Jeffrey Koterba
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Buy *Inklings: A Memoir* by Jeffrey Koterba online

Inklings: A Memoir
Jeffrey Koterba
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
272 pages
November 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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I've been thinking about this book for two days. I can't exactly say when the last time was I spent two consecutive days preoccupied with any book I've read. There have been others, I know, but few and far between. In those books I've made notes in the margins, or dog-eared pages to be reread. From others I've harvested ideas for essays on aspects of my own life. And from others I've gleaned lists of books or topics for follow-up. It's that way with Inklings, though I'm not as inclined to disturb the pristine pages with my notetaking, or crease the corners. I didn't want anything to detract from the sense that I have simply read a wonderfully human story that I would highly recommend others to read, though I'm disinclined to loan them my copy.

I knew long before I read the final line on page 262 that I was going to be in trouble when it came time to write this review. "What possibly can I add to this?" Inklings is simply a wonderful and genuine and worthwhile book. The author's style is clean and direct. It is glaringly obvious from the start that in addition to Koterba's artistic and musical gifts, he has been blessed with the gift of insight, so necessary to good writing, possessed by too few. There is no sense of spitefulness in his memoir, as so often exists in others. Koterba has told his story, and that of his family, with frankness, but also with compassion for their humanness. One almost feels a part of the family.

I'm kicking myself, though not too hard, as I pen this review. I'm going to have to reread the book, not an unpleasant task to be sure. I cannot find the line I hoped to quote here. Koterba's words struck me at the time as being quite encouraging. I wanted to write them on a note card and tape them to the wall in front of my desk. The spirit of them are still with me, but the words in the right sequence are missing. I am annoyed at myself. I repeated the words to myself several times when I read them, hoping to make them stick to my sometimes sieve-like memory. I think they are at or near the top of a page somewhere. I should have underlined them, scribbled down the page number, dog-eared the page, but I was so sure I would remember them and now they're lost.

My penance, I suppose, for exhibiting too much confidence. Memories are fleeting, except for Koterba's. He's got a firm grasp on his, and lucky for us that he does.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Susan Cronk, 2010

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