Lee, Laurie. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. New York: Atheneum, 1969.
Reason read: the Madrid Festival in Spain (obviously) happens in May.
Confessional: Once again I am reading books out of order! Dammit, dammit, dammit. When I planned to read As I Walked Out I had no idea Cider with Rosie was the first book in a trilogy memoir. No clue! Pearl does not make mention of the connection even though Moment of War (the third and final book of the memoir) is also included in Book Lust To Go. As an aside, Cider is listed in the index of More Book Lust. Again, I did not make the connection.
Laurie Lee left home in England to find, at the very least, fame and fortune as a musician. With mixed emotions he found he could make a dime on street corners but had to supplement his income with other vocations like construction work before moving on to his next adventure. At the heart of his journey was discovery; as he put it, “I felt it was for this I had come: to wake at dawn on a hillside and look out on a world for which I had no words, to start at the beginning, speechless and without a plan, in a place that still had no memories for me” (p 54). Most of his discovery takes place in Spain. As an aside, I loved his description of Madrid as an old lion with broken teeth and bad breath. As I Walked Out… ends with Lee being escorted out of Spain by a British destroyer and yet by summer he was fixated on getting back to Spain to join the war.
Quotes that gave me pause, “I was affronted by freedom” (p 6), “Such a narrow gap between consent and dispute” (p 45) and “Halfway up, in a recess, a small pale child sat carving a potato into the shape of all doll, and as we approached, she turned, gave us a quick look of panic, and bit off its little head” (p 93). What’s that all about? One last quote, “Fear lay panting in the street like a dog” (p 219).
Author fact: Lee was the youngest of twelve in his family. But probably the most fascinating fact about LL is that he met his wife when she was five years old and neither could understand the other’s language (she French, he English).
Book trivia: As I Walked Out… was illustrated by Leonard Rosoman. One of my favorite illustrations is on page 50.
Nancy said: As I Walked Out… is included in a list of books about Spain Nancy said should be tried (p 220).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Spain” (p 218).