First, while I have you in suspense, a little backstory. Last summer, at the Great Writing Conference, in Bangor Wales, I got to hear Harrison Solow, writer, teacher, and relatively recent LA to Wales transplant, read part of her essay on the best kept secret in Wales, which would be published in the fall Agni Review and which, during the session, she still managed NOT to reveal (nor have I, yet).
“So, what IS the best kept secret in Wales?” I asked cheerfully during the question session at the end.
“You’ll find out when you read the Agni Review,” Ms. Solow replied coyly.
Now, the good news is, thanks to my husband’s dedicated support of literary publishing, we actually get the Agni Review. And the “issue where all is revealed,” arrived at our home last week.
Backing up a bit more. In her essay about the best kept secret in Wales, Harrison Solow commits a cardinal sin, at least in my mother’s eyes.
For years, growing up, my mother tried to temper my enthusiasm for life (and people wonder where my 11 year old gets his) by gently suggesting that, “if you build things up too much when you tell about them, people will invariably be disappointed.”
Well in her essay about the best kept secret in Wales, tenor Timothy Evans, (there, the cat’s out of the bag) Solow really laid it on thick. A humble mail carrier who’s studied with tenor masters and beat out lots of famous tenors you have heard of for international awards, Evans’ voice, according to the besotted Solow, guaranteed to invoke tears.
Please stop, cringed this tenor-lover as she read this nonetheless engaging essay, her mother’s voice echoing in the recesses of her mind. I just know I’m going to be disappointed if you keep going on like this, especially if I don’t cry when I hear him.
Yes, I am an amateur tenor lover, the kind real opera fanatics love to hate, who can usually be moved to tears with Nessun Dorma or Recondita Armonia. Having mourned, just recently, the great Pavarotti, I wasn’t sure I could be so moved by anyone else just yet.
But of course, dear reader, as you must be predicting by now, after I put the cd that came with the journal (go Agni!) in our stereo(go Agni review!) and listened to the first track, it’s true.
And so did Denise, over at the Newpages blog. So I’m not alone. Right now, there’s no way you can hear Mr. Evans unless you go out and buy a copy of the Agni Review or order a copy of it online. But I’m telling you–you won’t regret it.
I’m always telling you that, aren’t I? But really, it’s true.
Yes, Mom, I’m still overselling stuff. I can’t help it.
In other news, we were in Memphis last weekend for the St. Jude’s Marathon, which my husband ran for the third time! Now, true to my nervous nelly form, marathons in which my husband runs are always a source of worry for me. First, there’s just the idea of running twenty six miles for this non-runner (who’s no slouch-I do walk and enjoy a stationary bike 4x a week). Then there are all the medical disclaimers in the race materials about how it’s not their fault if you collapse during the race. And the ambulance parked at the finish line. Finally, there are all the joggers themselves, grimacing and hobbling over the finish line or collapsing in pain just after they cross it.
Needless, to say, a lot of prayers get offered up in our house in the weeks before a marathon. Silently, of course, because to do so out loud would be to insult our determined runner.
And then my husband, who trains fastidiously for months before (the secret to his success), crosses the finish line, grinning like crazy, looking for all the world like he could just keep on going.
And I wonder–what was it I so worried about?