken pox at a Justin Bieber show.

I soon took Savannah home, both of us stinking of wet dog.  The trust between us had a small dent in its side.   Yet we traveled in a love that shone like a new Jag.

Years later, Savannah started visiting a nursing home with me, forging a legacy of selfless care so palpable to this moment, I can nearly feel her head under my hand again.  To those who had no one, she became the beautiful someone who would visit, with a bounding eagerness, never minding the smells and looks of things that tend to cause humankind to run the other way.  Savannah brought joy to the lonesome, energy to the weary staff, and seemed to make the air around us both smile out loud. 

Such a life never goes out.  She is gone, and yet with me.  Absent, though present in every heart that recalls her. 

In this enduring thought, Savannah reminds me to ask a critical question of myself, about myself.  Are people made happier by my being here?

To answer is bound to improve me as a man.  She improves me.  Savannah never said a word, yet still inspires me to measure my own words, to make as sure as I can they do no harm. 

May every word I speak or write somehow live up to Savannah — who quietly composed her own language of love.    

Oh, by the way, if you stumbled upon this and want the rest of the story, check it out on Ether Books —

She-Rain, Snooki, And Literary Criticism Fit For Lady Gaga

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 by michaelcogdill

Amid the abundant praise flowing to the novel, She-Rain has drawn a critic or two who find its prose a bit gilded for their taste. 

To this I first say the narrator can’t help himself.  He’s an aged man who rose from Southern coves of ignorance and inelegant speech.   He leans, with passion and a touch of hell-raising, into his love of the language and the kind of learning boys of his origins rarely acquired.  The man would laugh at a reality show like Jersey Shore, but then catch his breath and cuss the media enthronement of its blinding banality.   Your She-Rain narrator would look at Snooki and her new book deal and predict they’ll become best-selling record-breakers for the use of such words as “awesome,”  “juicer,” and “gym-tan-laundry.”  He would raise some amusing hell about this, too.

I offer here a few lines from late in the narrative, just to spark a conversation about the sound of the She-Rain language.   Whether you think it’s music or discord, I welcome your thoughts, eagerly.  I work in television, so there’s no need for worry about touching any tender little nerves.  With some candid dialogue, we’re all bound to learn something about each other and build relationships.   Writers tend to retreat into catacombs of the self —  haunted there by the yin and yang of wild ego and desperate self-loathing.  Writers tend to have few friends.  I, on the other hand, will never have too many — even among those who would encourage me to write while sitting in front of a moving train.  Welcome, everyone, with your opinions more naked than Lady Gaga at a Grammy after-party.  Don’t clothe your thoughts on my account!!  Let them go commando.

This little passage comes from page 181 and a boy in hiding, eavesdropping on a cussing old preacher and a pretty girl who are talking on the porch, just beyond the open window above him. 

“The damp early August breeze swelled the thin curtains around my now-aching crouch by the window, but I dared not move, fearing any motion might inform them of me in this newfound quiet.  Both legs were solid with cramps, but the silence gave me pause enough to take in the richness of the room.   Walls and even the ceiling papered in more flourish than I had imagined — every space filled with design fine enough to wear the words “legal tender.”  The furnishings all buttoned and soft and plumb with celery color soothing to the eyes.   The rug wore a much deeper green, almost black.  It felt softer than the bed I had left at home.  And all around were portrait paintings, containers of shined brass, three clocks ticking in odd concert, two on tables of dark red, the other on a heavy blonde mantle.  I could touch the piano from my crouch.  Doing so made me wonder how so hard and heavy a thing could feel as creamy as human flesh under fingertips.   At my position, the sheers began to stick where the late-summer heat had soaked my face.  I remember thinking Mr. Proctor never expected anyone who broke a sweat in his mill would do likewise in his fanciful sitting room.”