Saturday Footnotes and Seamus Heaney

This isn’t a real post so much as a clump of small thoughts from today.  First, I just started reading a book that I’ve hoped to read for a few years (my “to read” list is a little bit out of hand, so sometimes things get lost in the shuffle) .  It’s called Ibid: a life, and it’s a fictitious biography made up of nothing but footnotes.  If you read a slightly more detailed description, it makes more sense.

Part of me feels like I’m doing penance for never reading footnotes in the past.  I’ve always thought that if it was a truly important addition to the text, they would have put it in the body of the text in the first place.  But this particular book is by the author of one of my favorite novels, Ella Minnow Pea, so I expect much more entertaining fare than I did from my biology or art history footnotes.

Thought number two is unconnected except that it’s literary.  This quote has been tacked up in my cubicle for a year, and it still makes me happy when I read it.  Brad Leithauser of the New York Times said the following in an article about the Irish poet Seamus Heaney: “And his is the gift of saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say.”

I love that idea of saying something significant and beautiful without making it ostentatious or obnoxious.  There are so many brilliant people who alienate others because they don’t know how to present their ideas.  I’m not a big poetry buff, but with a description like that, how could I not look forward to reading more of Heaney’s work?!

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