Sermons in Stone: Inspirational Fables for Today
. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . NY
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Here is an extra copy of the first edition without a dust-jacket. Here are forty-five prose pieces meant to inspire. They seem to me quintessential 70's material. I find several that are good fables. More of them, however, stress either the sentimental or the mystical. The sentimental might be represented best by The Lonesome Snowflake about a snowflake that loves a Christmas-tree-light, finally comes to it, and turns into a tear. The mystical might be evoked best by The Rainbow Trout. This fish wants to swim in the sky full of stars. He finally escapes the river onto the shore and, in his last few moments, looks down on the stars shining in the water he has just left. There is often, as in Little Creek, a nostalgic or regretful turn to the story. There is sometimes a Zen-like conundrum in these stories, as in the statement by the wind to the little white cloud in the story named after it: You may have joy or power. You can't have both. Let me say a word about each of three genuine fables I have found here. An Icy Reflection works much as DS does. A kingfisher has attacked everything and loves the power he has so much that he does not think of flying south for the winter. Finally the water beneath him turns to ice, he sees in it the image of a bird, and he attacks. In spring they find what is left of him after attacking his own reflection. The Envious Junco presents a bird who envies the fat chickens living and being fed inside the window of a warm building. His envy changes fast when he sees them put on the chopping block. The skinny gray squirrel arrives alone and is ostracized by the fat country squirrels. Then he is joined by another hungry gray and another and another. The fat country squirrels are in no condition to fight well. They soon become the hungry outsiders watching and growing thin. The title is from As You Like It, II 1: This our life, exempt from public haunt,/Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,/Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.