Hi everyone, and welcome to The Sketch Blog! My wife Steph and I will soon be commencing a new phase of our life: we will be spending a large portion of our year in England, where I will be pursuing a Phd in English. In this blog, I’m planning to share anecdotes from our life and travels, as well as posts about books and writing and other things that interest me. I am hoping that this site will be yet another avenue by which we can stay in touch with family and friends. In this inaugural post, I’m going to write about the title of this blog and the classic book that inspired it.
In the years 1819 and 1820, American author Washington Irving serially published The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. While most contemporary readers are probably not familiar with the book as a whole, they probably are familiar with two of the stories contained within it: namely, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” In addition to these classic shorts and various other brief entertainments, the book offers numerous fictionalized essays by the pseudonymous Geoff Crayon, an American who has traveled extensively in England. In these essays, Mr. Crayon writes about many topics of interest, and he often writes about England and his experiences there. For these reasons, I thought that taking and adapting the title of The Sketch Book would be appropriate for my blog.
I have not yet finished reading The Sketch Book; I am reading it slowly, taking the time to enjoy each chapter. But based on what I have read – roughly three-quarters of the book – I absolutely love it. It’s just cool. First off, the title. It’s a book of literary “sketches” (short written pieces), and, according to the title, it was composed by a guy whose last name is Crayon. I mean, come on...Crayon. So Irving gets the punning and humor started right away. Some of the stories are indeed humorous, and some are more somber and thoughtful. Many are both. All of them (that I’ve read) are great. One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciate – and in our digital era, I doubt I’m alone – is the fact that the individual sketches are short and can be read in a single sitting. Of course, if you want to remain within the confines of a comfy chair for a while, you could read many of the sketches in a sitting. And in case you are interested, The Sketch Book, like many of the books I will probably be writing about, is public domain, so you can download it for free onto your computer or e-reader.
I hope that, in the future, this blog will afford what Geoff Crayon mentioned as a motivation for his writing in the opening passages of The Sketch Book: “the entertainment of my friends.”