Monday, September 28, 2015

Staying put

Vivian Swift's 2008 book When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put must be a difficult book for librarians to shelve.

Is it a travel book? Well, yes, even though Swift writes about spending a year at home in a small town on Long Island Sound. She may be staying home, but she nevertheless can't help recalling her travels to France, Africa and elsewhere. These reflections may cause readers to want to go places as much as the rest of her book may make them want to stay home and pay closer attention to what's going on in their own communities.

Is it a memoir? Well, yes. The author, now middle-aged and single, recalls ex-husbands and other romances, incidents from childhood and other memories from her past.

It it a journal.? Again, yes. She goes month by month, sometimes day by day, through the year, describing what she observes around her.

Is it an art book? Yes, indeed. Almost every page contains her drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating whatever she is writing about, anything from ball gowns to stone walls to cats to thunderstorms.

You could also make the case that this is a book about natural history, sociology or fashion, among other things.

Swift gives each month a theme, but not necessarily the theme you might expect. She avoids focusing on holidays, for example. March makes her think about tea. In May she ponders gardens. November gives her the blues, so she writes about the color blue.

However one describes Vivian Swift's book, it provides a pleasant way to spend your time while you are staying put.

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