Book Review: “Where is This Music Coming From?” by Mariel Kinsey

Last modified: 10/28/2015 8:17:20 PM
BOOK REVIEW: “Where is This Music Coming From?” by Mariel Kinsey (Wandering Word Press, 217 pages, $15)

I once knew a film director who believed that the best films — the films that come closest to perfection — are always short ones.

I was reminded of his belief while reading the two-page (or occasionally three-page) musings in “Where is This Music Coming From?” by Mariel Kinsey of Ashfield. Short essays can be works of art as much as long-form books, as Kinsey demonstrates.

Her brand-new book brings together monthly essays she wrote for the Ashfield News from 2005 through 2014. These pieces address a variety of topics, from the weather to the church calendar to individuals she knows to global events.

At their best — and most of the time — they juxtapose those topics, for Kinsey likes to draw the reader’s attention to the links between events, people, emotions and intentions. She writes with heart, humor and wit.

In one of my favorite essays she explains that she intended to spend that month’s pages discussing her happy new small dog but was sidelined by a weekend symposium about the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

She leads the reader through a process in which she clearly almost started to feel guilty about the pleasure she took in the dog and then went on to realize that happiness in Ashfield was not inconsistent with empathy for suffering in the Middle East.

She writes profoundly, “Because we really are all connected, anyone’s joy in anyone’s situation is an act of hope and Life. It becomes a powerful act of resistance to injustice. When we are able, we MUST allow Joy.” The book is full of similar wise gems.

“Where is This Music Coming From?” features a new introduction in which Kinsey explains the book’s title and talks briefly about how she came to write for the Ashfield News. Part of me wishes that she had added a longer, concluding essay in which she summed up her life and her writings.

Happily, most of me is very happy with the book as it is. Its form invites readers to dip in a little at a time and reflect on life with this smart, committed woman. It’s hard to resist a writer who can use applesauce as a metaphor for life and the work we put into it.

Mariel Kinsey will read from her book on Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield and on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Tyler Memorial Library in Charlemont.

Copies of her books may also be purchased at the Ashfield Fall Festival or from the author by mail at 15 Norton Hill Road, Ashfield, MA 01330. (Checks should be made out to Mariel Kinsey for $19; includes $15 price of book plus $4 for postage and handling.)

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In other book news, Leslie Brooks of Colrain will read from her new book “Soul Writer” on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield. The book discusses her ongoing self-exploration and is also available locally at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” Visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com.




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