Praise for Nathaniel Purple
Nathaniel Pu rple, librarian, lover, and volunteer fireman, is a man of many sources. He muses his way among Musil, Swendenborg, Balzac, Thoreau and Rabelais as easily as the Bible, Shakespeare and the town’s Chamber of Commerce brochure. F.D Reeve catalogs the different ways in which memories of things read and things lived intrude on familiar conversations. Here is a love story of man and woman growing up together, of man and horse in silent appreciation of nature, of man and dog getting drunk together, of man reigning over and tending his cows.
This Vermont Grade A Medium Amber eclogue is full of flavor, and not only the sweetness of long love and living close to nature. In juxtapositions of the events of a small town and the classics from its library we discover the bawdy, the bucolic and the tragic. Parts of the story are almost pure dialog, thrusting us into the local diner and pub where we remain outsiders, ignorant of the village’s complex history but immersed in its voices. We recognize the village vices: land greed, sexual envy, blind rage, spite; and are a bit surprised, along with Nathaniel, to meet its virtues of tolerance, kindness, and humor.
Reeve’s poetic powers of description convey the transition from the freshness of something seen anew, like “scarlet, mandarin and translucent canary maple leaves” to those same leaves gone sour after a flash of anger, “curled brown, red and yellow.” He gives us the town’s odors: sacks of grain in the general store are “astringent, not sour, as if sunlight were being released.” “The morning’s fresh manure still gave off a hint of molasses.” Our narrator slides through the seasons from funeral to dancehall, from ruffians and fisticuffs to a kind of divine retribution, vividly colored and scored, in an astonishing eight page scene of a barn burning. Nathaniel Purple speaks of his library as an observatory and, finally, as a treasury, as is this book.
– Meredith Bergmann, poetry editor of The American Arts Quarterly
Praise for F. D. Reeve’s work:
“This is a beautiful book, first and last and in between.”
–Richard Wilbur on The Toy Soldier
“One of America’s most gifted and individual poets.”
–Robert Giroux on The Blue Cat
“A cool, dispassionate contemplation of eternalities.”
–Anthony Hecht on The Urban Stampede
“There is a sheen over the world, a verbal surface containing wide life, giving prolonged pleasure.”
–Richard Eberhart on Concrete Music