Archive for Books

A River Runs Through It…

My mother died in 1997. I honored her wish to be cremated and the cardboard box holding her remains sat on a shelf in my closet until the summer of 2009. I wasn’t trying to hang on to her in some creepy way, but I had a plan that took 12 years to execute. 

Claudine Mildred Christy Bernard was born in Missoula, Montana in 1906. I was born there 31 years later. Both my father and mother graduated from the University of Montana in 1928, where she was one of the first women graduates of the UM School of Journalism. My son, Brent, majored in geology at Montana State, and in 1997, daughter Diana and her husband, Nick, graduated from UM with degrees in English. Last year their son, Will, entered UM as an art major.  read more

Baby Steps…

After sixteen months of Covid isolation, we were ready to hit the road. I never imagined it would be a difficult or complicated decision but times change. In January of 2020 Marilynn arranged a summer house trade in France. By March we were in lockdown. All travel plans on hold. By May it was canceled. 

For years we hopped on airplanes and traveled as far as we could. Before the pandemic, we combined our overseas trips with leisurely explorations of America. We drove across Texas (El Paso to Austin), the Southwest (Tucson, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Moab), the South (Charleston, Beaufort, Savannah, St. Simons Island), the Northeast (Rhode Island and the Berkshires, including Tanglewood). But, there are still great expanses of America for us to cover. read more

Toss the Word Salad…

I got up this morning wondering if I was “woke” without knowing exactly what that means. Earlier in the week two Fox News contributors criticized Joe Biden for worrying more about “wokeness” in the military than winning wars. One of them then added:

“The problem with Republicans is that we surrender the frame. We allow ourselves to be lulled into this concept that what we really need to be talking about is whether or not there are people who liked the wrong meme, or might be members of the wrong listserv, or get their news in the wrong places. Look in China right now, Tucker, they’re not doing gender sensitivity training. They’re not wondering whether or not their military is woke enough.”  read more

The City as a Character…

Most of us have a favorite city. New York, London, and Paris are high on most lists, but it could be any city. It becomes a favorite because we associate it with a visit, a person, or maybe even its skyline.

As a writer I’m interested in story telling but especially fond of those in which the city is not just a setting but a character. For example, it’s hard to think of anything by Charles Dickens’ – Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, even A Christmas Carol – where the city in not omnipresent and interactive. Fred Schwarzbach, author of Dickens and the City says, “He teaches us to read the city like a book.” read more

The Importance of Being Ernest…

My last post drew a number of interesting comments, especially Marilynn’s belief that Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita could only have been written by someone who experienced or fantasized about what is described – a middle-aged professor’s sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl. Jon Maksik, a very good writer friend, pointed out such a belief could only come from an inability to separate the art from the artist. And now we have Ken Burns’ three-part documentary on Hemingway.  read more