Sep 15, 2011

In Deep

country essays
by Maxine Kumin

I can't remember how I found this author; I think she was mentioned in some other books I read. She's a poet, and I struggle to appreciate poetry, so instead I looked for some of her prose and found this book of essays about country living on the steep hillsides of New England.

In Deep has a range of topics, from tapping maple trees and trying to divert the rivers of mud in spring to collecting wild mushrooms (which brought to mind the mushroom book) and growing a kitchen garden. But most of them are about horses- the first horse she rode as a child, the keeping of family horses (very large pets), one about a foal that was rejected by its mother and raised as an orphan. There's also a chapter all about mules, comparing them to poets (quite favorably for the poets, I'd say- mules are hardy, stalwart creatures!) and another about the virtues of Scots Highland cattle. Even if you're not excited about horses, there's something lively and thoughtful in these essays- from Kumin's thoughts on the weather and observations about other people to her descriptions of the animals and seasons they all pass through on the little farm.

Incidentally, a few of her poems were included in the book, as she also talks quite a bit about the work of writing poetry. I liked them okay, but I'm not sure if I'd get through a whole book of them. I do want to find more essays by Kumin, or has she ever written a novel? Have any of you read more of her works? Got any recommendations for me?

Rating: 4/5 ....... 180 pages, 1987


Stefanie said...

I know Kumin as a pet and had no idea she'd written a book of essays! It sounds really enjoyable. I will have to look for it at my library sometime.

Bybee said...

Kumin and Anne Sexton were besties.