I’ve just finished a gem of an essay collection, in which is included a piece on the 1921 racially motivated violence in Tulsa, an episode in US history I’d managed to never retain before this. The collection includes another episode in history–this one as much art as political–that fascinates me and fills me with regret for not having met sooner:  the painting of murals on the tunnel wall under Riverside Park.

That’s the beauty of grazing on books the way sheep take on a mountainside: the unexpected is almost always found in the same mouthful as the hoped-for or even the necessary–flowers among the grass and oat stalks.  In another volume I’m enjoying these days, recently deceased photographer Didier Lefevre has a wonderful pair of photos showing a boy about six or seven years old confronting print text, the expression on his face described in words as that displayed, through time and across cultures, by children learning to read. It’s not a happy look, but it’s not pained either: it’s the expression of one who is sorting nettles from petals.


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