“…I want to know my country. I want to touch, taste, smell and hear as well as see this land. If it stinks of manure on the fields I want to know it. If the water on any given mountain is sweet I want to know just how sweet. I want to hear the wind in the grass as well as see it push the trees around. But most of all I want to feel all of these things. I want to know firsthand. I don’t want the Greyhound Company or any other pumping stale reconditioned air into my lungs or pre-recorded sound into my ears. If I have to be an American (and I do) I don’t want to be sold short on my own country.” ~ Breece D’J Pancake.
Wow. I mean WOW.
Whoever heard of Breece D’J Pancake? I didn’t, until my dear uncle Howard Cummins wrote about Pancake’s writing in a column for The Postin Big Stone Gap, Virginia. I listen to what Howard has to say, especially about writing and writers.
He’s not the only one who read and appreciated Pancake’s work. Apparently lots of people did. Jon Michaud, writing in The New Yorker in 2014, said of Pancake’s prose, “On a price-per-word basis, it may be the best money I’ve ever spent on a book.”
I headed straight to the San Francisco Public Library website and ordered a copy of Pancake’s stories. In a day or two or three, I’ll get the notice that the book is waiting for me at the Richmond district branch. How delicious it will be to climb the steps to the library, enter the big double doors, smell that odor of books, find the volume tucked on the holds shelf with a slip of paper bearing my name. I’ll check it out, take it home, sit in my reading corner and sink into it.
The pleasure of reading.
The pain of writing.
Pancake killed himself at the age of 26. His words and ideas mattered. He had something to say. I’m grateful he wrote it down.
What you have to say matters, too. Please write. Right now.
Photo Credit: Jilbert Ebrahimi
I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit my real estate blog, RealEstateTherapy.org or my business website, KindredSFhomes.com.