Reflections: Essays on Place and Family

Louis J. Masson, Author
Louis J. Masson, Author Washington State University $18.75 (128p) ISBN 978-0-87422-130-5
Paperback - 126 pages - 978-0-87422-131-2
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Earnestness is like Crisco: a little goes a long way. Overdo it and you risk turning what could be light and airy into something heavy and hard to get through, which is basically what's happened here. Masson, an English professor at the University of Portland, shares some nice thoughts in these essays on family and nature, but he's left out the leavening--the irony, the humor. The result is the literary equivalent of a slog through mud, occasionally broken up by a lively description but more often punctuated by the sort of pocket philosophies that wind up embroidered on a pillowcase in your great aunt living room. Expounding on the role of a parent/professor, Masson writes, ""when you can no longer be held as a child, you hold a child."" Musing on winter, ""the miraculous season,"" he opines, ""And the stories we tell, like the years we have lived, are stairs we have climbed through time."" Masson can resist the urge to spew aphorisms. His descriptions of the Williamette River, from ""the mast of a sailboat and the wheelhouse roof of a tug"" floating by as he attends an outdoor concert to the ""rosary of ponds and small lake strung across the valley,"" evoke a strong sense of place. It's these sections that make the collection worthwhile, perhaps even more so for readers who already know and love that Oregon river. (Apr.)
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