As a small child, I used to check out seven books each week. When I discovered my mother limited me to the number of books, and not the number of pages, well, you can imagine the heft of each book. There's no such limitation with the Kindle.
The Kindle is much more delightful than a stack of library books. The mysterious device lives in my pocketbook, never more than two feet away from my ready grasp. At the coffee shop, while waiting patiently for clients or dentists, although I confess I've never opened the slim cover at a stop light, I have enraged the odd flight attendant or too by not closing the device as landing approached.
But the lyrical language?
Oh, that's right. I promised you lyrical language. But didn't I also promise you the truth? The truth is I've discovered reading in 2010 is very different from my childhood. While up to my eyeballs in Mark Twain's autobiography, I found a lengthy story about General U.S. Grant's autobiography. Two clicks of the Kindle, and voila, a free version of General Grant's autobiography was safely on its way to my happy hands.
Hiram Ulysses Grant, enrolled at West Point by his sponsor under the name Ulysses Simpson Grant, possessed the gifts of clarity, vision, and truth. His words, the lyrical language he chose, rattles around in my brain, even while I sleep. On revolution he said, “Now the right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or by overthowing it and substuiting a government more acceptable. But any people or part of a people who resort to this remedy, stake their lives, their property, and every claim for protection given by citizenship – on the issue.”
Given the recent events in the world, these words struck my heart like a steel anvil. Read the quote again. In today's language, we might be tempted to say, “Love the player, hate the game.” You can spin this statement in many different directions, depending on your point of view, the stakes, and sadly the outcomes.
But what I've found compelling in Grant's words are the cautions he gives to countries, generals, and individual citizens. And to think, I would have never found this treasure, save for a curious mind and the easy of access provided by my electro-mechanical book. Grant has more words of wisdom that I'll be sharing today on my twitter feed (clphillips787).
But back to Mark Twain. Twain it seems, had a knack for spotting true character in an individual. He knew Grant well enough to know that the man would make a poor business deal by hooking up with the first publisher that made him an offer.
To hear Mark Twain tell the story, the writing and publishing business wasn't much different than today. Can you believe that General Grant, ex-president Grant, a man of many accomplishments was so unsure that anyone would read his autobiography that he nearly went with the first publisher, a small house that thought they could sell 5,000 copies. Sound familiar? But what does that have to do with lyrical language you ask?
Mark Twain knew a story when he read one. After reading a couple of articles Grant wrote for a magazine and knowing the subject matter, the Civil War, Twain knew a blockbuster when he saw it. He encouraged General Grant to entertain offers from several publishing houses. His memoirs were published in 1885, shortly after his death. More than 300,000 copies were sold, the exact number that Mark Twain predicted.
The man had a story, more than that, he had a gift for lyrical language. The rare combination of vision, clarity, insight and truth. As as the reader, he pulls emotions from you. Even after 120 years.
May you discover lyrical language in what you read today.