The Book of Memories
A Feature Review of
Everlasting is the Past: A MemoirWalter Wangerin, Jr.
Paperback: Rabbit Room, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Joe Krall
*** Read our interview with
Walter Wangerin, about this book.
A lonely, despairing graduate student walks and walks out into the countryside till he finds himself before a flock of sheep grazing, placid and content. He is filled with rage, wanting nothing more than to run at them, scare them into stumbling – until a farmer steps out of the woods, makes a “nickering sound in his throat,” and leads the sheep away. The student is alone once more.
“The sight of the sheep had broken my soul. I said, ‘I want to be a sheep.’”
So prays Walter Wangerin, Jr., in his memoir Everlasting is the Past (Rabbit Room, 2015). There are many beautiful passages in this book, but as for me, this short passage, in its lyricism, in its precision (“nickering” – what a fine adjective!), in its poignancy and spiritual power, is by far my favorite. In our recent interview with him, Wangerin mentioned that he had been thinking about “the episode with the sheep” for a long time. His thoughtfulness shows: the passage, jewel-like in its beauty, caught me on first reading, and reflected its light on what comes before and comes after.