Coram's Take On It

SIX PLUS ONE

I’m talking about six books. These are not the six greatest books ever written. These are not even my favorite six books. These are simply six books that do what books are supposed to do: linger in the heart and soul. Long after I read these books, their phrases, ideas and themes remain stuck to the ribs of my memory. These books are old friends that I return to again and again, books that disturb my thinking, and books that I wish I had written.

 

Because I write non-fiction books, five of the six are non-fiction. I’ll begin with the outlier, the sole novel in the bunch:

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes.

In the forty years since the end of the Vietnam War, no book has fully captured the complex nuances and conflicting tides of that confused and bitter time in America’s history. There has been no book that was the book about Vietnam. That is, until Matterhorn. This book is like the Mekong in full flood: it rises out of its banks, spreads across the countryside, and sweeps away all before it. Gritty. Visceral. Aching. And filled with the sweet sadness of young men going through the white-hot defining moments of their lives; knowing that if they live, everything else they ever experience will be anti-climactic; knowing that they are fighting and dying among the best men America has to offer, and that when – or if – they return home, they will be criticized and ridiculed by the worst men America has to offer.

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A GOOD MAN AND ME

Terry Kay is on my mind.

I have known Terry since the mid-1960s when we both were writing for The Atlanta Journal. He came out of the sports department and took over as the film and entertainment critic and soon had a national reputation as a discerning critic and as a gifted writer.

In 1976 Terry published his first novel, The Year the Lights Came On, and since then he has leaped from one literary mountain peak to another. His book, To Dance With the White Dog, received world-wide attention and from it came a splendid movie. Now Terry is recognized as one of the South’s most lyrical voices and, perhaps more important, as one of God’s good people.

You can find all you want to know about Terry at various web sites: terrykay.com and Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

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WHERE THE BONES NEVER REST

After I saw the splendid and funny movie The Bucket List, I made my own list. It contained none of the unexpected yet beautiful things such as “Laugh until I cry” or “Witness something majestic” or “Climb a pyramid” that you saw in the movie. No, I am not that complex. In fact my list had only one item: Go bonefishing at More’s Island.

This is such a simple and uncomplicated thing that it will disappoint many who saw the movie, but those who fish for bones will understand.

People can’t even agree on how to spell the name of the island: Moores, Moore’s, Mores, or More’s, but they usually go for the last version. T
hose who have fished this out-of-the-way little Bahamian sand bar can, however, agree that it is a nautical version of Jurassic Park and
probably the best place on the planet to find big unpressured bonefish.

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