Bill Moeller Commentary: Critique of a Critic and Other Things


All I can say about the start of this column is “Look out! Crochetyman is on the loose again!”

First, though, a brief summary of why this is happening.

I’ve been receiving copious requests lately to subscribe to upscale magazines. I confess that two of them — Harper’s and Smithsonian — have succeeded. Smithsonian is heavy on what is — or has been — happening to the world for the last couple of centuries while Harper’s seems to concentrate on the intelligence, or the suspected lack of it in its readership.

My first issue of Harper’s contains three book reviews, the first of which, “The Writing Life of Evan S. Connell,” is spread over five pages. And it’s a book that came out 63 years ago! The other is “To Paradise,” a new 720-page book by Hanya Yanagihara, the critique of which takes up six pages.

Now, the similarity between the two books is that there’s not much reason to actually buy and read either of them since they’ve been so thoroughly torn apart and examined, leaving little space for one’s own opinion.

I mention all of this because what little I read about the first one mentioned in Harper’s review intrigued me to the extent that I stopped reading the magazine’s version and went online to see if the Timberland Library system has the book in stock.

It does, but a check of the shelves in the Centralia’s library was not fruitful. I mentioned this to the lady at the counter and she picked up the phone, called the Chehalis library which, “saints be praised,” still has it. Within minutes, I was on my way south to pick it up. Now I’m not a rapid reader so that evening and most of the next day were spent in the seat of my lift chair — a gift from my daughter that is second only to her actual presence when she can fly here from Georgia.

What I had found in the magazine was a column written about the author of the book and not a rehash of the plot itself. And that alone kept my interest up, but there was one facet that could have spoiled the whole thing.

As I recall now, the book consists of a total of 107 chapters, ranging from a dozen or so lines to, perhaps, five or six pages. On the surface that would be deemed ostentatious by most readers but, in my opinion, it worked in this case. The plotting itself could use some help in my mind because it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for a father who works six and a half days a week as an attorney, a mother who manages to get by with only two servants (a cook and a housemaid) and a son who builds a tower on an empty lot. But the book never says why.

Enough of that.

Are you as bored with life around you as much as I am these days? Major blame has to be the weather as I sat down to write this. Sure, we had a couple of days that were sunny, but still too cold to get the garden ready for spring.

Oh, I’ve been able to pull out three of the many patches of weeds that have assumed control of the flower beds around my home, but I haven’t done a thing to the small patch I set aside each year for peas, rhubarb, acorn squash, oregano and rosemary — except to stand there while my son replaced some the roofing panels of the greenhouse that collapsed under the weight of the recent snow.

So life continues to roll along, doesn’t it? And with the “plague” and Ukraine and politics, maybe just thinking about weeding and planting a new crop is just what we need?


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at