Monday, November 26, 2007

Promises To Keep

Right now I'm reading a book from my biography section called Promises to Keep: A Family Close-up by William E. Walsh. It is not his memoir as such, but that of his family considered as an organic entity. The story begins in 1929 with their first date and was published in 1953 by which time they had 13 children, whose names and birthdates are listed at the beginning of the volume under the heading, “By The Same Author.”

The author writes about himself and his family the third person and so it took me a little while to realize that he was actually the “Bill” of the narrative. (Okay, so I’m not at my brightest when I’m home sick.)

The father had a large collection of books -- though he sometimes resorted to selling them when money was particularly tight. I wanted to share the following quotation. The parents are counting their blessings and the father comes to the conclusion that though many blessings are seasonal in nature, their books are permanent blessings.

But the books are constant companions, enlargers of the human experience. They are the autobiography of the family of man. They are not possesions, they are defiance.

. . .They are the great rebels against stupidity, parochialism, injustice, dullness, indifference, and blindess. They are defiance against mediocrity, because each book is a sharp awareness of personal experience, an individual savoring of the meat and drink of existence. They are flavored with the intimate moments of man’s best and surest living. Books are, like fear, the beginning of wisdom, because, like fear, they remind us of mortality and awaken in us the deep longing to live well while we have ‘world enough and time.’

. . . and I want the kids to like books, too, so they’ll know that the fight isn’t hopeless and that other men have faced every problem they will have to face, and solved it. (p. 118-119)

I hope that's what our children picked up from being exposed to their parents' love of books.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if this is a book written by a family member. May I ask who it is dedicated too? One of my family members wrote a book called Promises or a promise to keep (not sure which) tks

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

The book is dedicated to Monsignor Michael E. Doherty. I hope this helps.

Levi M. said...

Would you be interested in selling this book? I am a great-grandson of the author, and I am trying to collect as many of these as I can. Thanks.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Levi M.,

I'm so sorry, but I'm afraid I really do want to keep my copy of this book. However, I just checked at www.bookfinder.com and there seem to be quite a few copies available. Just put the author's name and the title into their search box.

By the way, you might also be interested to know that an essay by William Walsh, "The Young Familiar Faces," appears in Be Not Solicitus: Sidelights on the Providece of God and the Catholic Family which was published in 1953 by Sheed & Ward. The book was edited by Maisie Ward

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