Hi, Hello, Howdy!
My name is Sable Quinn, I’m the newest edition to Star Cat Books! I’m currently pursuing a BA in English Literature, hopefully then moving on to obtain my MA next. I own two cats, Ari and Edgar, and an eight month old puppy, Padraic, who’s not necessarily a puppy anymore! I actually grew up coming in to Star Cat with my grandmother; ten years later and here I am as Nancy’s newest bookseller and website contributor! I will be sharing my book reviews right here on the Star Cat website, so stay tuned:))
Notes from the Porch, Thomas Christopher Greene. Rootstock Publishing, February 20, 2024. 130 pp.
Review on Thomas Christopher Greene’s Notes from the Porch, a collection of essays from the pandemic that not only helped Greene survive the pandemic with his sanity intact but also helped himself and others through some of the lowest of the lows. Release date: February 20, 2024.
Sable’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’ll tell you my secret. I’m not the biggest fan of reading nonfiction. I am no scholar. I am simply a girl who reads fiction. However, something about Thomas Christopher Greene’s Notes from the Porch had my attention in a chokehold.
Maybe it’s this nonsensical idea of the future and love that his essays were able to connect and relate with my reader’s brain. The entire book, after reading it and sitting with the stories and his voice for a few days, just emanated a house that is filled with warmth like the peak of the sun when you’re tanning. The entirety of your skin feels freshly baked and incredibly good, filled with laughter that makes your abdominal muscles clench with pain the day after, filled with a love that wraps around your entire being – his book embodies the sense of what home feels like.
Thomas Christopher Greene, you, sir, have compiled one hell of an essay collection. A pandemic essay collection, no less. The undertone that is present throughout each of his essays, the soul that lives in these stories, is love. He expertly weaves an all-encompassing sense of whole and genuine love within each essay. It’s as if this man has a prized custom-carved loom that weaves all of his gorgeous tales for him.
I adored the essays that Greene picked to include in Notes from the Porch. Unfortunately, a girl has to leave some of the mystery for you to uncover yourself. Alas, I will only share and discuss my sappy thoughts, big feelings, and outrageous opinions regarding my top two favorite essays with you, just to give you a little taste of the magic.
I’m going to start with our runner-up, a very close second-place recipient: “Strangers.” I am particularly attached to the balance of descriptors that help the audience orient themselves with our setting (i.e. warm enough to work on the porch, having our setting be the infamous porch, the neighborhood of old Victorians, downtown Montpelier, VT, a “front porch culture,” women pushing strollers, our former garden designer, our favorite neighborhood boy, etc) and his setting scene for a smooth inclusion of his thesis. Within this particular essay of his, he is reminiscing and sharing with us his memory of witnessing two older strangers basking in the spontaneity of life and two souls finding one another again.
These two older runners, the man with the thick gray hair and the brunette woman, both of whom are running a route that passes by Greene’s porch, are both running a relatively fast past. Suddenly, they both stop dead in front of each other in the middle of their supposed paths, almost as if the world stopped right then and there with them. They embrace in a quick but passionate kiss before they break apart and resume their separate journeys.
All the while, Greene has been witnessing this encounter with a front-row seat on his porch. He cannot let go of the strangeness of this situation he has just witnessed, wondering if they somehow knew each other and coincidentally ran into one another or if they were strangers and it was meant to be kismet. His curiosity gets the best of him as he shouts after them, ‘I thought you were strangers!’
To which both the man with the thick gray hair and the brunette woman responded, ‘We are!’
This became my runner-up because not only does Greene’s writing translate into this beautiful poetry that will affect and inspire thousands of people across the world, spreading a little good at a time. However, Greene helps show his audience that love is everywhere, no matter who these two characters were in their current lives, their souls recognized one another. Soulmates in another life who happened to run upon each other and pause the world for one second to be able to connect, even ever so briefly.
What interpretations did you get from “Strangers?”
My champion, my favorite essay of the entire collection: ‘Regret.’ I believe that this particular essay is one where Greene excelled the most with his craft. His gorgeous way with words transported me directly into the scene he painted. I can feel the faint artificial cool breeze from the fridge door leaning open, I can hear the addictive crooning of the Bahamas playing from his phone ‘I’m lost in the light/I pray for the night/To take me, to take you too…” I can so clearly watch Greene and this willowly, beautiful, brunette looking as if their two bodies were sinking into one. Ever so slowly, they sway to the beat right where the sharp fridge light with a hint of yellow melts with the stark white moonlight on the hardwood in the kitchen.
Greene stealthily coats his words in grief, heartbreak, and longing. As you read, his words emanate the pain we experience alongside these two slow-dancing in the kitchen. Pain because their love is showing the audience the right person, wrong time, type of love. A tragic situation of two beings barely missing each other in their lifetimes.
Whenever “Lost in the Light” by Bahamas pops up on my Spotify now, I will always think of Greene’s gorgeous essay, “Regret,” and the art of dancing in the dark, with only the refrigerator light shining on things we take for granted.
I hope I helped you gain a vivid idea of what a fantastic literary voice Thomas Christopher Greene has revealed in his latest work. His latest collection of essays, Notes from the Porch, is a collection of essays that he wrote during the worst of the pandemic that helped him and others survive and cope. These short essays will make your heart jump with joy, make your inner child laugh, and make a tear or two escape at least once. Greene created a great work that is sometimes nostalgic, sometimes brings forth great memories, helps you remember to see the good in people, and also helps you feel a little bit better about the world. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did!
Notes from the Porch, a collection of essays by Thomas Christopher Greene, will be released on February 20, 2024! Greene might be familiar if some of you have read and/or heard of his award-winning book: The Headmaster’s Wife. Feel free to use our Star Cat Books Bookshop to order your copy of Notes from the Porch or The Headmaster’s Wife. Enjoy it curled up with a steaming cup of your favorite coffee (or tea! I don’t judge!). My favorite coffee is a hot hazelnut (or maple if I’m feeling adventurous) oat milk latte. Curl up with your favorite beverage, grab the warmest cat, and enjoy this lovely read! Let me know which essay ends up being your favorite!