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Tag Archives: non-fiction

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini in her novel Unbroken “is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.”

The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days.  Borne by an equatorial current, they had floated at least one thousand miles, deep into Japanese-controlled waters.

I miss Molly Ivins (a snippet from one of her books)

How I miss reading Molly Ivin’s column!

Excerpt from Molly Ivin’s book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You.

Heart attacks, grand juries, DWI’s, divorces–this isn’t a story, it’s a saga.  Of course there is a different between [Bob] Bullock in his drinking days and Bullock today–he’s not quite a different person, but he sure is easier.  He went off to “Whiskey School” in California in 1981.  Six weeks later he returned to Austin in the middle of the night, sober and alone.  Only one person came out to the airport to meet him–Ann Richards.  He has never forgotten that kindness.

Just a couple of stories from the drinking years: One night Bullock and pal Nick Kralj (Bullock used to have any number of reprehensible friends) got bad drunk, went into the basement of Kralj’s nightclub, and proceeded to shoot roaches with pistols.  They claimed it took great skill.

On another occasion, one of Bullock’s early wives kicked him out of the house, presumably for good cause.  So he went to crash with his friend Carlton Carl, who was himself out drinking.  Unable to get into Carl’s apartment, Bullock crawled into the backseat of Carl’s car, which was parked in an alley, got under a blanket, and passed out there.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t Carl’s car, just looked like it.  When Bullock came to the next morning, he was being driven along I-35 by a total stranger who had no idea anyone was in the backseat.  After pondering his options, Bullock sat up and said to the unsuspecting citizen, “Hi there, I’m Bob Bullock, your secretary of state.”  Poor guy almost drove off the road.

Finders Keepers

If you have not been to the McKee ‘dig’  in Seguin, take a trip out there and learn about all of the artifacts that have been (and are being) found on this property.  It is amazing.

Michael Cary wrote about this find in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise June 17, 2008:

SEGUIN — Local archeologist Robert “Bob” Everett paid a visit Thursday morning to an excavation site where hundreds of arrowheads, spear points and other Native American artifacts were recently uncovered along the banks of the Guadalupe River.

“This is the richest archeological site I’ve seen on the Guadalupe River in 35 years,” said Everett, a steward with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Archeological Stewardship Network.

Craig Childs writes “with lyrical grace” about searching for relics.  Finders Keepers is a Great Read.

From Child’s book:

“It is a job.  Workers go out and dig.  They pull up every artifact they find.  Perfectly legal and not entirely academic, it is a workingman’s science.  Plats and blueprints tell where to excavate.  Practitioners are known as “salvage” or “rescue” archaeologists.  In information circles, they call themselves “shovel bums,” toiling through cities and along pipelines, where they remove all pertinent archaeology in the way of development.

“There is a growing demand for this particular brand of archaeologist.  Backhoes are digging up slave cemeteries and ancient pagodas, forcing cities to cough up their dead, and somebody has to deal with it.  Roman burials are cropping up in London while archaeologists in downtown Miami ponder a circle of postholes that were cut into bedrock a couple of thousand years ago, doing so on behalf of a frustrated developer who has been planning luxury condominiums for this spot.  After thousands of years of traffic, a marketplace in Cairo recently revealed a temple containing a four-ton statue of Ramses II that had been right under people’s feet.  Even in the slums of Mexico City, pieces of the fallen Aztec Empire keep showing up.  In 2006, construction work exposed a thirteen ton stone carving of an earth goddess, and when salvage archaeologists went in they discovered it was topping the tomb of an Aztec emperor.  This could be the biggest discovery in Mexican history, as they dig through the city’s wet,mucky foundations to find it.”

“. . . In his essay on whether we can actually harm the dead, Geoffrey Scarre of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Durham, England, wrote, ‘Whilst a bone may be no more animate than a stone, it is the relic of a man or woman who once thought and felt, was happy and sad, loved and feared as we do.  To disinter or disturb it, or to subject it to chemical or physical analysis, is to take a liberty–not with the thing itself but with the person to whom it once belonged.’ “

snippets from books


. . . Subsequently the tabloids made much of our different backgrounds, the working-class Jewish boy from the East End and the Catholic aristocrat with her title.  But we were, in our early forties, a long way from our backgrounds and, as usual with the tabloids, these descriptions were more for headlines than accuracy.  Although Harold was technically born into the working class–his father worked in a tailoring factory–ever since the success of The Caretaker in 1960 he had been extremely well-off by most standards: he was able, for example, to retire his father, worn-out with his labours, to salubrious Hove where his parents would live happily for another thirty years.

Again technically, since my father was an earl and my mother a countess, I could be argued to be an aristocrat.  But my father, born Frank Pakenham, only succeeded to the Earldom of Longford when I was nearly thirty; my childhood was spent in a modest North Oxford house, my father, with no private income, teaching at the University.  My mother, being a Harley Street doctor’s daughter, was in any case convinced (and thus convinced us) that the middle classes were the salt of the earth whereas the aristocracy was feckless, unpunctual and extravagant, an assumption that our beloved father’s attitude to life did nothing to discourage.  I had no inherited money myself, and had earned my own living since the age of twenty-one, first working for a publisher and, after marriage, by journalism and books.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

It is wise to remember that, when we are reading letters never intended for us, any problems of understanding are ours and not theirs.

for better . . .

from the book:

In 1993, a group of German neuroscientists are believed to have been among the first to scan the brain to see what it looked like in various emotional states, including passionate love.  In the brain scanner, the scientists concluded, the patterns of romantic love look like “mental chaos.”

. . . Anyone who has ever loved doesn’t need an Arabic lesson to understand that all love is not the same.  The love we feel for our children is different from what we share with our friends, lovers, or spouses.  And even within a romantic relationship, we experience varying degrees of life, and even the type of love we feel can change over time.

. . . California State University sociologist Terry Hatkoff has identified six basic styles of love.  They are:

  • Romantic – marked by passion and sexual attraction
  • Best Friends – feelings of deep affection and caring
  • Logical – when practical issues like money, religion, and values influence feelings
  • Playful – the excitement of flirtatious and challenging interaction
  • Possessive – marked by feelings of jealousy and obsession
  • Unselfish – marked by nurturing, kindness, and sacrifice

. . . Getting divorced is listed as worse even than going to jail.  Here are the top ten most stressful life events.

  1. Death of a spouse
  2. Divorce
  3. Marital separation
  4. Going to jail
  5. Death of a close family member
  6. Personal injury or illness
  7. Marriage
  8. Getting fired
  9. Reconciling with a spouse
  10. Retirement

Ron Carlson Writes a Story


Ron Carlson Writes a Story


All right, let’s write a story, or rather: let’s examine the writing of the story.  Not the story, the writing,not the product, the process.  In reading we examine the story–and we are expert readers.  It’s what we’ve been trained and drilled in.  To read a story is to react to it, and to write a story is to stay alert and open to the possibilities that emerge as each sentence cuts its way into the unknown.  In writing, we “find” the story, and our training as readers is of less help than our training as human beings, as men and women who see, feel, and intuit and who are open to possibilities.

. . . Beginning a story without knowing all the terrain is not a comfortable feeling.  It’s uncomfortable enough in fact to keep most people away from the keyboard.  In our lives we’re used to knowing what we’re doing, where we’re going.  It would be strange to get in the car and think you were going to pick up the kids at school, but not be really sure.  But there are moments in the process of writing a story when you must tolerate that feeling: you stay alert to everything that is happening and by listening and watching, you find out where you are going by going there.  Somebody else may get in the car.

. . . The single largest advantage a veteran writer has over the beginner is this tolerance of not knowing.  it’s not style, skill, or any other dexterity.  An experienced writer has been lost in those woods before and is willing to be lost; she knows that being lost is necessary for the discoveries to come.  The seasoned writer waits, is patient, listens to her story as it talks to her.  Now I’ve started being a little mystical here, and I want to avoid the sense that writing is magic and not work.  The story isn’t going to talk to you, but things are going to happen in the heat of writing that cannot be predicted from outside the act itself.  Much of a writer’s work is exploration, and that involves so many things he cannot know from the outside.  And we all agree that it is more comfortable to be outside the story considering it, than inside the story struggling to see it.  Comfort isn’t an issue.

. . . We live in a society that doesn’t offer any support or approval for ventures that aren’t clearly articulated and aligned for a goal.  A writer gets past this.  It’s going to be a mess before you’re finished, and you may not have a name for the mess or understand its utilitarian purposes.  There aren’t words for everything.  For now, we’ll call it the draft of a story.

. . . I specify all types of things; if I don’t know the car, it’s a Buick.  I like the word Buick.  To reach for your atlas, the yellow pages, your book of names, thesaurus, dictionary there at your writing desk during your time is a mistake.  (Worse: Google, which didn’t exist when I wrote this story [“The Governor’s Ball].)  You aren’t looking for the right name, you’re looking for a reason to stop. . . . I try to get a name I believe right away, but if it isn’t right, there’ll be plenty of time to set that name right after my hour or two or six at the typewriter is over.  Burned-out and dizzy with success and the faint hum of carpal tunnel, I’ll have all evening to locate the right name and do a ten-second search and replace.

. . . What has invaded the writer’s room more than any of these editorial monitors, is the Internet, and I will jut say that the Internet is the enemy of a writer’s day.  The Internet is a heaping helping of what everyone else is thinking–and right this minute.  If you open your e-mail, you are asking to let go of the day.  I don’t want to belabor this obvious point, but we have welcomed this convenience right onto the very screens where we are writing stories, and e-mail is not a friend to the writer.