Life, all over

This letter to the editor of The New York Times Book Review by the writer David Shield is a protest against a certain city-centric kind of writing, but it is also compelling spiritual advice.

In The Times’s Arts & Leisure section the same day, in a profile of the painter Wayne Thiebaud, Patricia Leigh Brown’s first sentence reads, “Many people would consider State Highway 160 to be a why-bother sort of a landscape, an isolated and unremarkable byway atop a levee along the Sacramento River in which the lone landmarks include a ramshackle bait and tackle shop and rusty pipes from an old sugar beet factory.” Perhaps it’s time to retire this quaint gesture — the writer’s shock that an artist has found matter other than in the agreed-upon precincts. Life is interesting all over. Every life, properly understood, is compelling. Anyone aspiring to be an artist knows there’s no such thing as why-bother or nothing-to-see.

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  1. Susan Hedges

    The “quaint gesture” is a well recognized way to get the reader’s attention, and draw one in to a wonderfully written article about Mr. Thiebaud and his art. As in the case of Mr. Shield, it often provokes an immediate reaction. I hope he bothered to read the complete article.

  2. Susan Hedges

    And of course, first I should have said thanks, Jim for the link to this wonderful article. I was provoked above by Mr. Shield’s reaction, to forget my manners, and perhaps overreact!

  3. Susan Hedges

    I am completely red faced with embarrassment.

    And yes, I am in agreement with the last three sentences of Shield’s letter. I now have a postit note on my screen reading, “Notice – read the *complete* posting before making comments!!!”

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