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One Midsummer Morning with Lee

Guest Post by Michael Coolen.

“I remember coming to one village whose streets were black with priests, and its taverns full of seething atheists.”

Almost every page of Laurie Lee’s memoir As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning: A Memoir is filled with redolent writing. Like many writers supplanted by magical realists, deconstructing whiners, and much less gifted authors, Laurie Lee is receding into the past for many readers who don’t even know his name, much less his exquisite writing.

As a composer and pianist for many decades, I draw inspiration and comfort not only from contemporary music, but from music from the distant to ancient past. Similarly, from time to time I seek out writers from the distant past, Virgil, Herodotus, et al., whose writing confirms to me that Time is just a word we use to measure grief and laughter and insight and children and love.

A friend with similar tastes introduced me to the writings of Laurie Lee just recently. I did not even know who he was. And now I can’t wait to read everything he ever wrote, where every page can contain sentences like the following: “Segovia was a city in a valley of stones—a compact, half-forgotten heap of architectural splendours built for the glory of some other time.”

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning: A Memoir by Laurie Lee. Nonpareil Books, 2011.

Reviewer bio: Michael Coolen is an Oregon writer/pianist. He is also a composer, with works performed Carnegie Hall, MoMA, the Christie Gallery, Europe, Japan, and Russia.

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