Serpent Box, a novel by our own Vincent Louis Carrella, who writes a column for Stone Voices, has been on my reading pile for a few years now. Earlier this month, while getting ready to head out to spend a few weeks in the north Maine woods, I snatched it from its temporary resting place and put it in my bag. It was a great decision.
The book is a gem. I love a book with a soul, a book whose words wrap themselves around me in a tight embrace and won’t let go, a book that greets me in the morning while I’m sipping tea, and a book that provides me with my last thoughts before falling asleep for the night. Serpent Box has a soul. Here's a snippet:
Baxter once said that a man in the woods was about the purest thing there was in the world, and the closest he could come to knowing God. A man can never buy with money this thing that the Lord gave him for free, he said. That sense of awe and respect one derives from the trees and the earth and all things that dwell in between them. He told Jacob that poetry was all around him, in the grass and on the surface of the leaves, and that the Bible was full of good words designed to mimic what could never be written, but could sometimes be heard and always seen—the rising water, the falling rain, the rush of river and wind, the passage of cloud banks and great ruminant herds, buffalo and elk and the trailing packs of carnivores, both man and wild dog, wanderers all, in endless migration to the grasslands that feed them. He told them that magic is neither myth nor mystery but that which cannot be explained or understood—which is how the world was and should always be. There’s magic in a caterpillar, he told him, and in an acorn and behind the stars. His ancestors had understood this. They worshipped the forest as some white men worship God He had only come to know and love God through time spent in the woods . . . .