Friday, November 09, 2007

The Best Day the Worst Day

Poet Donald Hall’s The Best Day the Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon chronicles his twenty-three year marriage to the poet Jane Kenyon. The book has a pattern of a chapter on a period of their marriage followed by a chapter of Jane’s struggle with leukemia, which ultimately takes her life. This pattern continues throughout the book, so you are going back and forth in time. It is beautifully executed.

At times, however, I asked myself, “Why am I reading this?” The discussion of Jane’s leukemia is told with meticulous detail. We hear about operations, hospital visits, medications, and treatments. The book even followed me into my sleep. One night I woke up from a nightmare where I was telling my husband I had leukemia. After that experience, I considered no longer reading it, but I continued on.

Although this is a difficult book to get through, it is also a work of art. From reading it, we discover love in its purest form. We see compassion, service, companionship, and a desire to live. We are also permitted to view the inner workings of a marriage between two poets, which is something of a fairytale.

Highly recommended!


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