Friday, April 02, 2021

The Virtue, Gift and Discipline of Secrecy: Excerpts from Middling

I write an occasional newsletter (quarterly when I don't forget) to friends and family about my life: music, books, work, and getting older. I'd love to send it to you. Sign up for Middling here. What follows is an excerpt from the winter 2020 issue--before the whole world shut down.


Considering how regularly I assail you with blog posts, tweets, instas, and newsletters, you might be surprised that a favorite recent read of mine is titled How to Disappear. Akiko Busch sucked me in with her introductory chapter, as she sat quietly in a forest observing how intentionally most of creation seeks to hide. That insight springs into a series of essays on the virtue, gift and discipline of secrecy—of not making a scene of ourselves, of allowing ourselves to be simply part of something larger. I was drawn to the book by the title, but I moved it to the top of the pile after someone suggested to me that I was too power-hungry, a critique that comes up occasionally enough that I can’t ignore it even though I kind of resent it. If How to Disappear isn’t still my favorite read nine months from now, I’ll be surprised and I’ll surely let you know.

A much less transformative but similarly knowing book I read recently is The Lager Queen of Minnesota. I heard it praised as an homage to the Midwest, and that sounded pretty good to me. And it is quite good—keenly insightful about how midwestern relationships work, even when those relationships proceed without contact over the course of decades. I want to give it to my mom because I think she’ll like it, and I want her to give it to her siblings because she thinks they’ll like it.

Both Inspiration and Cautionary Tale: Excerpts from Middling

What follows is an excerpt from the Winter 2021 edition of Middling, my quarterly newsletter on music, books, work, and getting older. I'...