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The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World

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An ethereal meditation on longing, loss, and time, sweeping from the highways of Texas to the canals of Mars--by the acclaimed essayist and author of Shame and Wonder David Searcy's writing is enchanting and peculiar, obsessed with plumbing the mysteries and wonders of our everyday world, the beauty and cruelty of time, and nothing less than what he cal An ethereal meditation on longing, loss, and time, sweeping from the highways of Texas to the canals of Mars--by the acclaimed essayist and author of Shame and Wonder David Searcy's writing is enchanting and peculiar, obsessed with plumbing the mysteries and wonders of our everyday world, the beauty and cruelty of time, and nothing less than what he calls "the whole idea of meaning." In The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World, he leads the reader across the landscapes of his extraordinary mind, moving from the decaying architectural wonder that is the town of Arcosanti, Arizona, to driving the vast, open Texas highway in his much-abused college VW Beetle, to the mysterious, canal-riddled Martian landscape that famed astronomer Percival Lowell first set eyes on, via his telescope, in 1894. Searcy does not come at his ideas directly, but rather digresses and meditates and analyzes until some essential truth has been illuminated--and it is in that journey that the beauty is found.


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An ethereal meditation on longing, loss, and time, sweeping from the highways of Texas to the canals of Mars--by the acclaimed essayist and author of Shame and Wonder David Searcy's writing is enchanting and peculiar, obsessed with plumbing the mysteries and wonders of our everyday world, the beauty and cruelty of time, and nothing less than what he cal An ethereal meditation on longing, loss, and time, sweeping from the highways of Texas to the canals of Mars--by the acclaimed essayist and author of Shame and Wonder David Searcy's writing is enchanting and peculiar, obsessed with plumbing the mysteries and wonders of our everyday world, the beauty and cruelty of time, and nothing less than what he calls "the whole idea of meaning." In The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World, he leads the reader across the landscapes of his extraordinary mind, moving from the decaying architectural wonder that is the town of Arcosanti, Arizona, to driving the vast, open Texas highway in his much-abused college VW Beetle, to the mysterious, canal-riddled Martian landscape that famed astronomer Percival Lowell first set eyes on, via his telescope, in 1894. Searcy does not come at his ideas directly, but rather digresses and meditates and analyzes until some essential truth has been illuminated--and it is in that journey that the beauty is found.

38 review for The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    A collection of ethereal, esoteric ramblings, wandering through the years, through our world, through memories, he shares thoughts about finding our place, our longings for people, places and things that call our name and speak to our hearts. Seeing the world through our eyes, cameras and telescopes, science expanding our vision, and exploring the meanings of the loss that we’ve had along the way. The occasional longing to return, if not physically, to older, simpler times, to the innocence of t A collection of ethereal, esoteric ramblings, wandering through the years, through our world, through memories, he shares thoughts about finding our place, our longings for people, places and things that call our name and speak to our hearts. Seeing the world through our eyes, cameras and telescopes, science expanding our vision, and exploring the meanings of the loss that we’ve had along the way. The occasional longing to return, if not physically, to older, simpler times, to the innocence of those moments but with the wisdom gained that, like old friends, some are worth keeping, while others are best left behind. A literary passage to, hopefully, find our ...better self, our better, stranger selves out there somewhere… This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, and initially I wasn’t really sure how I would feel, but I fell into this as Alice fell down the rabbit hole, into a magical place. Once there, I didn’t want to leave. This journey is like most life-long ones, as way leads on to way, choices must be made. We aren’t limited to a single place, or a single idea, and he shares thoughts on places, science, art, telescopes, our terrestrial home, along with those moments of our lives that hold special meaning only through memories. Memories that become a part of who we were and who we become over time. Fond memories of other times, times of longing or that fuel a longing, and times of loss along with a recognition that time is both transient and dwindling. Published: 20 Jul 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Random House, and special thanks to Madison Dettlinger for pointing the way. #TheTinyBeeThatHoversattheCenteroftheWorld #NetGalley

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    She points. A tiny bee floats in that empty, ruined space. It’s absolutely still. It holds that space in place the way some hovering insects do as if obedient to, in reference to, some universal center. I can’t see it in my camera. “Higher, up, up, get it please.” She wants that bee. She’s almost frantic. There. I show her. Zoom it in. And there it is — in focus even, perfectly still within the empty, ruined window of the Meteorite Museum on the ruins of the road through our subconscious, in She points. A tiny bee floats in that empty, ruined space. It’s absolutely still. It holds that space in place the way some hovering insects do as if obedient to, in reference to, some universal center. I can’t see it in my camera. “Higher, up, up, get it please.” She wants that bee. She’s almost frantic. There. I show her. Zoom it in. And there it is — in focus even, perfectly still within the empty, ruined window of the Meteorite Museum on the ruins of the road through our subconscious, in the middle of the world and on and on as far as you like, on out as far as there are references. A dream of perfect stillness. I believe I’ve never seen her quite so happy. The publisher of The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World suggested I might like to read this, based on some of my past reviews, and so I downloaded an ARC without really looking too hard at what it is. And now that I’ve read it, I’m finding it pretty hard to describe just what this is: More one book-length essay than a collection of related essays, author David Searcy writes of the past, present, and future, the personal and the public, circling back to ideas, foreshadowing events that won’t be revealed for many chapters, finding meaning in the gaps and ellipses and those things that can only be glimpsed when we don’t look at them directly. In a later section, Searcy describes a project he had assigned himself — to view Mars nightly from his homemade backyard observatory and to make an inkwash drawing of what he sees, without thinking too much about it — and that’s what this entire book feels like: The eyes squinting skyward while the hand describes a circular smudge and meaning found in the distance between these acts. This is art, and as a reading experience, I was engaged and always interested in Searcy’s experiences, but can’t say that I always understood what he was making of it; but isn't that just like any art? (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) I love concentric tales. The drawing of the drawing or the drawing of the photograph. The stories drawn within each other — once you let the artifice become the ground, the whole idea of ground becomes the story, the excuse, and you can just keep on like that. Each tale, impression, becoming, as in The Thousand and One Nights, a ground, a desert even insofar as it permits that emptiness, that deep discontinuity between the layers. Exactly as the self gives up to find itself again, the meaning seems to arise in the gap, the glance away. A case, I hope, for being “scattered.” As an example of the formatting: The book begins with Searcy and his partner taking a trip to the once futuristic Arcosanti molded concrete hive community in the Arizona desert (and this chapter references, among many other ideas, the Lowell Observatory and Percival Lowell’s mistaken identification of canals on Mars), to a brief chapter describing the struggle of encouraging a small child to stay still long enough to look through a telescope, to a meditation on photography (which introduces a vintage photograph from the author’s mother’s collection, depicting a little girl on a swing who sounds an awful lot like the little girl imagined in the previous essay). Arcosanti, Lowell, Mars, and that photograph will be referred to again and again throughout the book — stories within stories; concentric tales — and despite all these impersonal details making up the bulk of The Tiny Bee, the whole serves as a revelatory and thoughtful memoir. The photographic process is so passive, so inevitable you’d think there must be similar, simple, natural intuitions, revelations all around us all the time. You think of shadows, mirrors, fossils. But these things, one way or another, do not separate from everyday experience — they’re not still or they’re not passive or not flat. They move with us. We move around them. Or they join the world’s activity as projections. They don’t fix and represent our observation. Even mirrors do not hold our looking up to us like that. If there were something like a photograph then it would be a photograph. A thing resembling knowing would be knowing. This seems to be a book about emptiness — Searcy frequently invokes alleys and vacant lots, the “kindergarten-landscape gap between the earth and sky”, the vacuum he imagines is at the center of living things — but he fills the empty spaces with nuance and significance. I still don’t know if I have satisfactorily explained what this book is, but it is the story of a life and all life; a piece of art that engaged me and that definitely made it worth my time. Rounding up to four stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    DAVID SEARCY, THE TINY BEE THAT HOVERS AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, RANDOM HOUSE Once you step inside David Searcy’s sentences, you will not want to leave: artful, Sebald-like, they are as far-reaching as the telescope he hauled out one autumn night in Texas when he showed me the moon. The pace of this philosophy/memoir/mediation/book-length essay is intentional, just like the one-fingered strokes of the typewriter he still uses to write with. He rolls his ideas and observations like marbles in a DAVID SEARCY, THE TINY BEE THAT HOVERS AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, RANDOM HOUSE Once you step inside David Searcy’s sentences, you will not want to leave: artful, Sebald-like, they are as far-reaching as the telescope he hauled out one autumn night in Texas when he showed me the moon. The pace of this philosophy/memoir/mediation/book-length essay is intentional, just like the one-fingered strokes of the typewriter he still uses to write with. He rolls his ideas and observations like marbles in a pocket, until they tumble out smooth and perfectly rounded, which is precisely how he speaks too, should you ever have the pleasure. The Tiny Bee is about everything, in that it’s a “accumulation of ideas toward what the future ought to look like.” On a more earthly plane, it’s about Texas, photography, Martian dust, art, the roads he takes and the ones he doesn’t, and the terrestrial both real and imagined. Even when he writes about fearful, existentialist things, he still makes us feel cozy, like nuzzling a wolf. If you couldn’t already tell, Searcy is one of my favorite writers—ever. When he writes about building The Mars Receiver (a device to receive signals from Mars, a gesture of hope rather than an actual functioning instrument), he turns a step-by-step tuitional into a work of art: “…first of all, it had to look good. Through my wintery, sad opacity of mind it had to glow. Give forth that clear, intuitive, radiant sense of functional intercessions. Get the faceplate . . . Establish that. The circular screen, the lights and toggle switches. Then attend to theory or whatever passes for it. One can always plead conceptual art, of course. Concept or not. But that’s not it. Start with a beautiful thing, then bring the angels to it.” If you have a soul, you will love this book and Searcy’s writing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Random House Publishing Group-Random House for an advanced copy of this collection of essays. This is my first time reading a collection by David Searcy which is good because The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World might be my new favorite collection of personal essays. The writing is sparse, in some places a good sigh might send them flying off the page. However, as you read, the words come together and the reader grasps what the essay is abou My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Random House Publishing Group-Random House for an advanced copy of this collection of essays. This is my first time reading a collection by David Searcy which is good because The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World might be my new favorite collection of personal essays. The writing is sparse, in some places a good sigh might send them flying off the page. However, as you read, the words come together and the reader grasps what the essay is about or what the reader wants to believe it is about. Time is a major theme, loss, of course but not in the usual sense. Loss in that things have changed, that he let them go to long and things can't be fixed, or even want to be fixed. So like an old trampoline in the backyard it rusts and breaks, while he stands there and watches it. There is also an essay on Betty Crocker that is quite amusing and she appears in other essays in the book, usually just a photo. You get the feeling that he prefers the old ways, but at the same time his essays on science show that he is not a man afraid of the unknown. Mr. Searcy's style is reminiscent of the English writer Geoff Dyer. Both use essays to describe the big issues, to tell the story of the world, and how the world is seen. Mr. Searcy takes awhile longer to get to there. Sometimes the reader might get lost on the way, but each essay is worth the travel and the trouble. Very different, very interesting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I don't like this thing. Thought I would, because I enjoy meandering cerebral nature loving sensual books. I was picturing an Annie Dillard type ramble. This feels sad and pointless. As a matter of fact, he hammers constantly at the pointlessness of everything even as he obsesses on small things. There's no sense of awe. He'll say things like, 'my wife, who would leave me soon' or, 'my neighbor, who would die in a year.'. He mentions regularly that he isn't religious. Neither am I. But this guy I don't like this thing. Thought I would, because I enjoy meandering cerebral nature loving sensual books. I was picturing an Annie Dillard type ramble. This feels sad and pointless. As a matter of fact, he hammers constantly at the pointlessness of everything even as he obsesses on small things. There's no sense of awe. He'll say things like, 'my wife, who would leave me soon' or, 'my neighbor, who would die in a year.'. He mentions regularly that he isn't religious. Neither am I. But this guy seems to need some faith. I haven't forced myself to finish yet. Perhaps there will be reason to return to this review and say: Ah! he's knit it all together and made something of his muddle! But I have no hope of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Soumya Rao

    Great book and a must read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lone Star Literary Life

    Reviewed by Chris Manno for Lone Star Literary Life. Reviewed by Chris Manno for Lone Star Literary Life.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Tresser

  9. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kirby

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maris

  14. 5 out of 5

    Danny

  15. 4 out of 5

    Isabel Mendia

  16. 4 out of 5

    M.G.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jakub Szestowicki

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Swong

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Wilde

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chrystal Hays

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Roppolo

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joaquin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michal Sventek

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  31. 4 out of 5

    Edward Benner

  32. 5 out of 5

    Zade

  33. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  34. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  36. 5 out of 5

    Carey

  37. 4 out of 5

    Felicity

  38. 5 out of 5

    Susan

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