Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rainy Days and Reading

Raw and rainy days, a warm fire, and a good book seem to go well together. In that spirit, I recommend In an Uncharted Country by Clifford Garstang, a Shenandoah Valley author. You can easily read the dozen short stories in a morning while listening to rain pecking on the window and rising to occasionally stoke the fire.
Garstang has written short stories about everyday folks in and around the fictional town of Rugglesville located in western Virginia. Several connected directly to my life, my experiences, my hopes and dreams... I think I've been to Rugglesville. I suspect many of these stories will relate to your world as well. In others I heard echos of neighbors or family dealing with all the twists and turns of life. While all the stories are compelling and thought-provoking, I was most moved by "Flood, 1978" and "The Clattering of Bones."
It wasn't until I got into the second half of In an Uncharted Country that I began to realize how these seemingly unrelated stories were interconnected in a way that brought a deeper richness and meaning to all of the characters and their experiences. It all came rushing together in the last story, "Red Peony."
Okay, I'll admit I read one story a day over a couple weeks. But, if you read In an Uncharted Country in one sitting by the fire or over a couple weeks matters little. Either way, Garstang will take you on an emotional, geographical, and psychological journey where you may just discover a little more about yourself and your own town.
For more information about In an Uncharted Country and Clifford Garstang, and to order your own copy, visit Cliff's website.