Parade’s End: Essays

Sam Pickering, Author

Parade’s End is a collection of familiar essays. The author comes from the generation in which girls read books about horses, and boys, about dogs, and his prose is old-fashioned and marvelously clear. He is a meanderer, and Parade’s End celebrates the passing drift of days and the quiet miracles of living. Trees bud, snow falls, and Christmas blooms green and red with joy and happiness. As Time passes, acquaintances vanish.

In these essays the author cruises the Adriatic and the Caribbean, he summers on a farm in Nova Scotia, receives an honorary degree in Tennessee, and roams the fields and woods of Eastern Connecticut. During his travels he meets many improbable people, most of whom exist. However, he follows the advice of Oscar Wilde and does not degrade truth into facts. Amid the bony ruins of Olympia, a man says, “All in all, I prefer the Alamo.”

The sweet bird of youth left the author’s shoulder long ago, and the author writes about the pleasures of aging. He refuses to sink into an armchair and wait for himself or others to die. Time, of course, brings changes. Every day the author runs six miles. Recently as he was “whizzing along,” a man standing beside the road said, “I can’t run any more either.” “You will die jogging,” his wife Vicki said last month, “in full stride or in the middle of one of the tip-toeing steps you call running. The battery in your pace-maker will spring a leak, and you will be short-circuited.” Vicki then laughed and laughed. For a moment the author frowned, but then he laughed, for PARADE’S END is a remarkably bright book. At times the band saunters out of tune, but that is the way things are–some moments blare and others are melodious. No matter the air, though, this book is a rich concert of high-stepping fun and thought.

Parade's End [Essays] book cover