Tag Archives: books

An involuntarily silent, gliding gait

In this excerpt from the short story My Dear Emily ©1962, Joanna Russ describes a vampire waking up at the crack of dusk: He wakes up slowly, mistily, dizzily, with a vague memory of having fallen asleep on plush. He is intensely miserable, bound down to his bed on hoops of steel, and the memory …

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Change

In 1955 John Wyndham published a novella titled The Chrysalids in the UK and Re-Birth in America.  It is not a religious text.  It is about post-apocalyptic mutants. But it’s also one of the best books about change– the inevitability of change and resistance to change– that I’ve read in a long time.  It really …

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Swindell Swindle

In this excerpt from David Brinkley’s autobiography, titled simple David Brinkley: A Memoir, ©1995, he remembers his first job, at the age of twelve, in the 1930s: Mr. Swindell explained to me that the A&P sold butter in two forms– “print” butter in quarter-pound sticks wrapped in paper printed with the dairy’s name, and a …

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And I Knew Before I Answered

In this excerpt from Wunnerful, Wunnerful! the Autobiography of Lawrence Welk, © 1971, Welk discusses the grief and disorientation he felt when he lost his mother: It was in Pittsburgh that I got the telegram. “Come home at once. Mother is dying.” I stood holding the telegram in my hands, sick at heart, remembering a …

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Vulnerable Human Beings

In this excerpt from Wunnerful, Wunnerful! the Autobiography of Lawrence Welk, © 1971,  Welk discusses the lesson he learned when his first band left him to tour on their own: Some of the bewilderment and pain began to lift the moment I returned (home) to Yankton, and a day or so later when I dropped …

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Brushed My Hair Back

In this excerpt from Wunnerful, Wunnerful! the Autobiography of Lawrence Welk, © 1971, he talks about how hard it was for him to express his emotions verbally: I had always thought my mother was beautiful, but she looked especially so to me as she held (my newborn daughter) Shirley for the first time. She settled …

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Saint Abbie Hoffman

In this excerpt from Fates Worse Than Death, copyright 1991, Kurt Vonnegut talks about one of my personal heroes, Abbie Hoffman: I mentioned Abbie Hoffman in that piece about books as mantras for meditation. I realize that most people nowadays don’t know who he was or what he did. He was a clowning genius, having …

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Sinners and

“I can be more prompt than the Roman Catholic Church in announcing who is a saint, since I do not require courtroom-style proofs that so-and-so was on at least three occasions capable of magic with the help of God. It is enough for me if a person (like a good anthropologist) easily finds all races …

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Change, Conquer or Exploit

Excerpted from Plain and Simple:  A Woman’s Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender, ©1989: “Why is the Amish land so beautiful?” I asked one evening. “What makes it feel special? I’m a city person, Eli, and I didn’t see a cow till I was twelve. I don’t know where the sun sets, or how …

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Reading List

Three classic books that are better than any of the movies: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (download) Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley (download) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (download) These three are all far more subtle than any movie interpretation I’ve seen.  The …

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We had still duties which we ought to perform…

In this excerpt from Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, ©1818, young Victor Frankenstein mourns the death of his mother: She died calmly, and her countenance expressed affection even in death. I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the void that …

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Chang and Eng

Excerpted from The Two, the biography of the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, by Irving and Amy Wallace, ©1978: On another visit to Philadelphia, the fact that the twins were genuinely united saved them from a fine or jail. A spectator, shaking hands with Chang, squeezed his hand painfully hard. Immediately, Chang punched …

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