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The Great Passage by Shion Miura is one of those novels that remind me why I read Japanese fiction, one of those delightful tales where plot serves the characters, unlike most western novels where characters serve the plot. It is a story about the power of words, about the tenacity of love, about the resilience of friendship over time. Juliet Winters Carpenter's marvelous translation makes it all come alive for readers in English. Henry's books . If you would like Follow.it to deliver Drovers Gap blog directly to your email inbox, click here .

Unless...

Our little town gets pretty quiet this time a year. The summer folk have mostly gone back to where they came from. You know the names of most people you meet on the street. Life slows down. Talk gets real. Silences can be cultivated rather than avoided.

Some of us clear our leaves. Some of us let them lie. We don't argue about it. Mine tend to get mulched if they get in the way. We're putting our gardens to bed now. Saving seed for next year. Giving the gardening catalogs some earnest study. Hope outlives any winter.

There are no tall buildings in our town, and most of us here pray there won't be any for a long long time to come. We like to live close to the ground. We prefer looking up to our trees, and we mourn the ones we lose.

We meet bears and foxes here, on occasion, walking up and down the streets and lanes just like they own the place. Maybe, in God's eye, they do. They have been living around here a lot longer than we humans. I'm guessing they regard us with more tolerance than welcome.

Unless we homo sapiens clean up our act, one day they may be glad to see us gone. The last to come are generally the first to leave. We appear on the scene, have our little say under the sun, and before we quite figure out what we are about, we are swept away, as dry and fallen as any leaf. Our leavings don't even make good mulch.

 

Henry's books.

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