Uncial Press

The Uncial Letter

April 2020

Mary Patterson Thornburg says "Hello, Uncial Letter subscribers and readers!"

Feeling stuck in a rut? This "shelter in place" routine has a few upsides, all right--for instance, you don't really have to change clothes every day, do you? But the downsides are getting to many of us, for sure. I'm kind of a hermit by nature, but my extrovert friends are definitely suffering withdrawal symptoms, and even I am beginning to feel a bit of cabin fever.

But we all (well, those of us here right now) know one way to get out more without leaving the house, don't we? READ! "There is no frigate like a book," etc., as Emily Dickinson wrote (you can Google it, if you don't believe me). The publishers and book sellers know that, so I'll bet you're getting as many suggestions in your inbox every day as I am.

Okay, I'm going to give you some suggestions too--but not of any specific books. I'll even resist the temptation to name some of my own titles. I'm not trying to sell anything just now. Instead, here are some thoughts on how to make the most of all this new reading time:

Read authors and genres that make you feel good. You want to get out of the place you're in now into someplace you'll enjoy. YOU are the only one who knows where that is, and that place isn't the same for everyone, every day. Personally, if I'm living in la-la-land, I like a touch of horror to jar me out of the doldrums. But right now I've got plenty of anxiety in the real world, thank you. For some reason, my best choices these days have been British police procedurals. They involve me in fictional problems that are not my own. If you feel like reading something light and frothy, go for it. Historical romance? Silly comic novels? Intellectual challenges? Stephen King? It's up to you. Don't let anyone tell you what you should read. Read whatever floats your boat. It's important to keep your boat afloat!

Read what you've put off because there was never time. There's time now, so take advantage of it. No, that doesn't mean I'm finally going to finish Moby Dick. The reason I've never finished it has nothing to do with its length--it's because I've tried to get through it at least a dozen times, and (confession time) I just don't like it. That's not going to change. Sorry, Professor Satterwhite. Sorry, Mr. Melville.

But I may just give War and Peace another whirl…

Read an old favorite. I've always been a re-reader, so much so that once in a while I've felt sort of embarrassed about it. I'm also a slow reader, which means that I could have read twice as many good books in my life as I actually have. At least twice as many. But now I'm going for good times, and one of the things about re-reading an old favorite is that I know which ones will be good times. Another advantage is that most of these books are already somewhere in this house and it won't cost a cent to look for them. A third advantage--maybe you already know this--is that if it's been a long time since you're read one of these favorites, you'll find you've changed enough yourself for the book to change. It's like discovering a new favorite!

Take a chance! If you're one of those readers who never tries anything new, try it now. Hey, you may find yourself with a whole new world to conquer!


Maybe Mary won't advise you to read some of her stories, but we will. If you like complex stories set in alternate realities, you will find hers perfect. They are all about interesting people, have plenty of excitement, and happen in a world that's convincingly real. In A Glimmer of Guile and Vivia, Waking, set in a world where magic is real, follow Vivia as she discovers and learns to live with her power. The Kura and its spinoff, Battle Royal, take place in a troubled world just one step away from ours, entered by magical doorways only a few are able to find and enter. Even better, in The Kura and A Glimmer of Guile, the love stories are just part of the magic.

A Glimmer of Guile by Mary Patterson Thornburg Vivia Waking by Mary Patterson Thornburg The Kura by Mary Patterson Thornburg Battle Royal by Mary Patterson Thornburg

Her other stories are as different from one another as they can be. Into a Distant Light gives a glimpse into what happens after a legendary--and feared--monster disappears...or seems to. A young girl's attempt to grow up too fast awakens a lingering--and vengeful--spirit to threaten a Halloween party in Ghosts. And for a complete change of pace, visit the planet Moz, where an annual celebration's highlight is Eating Bugs.

Into a Distant Light by Mary Patterson Thornburg Ghosts by Mary Patterson Thornburg Eating Bugs by Mary Patterson Thornburg

Next month we'll have another of Linda Palmer's Psy Squad stories for you. Is RJ's position in the Mind Studies Branch of WSL really a Dream Job? Or a threat to her life?

Stay safe, stay well.

Jude & Star