Eudora Welty delivered three lectures at Harvard University in 1983 which were developed into her charming memoir, "One Writer's Beginnings". She explEudora Welty delivered three lectures at Harvard University in 1983 which were developed into her charming memoir, "One Writer's Beginnings". She explored events in her own life that were important in becoming a writer.
In the first section, "Listening", she tells about the importance of books in her childhood home, her parents teaching her to read, singing, and listening to the stories of the ladies in Jackson, Mississippi. Welty writes, "Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening FOR them is something more acute than listening TO them. I suppose it's an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are THERE. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole." She seemed to be a very observant child, remembering details about how various people communicated--a strict principal, the evangelists that visited Jackson, and the fictional comedy of the silent movies.
"Learning to See" was the title of the second section which was mainly about trips with her family to visit relatives in West Virginia and Ohio. Welty is known to have a strong sense of place in her writing, and she expresses it in her memories of visits to her grandparents and her mother's lively brothers.
In the third section, "Finding a Voice", Welty writes about the things that sparked the writing of her stories. It might be a phrase from a conversation, or a person she met. One of her first jobs was working as a photographer and publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration, an occupation that also required her to be very observant. When she wrote "Death of a Traveling Salesman" she realized that her real subject was human relationships. Writing stories also helped her discover connections in her own experiences and in her memories of her parents. She also incorporated mythology into some of her works.
The tone of the memoir is conversational. I could picture myself on Miss Eudora's front porch swing as I listened to this gentle lady who had wonderful gifts of observation....more
In this zany novel the centenarian Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his nursing home to avoid his birthday party. Wearing bedroom slippers, heIn this zany novel the centenarian Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his nursing home to avoid his birthday party. Wearing bedroom slippers, he heads to the nearby train station. One crazy event after another lands Allan and some new friends (with criminal backgrounds) heading through Sweden while avoiding the police.
Alternating chapters tell us about Allan's backstory as a munitions expert. Although he avoids talking about politics and religion, Allan found himself inadvertently meeting world leaders and influencing history for eighty years. Allan is an optimist who needs nothing more than a good meal and some vodka to make him happy.
The reader has to suspend disbelief that a 100-year-old man could be in such good shape physically and mentally as Allan is. Just go with the flow, and enjoy the escapades of this remarkable centenarian. I especially enjoyed the social commentary and the dry humor describing our world leaders. 3 1/2 stars, rounded up to 4 stars....more
"A Different Kind of Christmas" is a short novel about the Underground Railroad and the escape of some Southern slaves during the holiday festivities."A Different Kind of Christmas" is a short novel about the Underground Railroad and the escape of some Southern slaves during the holiday festivities. Fletcher Randal, the son of a North Carolina plantation owner is attending college at Princeton in 1855. He meets three Quaker students who take him to their home in Philadelphia where he is exposed to their anti-slavery beliefs and the Underground Railroad. His conscience bothers him, and Fletcher vows to help their cause.
The book is written simply so it would be appropriate for middle school students as well as adults. There is quite a bit of important background about the Underground Railroad, the Quakers, and slavery in the first half of the story. Some of it is woven into the story, but Fletcher is shown researching at the college library to learn more about the subject. When Fletcher returns to North Carolina for the Christmas break, he meets the engaging character Harpin' John. Tension builds as they make their plans since there is great danger to both the escaping slaves and the "conductors" of the Underground Railroad.
The book works if the reader thinks of it as an instructive parable or fable, fine for older children. Since the book is marketed to adults, it seems like there should be a bit more soul-searching and character development as Fletcher reaches such a difficult, courageous decision. While Fletcher is following the morally right path, he is also betraying his loving parents, ruining his father's political career, probably losing his inheritance, and risking death. So I would give the book a high rating for the moral message, but a lower rating for the storytelling....more
3.5 stars. First published as "It Had to Be Murder", this noir short story was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as "Rear Window". Jeffries, a disabled man,3.5 stars. First published as "It Had to Be Murder", this noir short story was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as "Rear Window". Jeffries, a disabled man, sits by his bedroom window filling the hours by watching the comings and goings of his neighbors. He noticed that the ill wife of another tenant seemed to be missing. The story takes the reader inside Jeffries' mind as he works through his suspicions about the woman's disappearance. It was an enjoyable short story where the suspense kept building....more