The Yellow Leaves: A Miscellany by Frederick Buechner

If you look at some of my book lists, you can see that I have read a little bit of Frederick Buechner here and there. Telling the Truth and Wishful Thinking were helpful books for me at a difficult time, but I haven’t read some of his most famous books. Godric, for example, has been sitting on my Amazon wishlist forever. (How’s that for a shameless plug?) The library where I used to work didn’t have it. GPL has it, though! So maybe I’ll just put a hold on it.

So when my book club suggested The Yellow Leaves, I was happy to check it out. The Yellow Leaves is a small book of works left over that never turned into anything larger. In the preface, Buechner likens them to leaves left on the trees after most everything else has fallen. I happen to like the leftover leaves, myself.

Most of the stories/vignettes are about family, but one stuck out to me in particular, when he discussed what was on his bulletin board from pictures of John Irving to pictures of Princess Diana. I love snapshots of life like that. What would my bulletin board say about me with its old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, its PEI bookmark, its Luke and Lorelai clipping from TV Guide? What does my office say about me, with its family photos, its librarian action figures (yes, figures. More than one), and its general disarray? Another favorite was the small bit on Maya Angelou and a discussion of some of his boarding school teachers. In the section on his teachers, I was especially moved by the discussion of one in particular. Buechner has the gift of summing up a person in one sentence and doing so with great compassion.

This is a slim book, but I lingered over it. Since the snatches aren’t completely developed, this reader felt as if she was jumping in the middle. That was enjoyable, but it took a little bit of time to reorient when a new section started. Mostly what this book did is remind me that I want to read some more Buechner. Definitely one of my goals for 2009.

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