Archive for Books

My CIA Interview…

Once upon a time there was a clear-eyed, wet behind the ears, 24-year-old who believed national service was honorable. He was a liberal arts college graduate and Marine Corps fighter pilot about to finish his active duty obligation.

He never planned to make the military his career as much as he loved the flying, but he wasn’t sure what was next. Life was open ended. He thought about graduate school in English and a college teaching career. Tweed jackets with leather patches and all that. But that might be too tame.  read more

Remembering Wake Island…

“When we got up, a wind of between 20 and 25 miles was blowing from the north. We got the machine out early and put up the signal for the men at the station.”  Orville Wright’s Diary, December 17, 1903

That was the day of the Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk. I was born the same day (December 17) thirty-four years later, and in 1960 the Chance-Vought Aerospace Company gave me a pin for flying one of their F8 Crusaders 1000 mph. It seems impossible that time could collapse so dramatically in 57 years. read more

Dinner Companions…

James Salter is one of my favorite writers. We had a lot of interests in common–both fighter pilots, skiers, climbers, Francophiles, and food lovers. He wrote elegantly about all of them – The Hunters, Downhill RacerSolo FacesA Sport and a PastimeLife is Meals — and I grieved when he died at age 90 in 2015 .

Yesterday, M and I decided to keep his Life is Meals, a book he wrote with his wife Kay,on our coffee table. Subtitled A Food Lover’s Book of Days, it presents a short entry, maybe a story, an historical anecdote, or a recipe for each day of the year. Today’s entry (June 23rd) is entitled “Dinner Companions” and begins “Epicurus, Montaigne and many others offer the same advice; choose the companions first. Certain people will be better with certain others. read more

The Surface of Things…

As a writer, I’m trying to avoid the three Big topics of the day:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Covid-19
  • Donald Trump

These are this week’s low hanging fruit. Unless I have something personal to add, I think they’re better left to professionals working those beats while I limit my perspective to the surface of things – at least for today.

The events of the past few months have impacted the way we live our lives. We see the world differently because of the invisible threat. We’re aware that it’s inherently dangerous and unpredictable. The fallout from it has taken me places I thought I’d never go and given me permission to navel gaze as never before. read more

“I Have No More Words.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is a man of few words. He is the sometimes boyfriend of Mma Precious Ramotswe, the title character in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mr. Matekoni is a car mechanic in Botswana where the series is set. He is a simple man – wise and laconic – who, when asked to explain something, often responds with “I have no more words.” I use it jokingly when M pushes hard to continue a conversation I’m not comfortable with.

Today, it’s not a joke. It’s exactly how I feel. “I have no more words” to explain what’s currently consuming us – a killer virus, police brutality, racial division, a violent culture, government stalemate – in effect our whole existence on this 2nd of June 2020. read more