Drawing on his friendship with poet Robert Lax (1915–2000) and his close readings of Lax’s writings, McGregor eloquently offers the definitive biography of a too often forgotten figure who influenced a number of writers and crafted spirituality out of his deep commitment to love, poverty, and justice. McGregor deftly and briefly chronicles Lax’s childhood in Olean, Penn. His family eventually moved to New York City, but not before the circus came to Olean and mesmerized the young Lax—with its performers who are “portals to the land of dusk”—so deeply that he traveled with a circus through western Canada in 1949 and wrote a cycle of poems that grew out of his experience and love. By the fall of 1943, Lax had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, inspired by his readings of Thomas Aquinas’s writings and by his ongoing discussions with Thomas Merton, whom Lax had met at Columbia University. Following his conversion, Lax embraced a life of poverty, combining his lack of desire for things with a passion for nurturing a love for those on the fringes of society. This detailed biography from a friend of subject is best for those already interested in Lax’s mission. The book effectively brings to life Lax’s “pure act”—naturally living out his God-given abilities without becoming mired in judging others. (Sept.)
I heard footsteps on the cabin deck yesterday and looked up to see the UPS deliveryman holding out a package. Inside were two copies of Pure Act: my first look at the actual book. It’s beautiful–and that’s not just this author’s humble opinion. When my editor saw it, he called it “stunning–breathtaking, really.” I hope others like it as much as those of us who have worked on it. If you’ve pre-ordered it, your copies should be arriving soon.
My first reading is up here at the library on Lopez Island at 1 p.m., next Saturday, August 29. Another good reason to visit the San Juans! Next up will be a reading at the Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, WA, at 6:30 on Friday, September 4, and then our Seattle launch at the University Bookstore on the Ave at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 5. Please see my “Talks” page for other upcoming readings. I hope to see you at one of them!