Topic: "Run, old hare!"
"As he touched his spurs to the flank of his horse, the men surged forward, charging with him into the sheet of flame which blazed to meet them there among the blossoms letting fall their bright pink rain."
Frodo is very sensitive to any glorification of War. Shelby Foote however, described the Civil War as America's "Iliad," and he transfigured the people and the places into prose. He made the reader remember that these were once human beings who walked on our roads, smelled our roses, and tasted the water in our springs. Mr. Foote passed away yesterday at age 88 in his hometown of Memphis.
Shelby Foote came to the Shire on television with 89 appearances in the 1990 PBS documentary about the War. He wore a gray-and-silver beard , had sorrowful eyes, and held the grave countenance of a general who had seen too much. Listening to his description of an event, the reader could almost smell the pipe or the glass of bourbon staring back at him from the writer's table. He did not glorify War, he told its' anecdotes.
The sentence which opens this tribute described the bayonet charge into a peach orchard led by A.S. Johnston. Johnston was struck by a "minnie ball" and bled to death on the battlefield. Now go back and read that sentence again, then close your eyes. The fallen soldier in your minds' eye is a portrait painted there by Shelby Foote.
In a typical vignette, he told about a soldier in Pickett's Brigade who came across a rabbit as he entered the field. The rabbit scampered deep into the woods away from the Yankee guns on the far side of the open field. "Run, old hare! If I was an old hare, I'd run too," said the soldier. The soldier did not run and he died.
Frodo will miss Mr. Foote. Frodo always wanted to buy him a glass of bourbon, and to watch an episode of "As the World Turns," with him, which he watched every single writing day. His book, "The Civil War: A Narrative," took eleven years in composition, and it is twice as long as The Bible. In 1999, the book was named as "Number 15" in the list of the 20th century's 100 best works of nonfiction written in English. He wrote it in long hand, with an ink pen; at least 500 words every single day.
There is a bottle in the library. A taste will be appropriate. Frodo gave up smoke a long time ago, so he will close his eyes and see if he can remember the taste.