Tuesday Morning Review

The Rant D’Jour is about the Lowe’s Home Improvement Store opening in 2007 in Edwardsville. I still prefer my little local hardware store.

Sometimes the simple
things in life are the best. Maybe more often than not. If you had told…more


Blog Post for Tuesday 3/15/11 – 21 degrees but I have a promise from all the weather guys that it will go to 60 this weekend. And..Sunday is Spring.

Tuesday Morning Review

Seasons In Upper Turkeyfoot – A Countryman’s Journal

Jeff O’Brien


This book is what the listings in E bay would classify in the peculiar shorthand acronym that you use in the headline as “OOP.”

I wondered what that meant for a long time until I actually started selling books and found out it was shorthand for Out Of Print.

I have a suspicion that the print run of this work by a syndicated (but where? more in a moment) columnist who resides in the mountains of Pennsylvania was not very large. I had to search quite while to even find Mr. O’Brien’s name on the internet.

Memory fails me but if it is working correctly O’Brien was syndicated to one of the local newspapers in the 90’s which is where I would have become acquainted with him.

I liked O’Brien’s style enough to try and copy it. I think I have managed to do so in some ways without plagiarisms.

O’Brien writes short, spare, almost poetic passages. He also appends the stories in this book with pen and ink drawings of flora and fauna which although not identified as his, most certainly must be. They, like his writing style, are spare. Unadorned. Accurate.

The book is a very good read for a cold fall or winter day, snuggled under the comforter. O’Brien talks a lot about that sort of day in the book, but he also celebrates nature in a lyrical fashion.

He spins tales of everyday life in the country. The passing of the seasons. He brings to life the smallest of details with a keen eye and an unabashed sentimentality.

Two examples- excerpts from the first and last entries.

Spring Training

Two young men lie in the outfield sunning themselves like old dogs.

It is 42 degrees, and the ground is still frozen beneath the dead grass. Yet there they lie, propped on their elbows, coatless, ballcaps backwards, teenagers.

I am returning form the woods where I sat against an oak and considered existence, where brittle leaves clattered above me and crows echoed deep in the valley as the sun swung westward and the hills softened in the blue distance.

Last Snow

Sit with me awhile. I’ve built a fire inside the cabin. Let us sit on the porch a minute and watch the snow fall against the dark trees, fine and slow.

Pull up that chair with it’s wicker unraveling. Wrap yourself in this wool blanket. Yes, yes, you have work to do. It shows.

But just sit for a minute, away from the jangling phone, away from ambition.

So O’Brien is a syndicated columnist. For the life of me I cannot see that he is currently doing that. In the past his tracks are on the Daily American, Somerset, Pa. (He won 3rd place in a 1986 contest for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists) the Westsylvania Magazine
the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. None of these seem to carry him now.

I did find this blog:

Seasons in Upper Turkeyfoot

Five Minutes of Peace in a Loud World

and it was updated today. It has O’Brien’s poetry, interwoven with some beautiful photography, which, like the illustrations in the book are uncredited. There is no contact information on the blog.

I once wrote to James Lee Burke. I told him how much I loved his writing and hoped to be 10 percent as good.

He wrote me back. Said to keep at it.

I wish I could do the same with Mr. O’Brien.

Wonder what he would tell me?


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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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