On the day that his twin sons were born, Anthony Doerr received a letter informing him that he had won the Rome Prize. He was given a small apartment,On the day that his twin sons were born, Anthony Doerr received a letter informing him that he had won the Rome Prize. He was given a small apartment, a studio at the American Academy, and a monthly stipend to spend a year writing in the Eternal City. Six months later, he and his wife bundled up the twins and flew from Idaho to Italy.
Doerr writes about the challenges of parenting twins, especially the lack of sleep, and the love he feels for them. Communicating in Italian is another difficult task, sometimes with humorous results, and other times frightening as when he needed to get medical help for his wife Shauna. During the year the author read all 37 volumes of Pliny's "Natural History" (from AD 77) as well as many other works about Rome. His family walked and rode buses through the city with a twin stroller, marveling at the beauty they could find. The whole area of Rome and the Vatican is really a huge art museum. They were also witness to the events at Saint Peter's Square when the Pope died and another Pope was chosen.
Doerr is a keen observer of both people and nature. His lyrical writing is beautiful, and draws the reader in to experience Rome through his eyes. "Four Seasons in Rome" is an especially enjoyable travel memoir....more
Harry Crews was practicing the art of storytelling as a five-year-old in a poor sharecropper's shack in Georgia. He and his friends made up stories abHarry Crews was practicing the art of storytelling as a five-year-old in a poor sharecropper's shack in Georgia. He and his friends made up stories about the models in the Sears Roebuck catalogue. "I first became fascinated with the Sears catalogue because all the people in its pages were perfect. Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a glancing fence staple. And if they didn't have something missing, they were carrying sores from barbed wire, or knives, or fishhooks." The youngsters created stories where the perfect models had hard feelings and violent trouble between them, problems that were not visible to the eye. "I knew that under those fancy clothes there had to be scars, there had to be swellings and boils of one kind or another because there was no other way to live in the world."
Crews' family was terribly poor, working extremely hard farming in Bacon County, Georgia during the Great Depression. His father died when he was two-years-old, and his mother married his alcoholic uncle. Crews survived two heartbreaking challenges when he was a young child--polio and terrible burns. But there was always a sense of love and home from his large extended family.
This memoir gave me the feeling that Crews was sitting on a porch, having a drink and sharing his stories with friends on a hot Georgia night. Although there are tales of hardship, there are also many moments of humor--eccentric characters, animal stories, and superstitions. There is a real sense of place in this book, as the subtitle "The Biography of a Place" attests. So pull up a chair and spend a few evenings with Harry Crews' storytelling. I hope you'll be as impressed with his fine writing as I was....more
Anne Lindbergh spent two weeks on Captiva Island in Florida, one week alone and one week with her sister, reflecting on her life and relationships. ShAnne Lindbergh spent two weeks on Captiva Island in Florida, one week alone and one week with her sister, reflecting on her life and relationships. She uses five shells found on the beach to symbolize her ideas. She felt that women should try to simplify their lives. Find time for solitude, creativity, and an inner life. Have time alone with your spouse and each child for "one-and-only moments". Find balance between obligations to your family and your community, and time for inner harmony.
Relationships have ebbs and flows like the tide, and peaks and troughs like the waves. Three of her shells represented different phases in relationships, especially marriage, as people go through life. Enjoy the present, find the joy and peace in the here and now.
This lovely slim volume written in 1955 was partly memoir, and partly an inspirational group of essays. The author was a wife and mother during my grandmother's and my mother's generations. It made me wonder what Anne Lindbergh would think about the world today where my daughters' generation is bombarded with information and new devices constantly. Perhaps today's woman has even more need to nurture an inner life as this book suggests. ...more
Joe Hurley wore out six pairs of shoes as he walked across the United States on Route 6. The retired 59-year-old newspaper reporter from "The News-TimJoe Hurley wore out six pairs of shoes as he walked across the United States on Route 6. The retired 59-year-old newspaper reporter from "The News-Times" in Danbury, CT traveled from Cape Cod on the Atlantic Ocean to Long Beach on the Pacific, going through 14 states. His photographer, Travis Lindhorst, also played chauffeur at the beginning and end of each day in an old Geo Metro--until the brakes failed in the mountains outside Death Valley. Joe filed weekly stories with the newspapers who helped sponsor the trip.
Although Route 6 does go through some major cities, most of the road is a two lane highway through small towns. Joe talked to the everyday people who make up the country as well as visiting scenic and historical areas along the way. Travis' color photographs are beautiful. I enjoyed reading about the travels of Joe and Travis--and it was so much easier from an armchair.
In 2002 Philip Connors quit his job as a copy editor at The Wall Street Journal to head to a lookout tower in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. His hIn 2002 Philip Connors quit his job as a copy editor at The Wall Street Journal to head to a lookout tower in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. His home for the summer was a small cabin, and a lookout tower topped by a 7'x 7' glass room. His job was to call in weather conditions and to scan the mountains for signs of fire. After his day in the tower was done, Connors would take his dog Alice for a long walk before cooking dinner. He often went for weeks without seeing another human, but had plenty of wildlife to keep him company. Connors writes, "If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is."
The author also also writes about the history of the Gila Wilderness. One of the most unfortunate events in Gila history is when the Apaches, led by Victorio, were slaughtered around 1979-1880. He refers back to other writers who worked as lookouts, naturalists, or foresters such as Jack Kerouac, Norman Maclean, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and more. He discusses firefighting, including whether the Forest Service should allow forest fires to burn or extinguish them. There is also controversy about the gray wolf, and about cattle grazing on public lands.
The book is an engaging mix of personal experience, fire lore, history, literature, and humor. Best of all, it is written by a man who is still in awe of nature after a decade of summers in the lookout tower. ...more