It was belong to a great man, very rich, like what you not got here; many fields, many forests, many big house. My papa play for his wedding, and he give my papa fine gun, and my papa give you. I was glad that this project was one of futurity. There never were such people as the Shimerdas for wanting to give away everything they had. Even the mother was always offering me things, though I knew she expected substantial presents in return. The old man's smile, as he listened, was so full of sadness, of pity for things, that I never afterward forgot it.
As the sun sank there came a sudden coolness and the strong smell of earth and drying grass. She was four years older than I, to be sure, and had seen more of the world; but I was a boy and she was a girl, and I resented her protecting manner. Before the autumn was over she began to treat me more like an equal and to defer to me in other things than reading lessons.
This change came about from an adventure we had together. I offered to take her on the pony, and she got up behind me. There had been another black frost the night before, and the air was clear and heady as wine. Within a week all the blooming roads had been despoiled — hundreds of miles of yellow sunflowers had been transformed into brown, rattling, burry stalks. We found Russian Peter digging his potatoes.
We were glad to go in and get warm by his kitchen stove and to see his squashes and Christmas melons, heaped in the storeroom for winter. We could find out whether they ran straight down, or were horizontal, like mole-holes; whether they had underground connections; whether the owls had nests down there, lined with feathers. We might get some puppies, or owl eggs, or snake-skins. The dog-town was spread out over perhaps ten acres. The grass had been nibbled short and even, so this stretch was not shaggy and red like the surrounding country, but gray and velvety. The holes were several yards apart, and were disposed with a good deal of regularity, almost as if the town had been laid out in streets and avenues.
One always felt that an orderly and very sociable kind of life was going on there. I picketed Dude down in a draw, and we went wandering about, looking for a hole that would be easy to dig. The dogs were out, as usual, dozens of them, sitting up on their hind legs over the doors of their houses. As we approached, they barked, shook their tails at us, and scurried underground. Before the mouths of the holes were little patches of sand and gravel, scratched up, we supposed, from a long way below the surface. Here and there, in the town, we came on larger gravel patches, several yards away from any hole.
If the dogs had scratched the sand up in excavating, how had they carried it so far? It was on one of these gravel beds that I met my adventure. We were examining a big hole with two entrances. The burrow sloped into the ground at a gentle angle, so that we could see where the two corridors united, and the floor was dusty from use, like a little highway over which much travel went. She was standing opposite me, pointing behind me and shouting something in Bohemian.
I whirled round, and there, on one of those dry gravel beds, was the biggest snake I had ever seen. When I turned he was lying in long loose waves, like a letter "W. He was not merely a big snake, I thought — he was a circus monstrosity. His abominable muscularity, his loathsome, fluid motion, somehow made me sick.
He was as thick as my leg, and looked as if millstones could n't crush the disgusting vitality out of him. He lifted his hideous little head, and rattled. I did n't run because I did n't think of it — if my back had been against a stone wall I could n't have felt more cornered. I saw his coils tighten — now he would spring, spring his length, I remembered. I ran up and drove at his head with my spade, struck him fairly across the neck, and in a minute he was all about my feet in wavy loops.
I struck now from hate. Even after I had pounded his ugly head flat, his body kept on coiling and winding, doubling and falling back on itself. I walked away and turned my back. I felt seasick. You sure? Why you not run when I say? You might have told me there was a snake behind me! I suppose I looked as sick as I felt. Ain't you feel scared a bit? Now we take that snake home and show everybody. Nobody ain't seen in this kawn-tree so big snake like you kill.
She went on in this strain until I began to think that I had longed for this opportunity, and had hailed it with joy. Cautiously we went back to the snake; he was still groping with his tail, turning up his ugly belly in the light. A faint, fetid smell came from him, and a thread of green liquid oozed from his crushed head.
I took a long piece of string from my pocket, and she lifted his head with the spade while I tied a noose around it. We pulled him out straight and measured him by my riding-quirt; he was about five and a half feet long. He had twelve rattles, but they were broken off before they began to taper, so I insisted that he must once have had twenty-four.
As I turned him over I began to feel proud of him, to have a kind of respect for his age and size. He seemed like the ancient, eldest Evil. Certainly his kind have left horrible unconscious memories in all warm-blooded life. When we dragged him down into the draw, Dude sprang off to the end of his tether and shivered all over — would n't let us come near him. As she rode along slowly, her bare legs swinging against the pony's sides, she kept shouting back to me about how astonished everybody would be.
I followed with the spade over my shoulder, dragging my snake. Her exultation was contagious. The great land had never looked to me so big and free. If the red grass were full of rattlers, I was equal to them all. Nevertheless, I stole furtive glances behind me now and then to see that no avenging mate, older and bigger than my quarry, was racing up from the rear. The sun had set when we reached our garden and went down the draw toward the house. Otto Fuchs was the first one we met.
He was sitting on the edge of the cattle-pond, having a quiet pipe before supper. He did not say anything for a minute, but scratched his head and turned the snake over with his boot. Otto shook the ashes out of his pipe and squatted down to count the rattles. I would n't want to do any business with that fellow myself, unless I had a fence-post along. Your grandmother's snake-cane would n't more than tickle him. He could stand right up and talk to you, he could. Did he fight hard? He is all over Jimmy's boots. I scream for him to run, but he just hit and hit that snake like he was crazy.
Otto winked at me. That was just as well. Subsequent experiences with rattlesnakes taught me that my first encounter was fortunate in circumstance. My big rattler was old, and had led too easy a life; there was not much fight in him. He had probably lived there for years, with a fat prairie dog for breakfast whenever he felt like it, a sheltered home, even an owl-feather bed, perhaps, and he had forgot that the world does n't owe rattlers a living. A snake of his size, in fighting trim, would be more than any boy could handle. So in reality it was a mock adventure; the game was fixed for me by chance, as it probably was for many a dragon-slayer.
That snake hung on our corral fence for several days; some of the neighbors came to see it and agreed that it was the biggest rattler ever killed in those parts. She liked me better from that time on, and she never took a supercilious air with me again.
I had killed a big snake — I was now a big fellow. W HILE the autumn color was growing pale on the grass and cornfields, things went badly with our friends the Russians. Peter told his troubles to Mr. Shimerda: he was unable to meet a note which fell due on the first of November; had to pay an exorbitant bonus on renewing it, and to give a mortgage on his pigs and horses and even his milk cow. His creditor was Wick Cutter, the merciless Black Hawk money-lender, a man of evil name throughout the county, of whom I shall have more to say later.
Peter could give no very clear account of his transactions with Cutter. He only knew that he had first borrowed two hundred dollars, then another hundred, then fifty — that each time a bonus was added to the principal, and the debt grew faster than any crop he planted. Now everything was plastered with mortgages. Soon after Peter renewed his note, Pavel strained himself lifting timbers for a new barn, and fell over among the shavings with such a gush of blood from the lungs that his fellow-workmen thought he would die on the spot.
They hauled him home and put him into his bed, and there he lay, very ill indeed. Misfortune seemed to settle like an evil bird on the roof of the log house, and to flap its wings there, warning human beings away. The Russians had such bad luck that people were afraid of them and liked to put them out of mind.
Just as they were leaving, Russian Peter drove up. Pavel was very bad, he said, and wanted to talk to Mr. Shimerda and his daughter; he had come to fetch them. My plan must have seemed very foolish to her, but she was often large-minded about humoring the desires of other people. She asked Peter to wait a moment, and when she came back from the kitchen she brought a bag of sandwiches and doughnuts for us. After the sun sank, a cold wind sprang up and moaned over the prairie.
If this turn in the weather had come sooner, I should not have got away. We burrowed down in the straw and curled up close together, watching the angry red die out of the west and the stars begin to shine in the clear, windy sky. Peter kept sighing and groaning. Tony whispered to me that he was afraid Pavel would never get well. We lay still and did not talk. Up there the stars grew magnificently bright. Though we had come from such different parts of the world, in both of us there was some dusky superstition that those shining groups have their influence upon what is and what is not to be.
Perhaps Russian Peter, come from farther away than any of us, had brought from his land, too, some such belief. The little house on the hillside was so much the color of the night that we could not see it as we came up the draw. The ruddy windows guided us — the light from the kitchen stove, for there was no lamp burning. We entered softly. The man in the wide bed seemed to be asleep. Tony and I sat down on the bench by the wall and leaned our arms on the table in front of us. The firelight flickered on the hewn logs that supported the thatch overhead. Pavel made a rasping sound when he breathed, and he kept moaning.
We waited. The wind shook the doors and windows impatiently, then swept on again, singing through the big spaces. Each gust, as it bore down, rattled the panes, and swelled off like the others. They made me think of defeated armies, retreating; or of ghosts who were trying desperately to get in for shelter, and then went moaning on. Presently, in one of those sobbing intervals between the blasts, the coyotes tuned up with their whining howl ; one, two, three, then all together — to tell us that winter was coming.
This sound brought an answer from the bed, — a long complaining cry, — as if Pavel were having bad dreams or were waking to some old misery. Peter listened, but did not stir. He was sitting on the floor by the kitchen stove. The coyotes broke out again; yap, yap, yap — then the high whine. Pavel called for something and struggled up on his elbow. I could not take my eyes off the man in the bed. His shirt was hanging open, and his emaciated chest, covered with yellow bristle, rose and fell horribly.
He began to cough. Peter shuffled to his feet, caught up the tea-kettle and mixed him some hot water and whiskey. The sharp smell of spirits went through the room. Pavel snatched the cup and drank, then made Peter give him the bottle and slipped it under his pillow, grinning disagreeably, as if he had outwitted some one. His eyes followed Peter about the room with a contemptuous, unfriendly expression. It seemed to me that he despised him for being so simple and docile.
Presently Pavel began to talk to Mr. Shimerda, scarcely above a whisper. She leaned forward and strained her ears to hear him. He grew more and more excited, and kept pointing all around his bed, as if there were things there and he wanted Mr. Shimerda to see them. The sick man raged and shook his fist. He seemed to be cursing people who had wronged him.
Shimerda caught him by the shoulders, but could hardly hold him in bed. At last he was shut off by a coughing fit which fairly choked him. He pulled a cloth from under his pillow and held it to his mouth. Quickly it was covered with bright red spots — I thought I had never seen any blood so bright. When he lay down and turned his face to the wall, all the rage had gone out of him. He lay patiently fighting for breath, like a child with croup. From our bench we could see what a hollow case his body was.
His spine and shoulder-blades stood out like the bones under the hide of a dead steer left in the fields. That sharp backbone must have hurt him when he lay on it. Gradually, relief came to all of us. Whatever it was, the worst was over. Shimerda signed to us that Pavel was asleep. Without a word Peter got up and lit his lantern. He was going out to get his team to drive us home.
Shimerda went with him. We sat and watched the long bowed back under the blue sheet, scarcely daring to breathe. What she did not tell me then, she told later; we talked of nothing else for days afterward. When Pavel and Peter were young men, living at home in Russia, they were asked to be groomsmen for a friend who was to marry the belle of another village. It was in the dead of winter and the groom's party went over to the wedding in sledges. Peter and Pavel drove in the groom's sledge, and six sledges followed with all his relatives and friends.
After the ceremony at the church, the party went to a dinner given by the parents of the bride. The dinner lasted all afternoon; then it became a supper and continued far into the night. There was much dancing and drinking. At midnight the parents of the bride said good-bye to her and blessed her. The groom took her up in his arms and carried her out to his sledge and tucked her under the blankets. He sprang in beside her, and Pavel and Peter our Pavel and Peter! Pavel drove. The party set out with singing and the jingle of sleigh-bells, the groom's sledge going first. All the drivers were more or less the worse for merry-making, and the groom was absorbed in his bride.
The wolves were bad that winter, and every one knew it, yet when they heard the first wolf-cry, the drivers were not much alarmed. They had too much good food and drink inside them. The first howls were taken up and echoed and with quickening repetitions.
The wolves were coming together. There was no moon, but the starlight was clear on the snow. A black drove came up over the hill behind the wedding party. The wolves ran like streaks of shadow; they looked no bigger than dogs, but there were hundreds of them. Something happened to the hindmost sledge: the driver lost control, — he was probably very drunk, — the horses left the road, the sledge was caught in a clump of trees, and overturned.
The occupants rolled out over the snow, and the fleetest of the wolves sprang upon them. The shrieks that followed made everybody sober. The drivers stood up and lashed their horses. The groom had the best team and his sledge was lightest — all the others carried from six to a dozen people. Another driver lost control. The screams of the horses were more terrible to hear than the cries of the men and women. Nothing seemed to check the wolves. It was hard to tell what was happening in the rear; the people who were falling behind shrieked as piteously as those who were already lost.
The little bride hid her face on the groom's shoulder and sobbed. Pavel sat still and watched his horses. The road was clear and white, and the groom's three blacks went like the wind.
It was only necessary to be calm and to guide them carefully. At length, as they breasted a long hill, Peter rose cautiously and looked back. Pavel reached the brow of the hill, but only two sledges followed him down the other side. In that moment on the hilltop, they saw behind them a whirling black group on the snow. Presently the groom screamed. He saw his father's sledge overturned, with his mother and sisters.
He sprang up as if he meant to jump, but the girl shrieked and held him back. It was even then too late. The black ground-shadows were already crowding over the heap in the road, and one horse ran out across the fields, his harness hanging to him, wolves at his heels. But the groom's movement had given Pavel an idea. They were within a few miles of their village now. The only sledge left out of six was not very far behind them, and Pavel's middle horse was failing.
Beside a frozen pond something happened to the other sledge; Peter saw it plainly. Three big wolves got abreast of the horses, and the horses went crazy. They tried to jump over each other, got tangled up in the harness, and overturned the sledge. When the shrieking behind them died away, Pavel realized that he was alone upon the familiar road.
Now his middle horse was being almost dragged by the other two. Pavel gave Peter the reins and stepped carefully into the back of the sledge. He called to the groom that they must lighten — and pointed to the bride. The young man cursed him and held her tighter. Pavel tried to drag her away. In the struggle, the groom rose. Pavel knocked him over the side of the sledge and threw the girl after him.
He said he never remembered exactly how he did it, or what happened afterward. Peter, crouching in the front seat, saw nothing. The first thing either of them noticed was a new sound that broke into the clear air, louder than they had ever heard it before — the bell of the monastery of their own village, ringing for early prayers. Pavel and Peter drove into the village alone, and they had been alone ever since.
They were run out of their village. Pavel's own mother would not look at him. They went away to strange towns, but when people learned where they came from, they were always asked if they knew the two men who had fed the bride to the wolves. Wherever they went, the story followed them. It took them five years to save money enough to come to America. When Pavel's health grew so bad, they decided to try farming.
Pavel died a few days after he unburdened his mind to Mr. Shimerda, and was buried in the Norwegian gaveyard. Peter sold off everything, and left the country — went to be cook in a railway construction camp where gangs of Russians were employed. At his sale we bought Peter's wheelbarrow and some of his harness. During the auction he went about with his head down, and never lifted his eyes.
He seemed not to care about anything. The Black Hawk money-lender who held mortgages on Peter's live-stock was there, and he bought in the sale notes at about fifty cents on the dollar. Every one said Peter kissed the cow before she was led away by her new owner. I did not see him do it, but this I know: after all his furniture and his cook-stove and pots and pans had been hauled off by the purchasers, when his house was stripped and bare, he sat down on the floor with his clasp-knife and ate all the melons that he had put away for winter.
When Mr. Shimerda and Krajiek drove up in their wagon to take Peter to the train, they found him with a dripping beard, surrounded by heaps of melon rinds. The loss of his two friends had a depressing effect upon old Mr. When he was out hunting, he used to go into the empty log house and sit there, brooding. This cabin was his hermitage until the winter snows penned him in his cave.
We did not tell Pavel's secret to any one, but guarded it jealously — as if the wolves of the Ukraine had gathered that night long ago, and the wedding party been sacrificed, to give us a painful and peculiar pleasure. At night, before I went to sleep, I often found myself in a sledge drawn by three horses, dashing through a country that looked something like Nebraska and something like Virginia. T HE first snowfall came early in December.
I remember how the world looked from our sitting-room window as I dressed behind the stove that morning: the low sky was like a sheet of metal; the blond cornfields had faded out into ghostliness at last; the little pond was frozen under its stiff willow bushes. Big white flakes were whirling over everything and disappearing in the red grass. Beyond the pond, on the slope that climbed to the cornfield, there was, faintly marked in the grass, a great circle where the Indians used to ride.
Jake and Otto were sure that when they galloped round that ring the Indians tortured prisoners, bound to a stake in the center; but grandfather thought they merely ran races or trained horses there. Whenever one looked at this slope against the setting sun, the circle showed like a patern in the grass; and this morning, when the first light spray of snow lay over it, it came out with wonderful distinctness, like strokes of Chinese white on canvas.
The old figure stirred me as it had never done before and seemed a good omen for the winter. As soon as the snow had packed hard I began to drive about the country in a clumsy sleigh that Otto Fuchs made for me by fastening a wooden goods-box on bobs. Fuchs had been apprenticed to a cabinet-maker in the old country and was very handy with tools.
He would have done a better job if I had n't hurried him. It was a bright, cold day. I piled straw and buffalo robes into the box, and took two hot bricks wrapped in old blankets. When I got to the Shimerdas' I did not go up to the house, but sat in my sleigh at the bottom of the draw and called.
They had heard about my sledge from Ambrosch and knew why I had come. They tumbled in beside me and we set off toward the north, along a road that happened to be broken. The sky was brilliantly blue, and the sunlight on the glittering white stretches of prairie was almost blinding. The deep arroyo through which Squaw Creek wound was now only a cleft between snow-drifts — very blue when one looked down into it. The tree-tops that had been gold all the autumn were dwarfed and twisted, as if they would never have any life in them again. The few little cedars, which were so dull and dingy before, now stood out a strong, dusky green.
The wind had the burning taste of fresh snow; my throat and nostrils smarted as if some one had opened a hartshorn bottle. The cold stung, and at the same time delighted one. My horse's breath rose like steam, and whenever we stopped he smoked all over. The cornfields got back a little of their color under the dazzling light, and stood the palest possible gold in the sun and snow. All about us the snow was crusted in shallow terraces, with tracings like ripple-marks at the edges, curly waves that were the actual impression of the stinging lash in the wind.
The girls had on cotton dresses under their shawls; they kept shivering beneath the buffalo robes and hugging each other for warmth. But they were so glad to get away from their ugly cave and their mother's scolding that they begged me to go on and on, as far as Russian Peter's house. The great fresh open, after the stupefying warmth indoors, made them behave like wild things.
They laughed and shouted, and said they never wanted to go home again. Could n't we settle down and live in Russian Peter's house, Yulka asked, and could n't I go to town and buy things for us to keep house with? All the way to Russian Peter's we were extravagantly happy, but when we turned back, — it must have been about four o'clock, — the east wind grew stronger and began to howl; the sun lost its heartening power and the sky became gray and somber.
I took off my long woolen comforter and wound it around Yulka's throat. She got so cold that we made her hide her head under the buffalo robe. It was growing dark when we got to their house, but I refused to go in with them and get warm. I knew my hands would ache terribly if I went near a fire. Yulka forgot to give me back my comforter, and I had to drive home directly against the wind.
The next day I came down with an attack of quinsy , which kept me in the house for nearly two weeks. The basement kitchen seemed heavenly safe and warm in those days — like a tight little boat in a winter sea. The men were out in the fields all day, husking corn, and when they came in at noon, with long caps pulled down over their ears and their feet in red-lined overshoes, I used to think they were like Arctic explorers.
In the afternoons, when grandmother sat upstairs darning, or making husking-gloves, I read "The Swiss Family Robinson" aloud to her, and I felt that the Swiss family had no advantages over us in the way of an adventurous life. I was convinced that man's strongest antagonist is the cold. I admired the cheerful zest with which grandmother went about keeping us warm and comfortable and well-fed. She often reminded me, when she was preparing for the return of the hungry men, that this country was not like Virginia, and that here a cook had, as she said, "very little to do with.
She baked either pies or cake for us every day, unless, for a change, she made my favorite pudding , striped with currants and boiled in a bag. Next to getting warm and keeping warm, dinner and supper were the most interesting things we had to think about. Our lives centered around warmth and food and the return of the men at nightfall. I used to wonder, when they came in tired from the fields, their feet numb and their hands cracked and sore, how they could do all the chores so conscientiously: feed and water and bed the horses, milk the cows, and look after the pigs.
When supper was over, it took them a long while to get the cold out of their bones. While grandmother and I washed the dishes and grandfather read his paper upstairs, Jake and Otto sat on the long bench behind the stove, "easing" their inside boots, or rubbing mutton tallow into their cracked hands. I can still see those two men sitting on the bench; Otto's close-clipped head and Jake's shaggy hair slicked flat in front by a wet comb. I can see the sag of their tired shoulders against the whitewashed wall. What good fellows they were, how much they knew, and how many things they had kept faith with!
Fuchs had been a cowboy, a stage-driver, a bar-tender, a miner; had wandered all over that great Western country and done hard work everywhere, though, as grandmother said, he had nothing to show for it. Jake was duller than Otto. He could scarcely read, wrote even his name with difficulty, and he had a violent temper which sometimes made him behave like a crazy man — tore him all to pieces and actually made him ill. But he was so soft-hearted that any one could impose upon him. If he, as he said, "forgot himself" and swore before grandmother, he went about depressed and shamefaced all day.
They were both of them jovial about the cold in winter and the heat in summer, always ready to work overtime and to meet emergencies. It was a matter of pride with them not to spare themselves. Yet they were the sort of men who never get on, somehow, or do anything but work hard for a dollar or two a day. On those bitter, starlit nights, as we sat around the old stove that fed us and warmed us and kept us cheerful, we could hear the coyotes howling down by the corrals, and their hungry, wintry cry used to remind the boys of wonderful animal stories; about gray wolves and bears in the Rockies, wildcats and panthers in the Virginia mountains.
Sometimes Fuchs could be persuaded to talk about the outlaws and desperate characters he had known. I remember one funny story about himself that made grandmother, who was working her bread on the bread-board, laugh until she wiped her eyes with her bare arm, her hands being floury. It was like this: —. When Otto left Austria to come to America, he was asked by one of his relatives to look after a woman who was crossing on the same boat, to join her husband in Chicago. The woman started off with two children, but it was clear that her family might grow larger on the journey.
Fuchs said he "got on fine with the kids," and liked the mother, though she played a sorry trick on him. In mid-ocean she proceeded to have not one baby, but three! This event made Fuchs the object of undeserved notoriety, since he was traveling with her. The steerage stewardess was indignant with him, the doctor regarded him with suspicion. The first-cabin passengers, who made up a purse for the woman, took an embarrassing interest in Otto, and often inquired of him about his charge.
When the triplets were taken ashore at New York, he had, as he said, "to carry some of them. On the train it was very difficult to get milk for the babies and to keep their bottles clean. The mother did her best, but no woman, out of her natural resources, could feed three babies. The husband, in Chicago, was working in a furniture factory for modest wages, and when he met his family at the station he was rather crushed by the size of it. He, too, seemed to consider Fuchs in some fashion to blame. Now, did you ever hear of a young feller's having such hard luck, Mrs.
Grandmother told him she was sure the Lord had remembered these things to his credit, and had helped him out of many a scrape when he did n't realize that he was being protected by Providence. F OR several weeks after my sleigh-ride, we heard nothing from the Shimerdas. My sore throat kept me indoors, and grandmother had a cold which made the housework heavy for her. When Sunday came she was glad to have a day of rest. One night at supper Fuchs told us he had seen Mr. Shimerda out hunting. They ain't got but one overcoat among 'em over there, and they take turns wearing it.
They seem awful scared of cold, and stick in that hole in the bank like badgers. Krajiek says he's turrible strong and can stand anything. I guess rabbits must be getting scarce in this locality. Ambrosch come along by the cornfield yesterday where I was at work and showed me three prairie dogs he'd shot. He asked me if they was good to eat. I spit and made a face and took on, to scare him, but he just looked like he was smarter'n me and put 'em back in his sack and walked off.
Grandmother looked up in alarm and spoke to grandfather.
High Country (Anna Pigeon Mysteries, Book 12) on Apple Books
Fuchs put in a cheerful word and said prairie dogs were clean beasts and ought to be good for food, but their family connections were against them. A good story that is well written and interesting from a virology geek's point of view -a very accessible account of how one virus changed history. It was written when Ms. Montross was a first year medical student, dissecting her cadaver in the gross anatomy lab. Her prose is really beautiful. Whether she is describing her own thoughts about her right to violate the body of another, the high personal price one pays to navigate a medical education, or the glistening dura mater that covers the brain, the writing is equally compelling.
I was really captivated good call, Dave! This is another one that I'm listening to on my iPod - I am hooked on listening to audiobooks in the car and on airplanes. So far I like it, and although it's a little contrived, I like the details in this historical fiction about the building of the Kingsbury cathedral in 12th century England. It's not so complex that I forget to get off the turnpike Read too many, though, and you end up speaking and writing a little funny.
It's an intellectual argument for increased philanthropy from individuals — giving consistently, because of justice and reason, rather than sporadically out of pity. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch Very inspiring Knit Two by Kate Jacobs Moloka'i by Alan Brennert Fascinating historical fiction about life in a quarantined leprosy settlement. For example: "A mosaic is a conversation between what is broken. Then I got it! Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton, Doubleday Still remarkably fresh and relevant after almost 40 years.
A great read for anyone with an interest in baseball or Japan. If you've ever been disgusted by someone telling you to "not worry so much" or "look on the bright side," then you may be a defensive pessimist. Norem argues that this may actually be a good thing for many people, as it can help them deal with what might otherwise be overwhelming anxiety. Moreover, she argues that for some people, being defensively pessimistic is better than being optimistic!
This is an interesting book that turns the positive psychology movement on its head. The author is best known for his public speaking and motivational skills. He has many other titles as well that cover other subjects. It is an easy and wonderful read. These titles are also available on cds. Ellison the Elephant by Eric Drachman A wonderful story about self-confidence and perseverance that you will want to read over and over again.
The accompanying CD is priceless. Hennessy A great book for little ones interested in dinosaurs. Dinosaur facts woven into a cute story that even includes lima beans. Do Like a Duck Does! Dig, Dig, Digging by Margaret Mayo An entertaining book for those fascinated by big machines such as bulldozers, tractors and firetrucks. Lit '45 In one of the interviews that Pulitzer-winning author Elizabeth Strout '77 gave recently, she told Maine Public Broadcasting that it wasn't until she moved to New York, where people assume that all the New England states are all the same, that she began to focus on her own Maine background in her writing, with great success.
That made me think about Carroll's most famous book, 's "As the Earth Turns" — about inland Maine farm life — which faded then rebounded in critical approval in the s as people began to value the sense of place in Carroll's writing. It's a good lesson. An interesting blend of Indian culture and contemporary life in Bombay, with the mythical world of the gods. The story loosely follows the death of Vishnu, a man who lives in an apartment hallway.
It ranks right up there with Angela's Ashes — and I think I like this one better. A true story of a girl's horrific childhood. Told with humor and insight. My 12 yr old started reading this book "accidentally" and couldn't put it down until he had finished it. A Mercy, by Toni Morrison Since this is one of my all-time favorite authors, I have trouble saying anything negative about her most recent book. A friend ordered it for me as soon as it became available, and I finished in a couple of days. It was a satisfying read, wonderfully written.
A bit shorter than I would have liked. I think she could have beefed out some of the characterization and depth more, but it was a good read. Not as good as Beloved, but that would be hard to compete with. The book was a thriller — kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next. It's told in intricate detail, sometimes more than I wanted, esp about the ships and the ocean statistics. It's not a "typical" book for me, but I liked it more than I thought I might. I kept dreaming about it, and I kept feeling like I was actually in the book at times, esp when the process of drowning is described.
Now I guess I need to rent the movie! Don't give away the ending Oh yeah, the ship goes down. This book didn't disappoint. I like her writing style and her sense of the perverse. She takes the reader through the unfolding of a terrible discovery that keeps you turning pages. She takes the ordinary and makes it strange, and the strange ordinary.
Sea Glass , by Anita Shreve Again, another story where the reader gets pulled in bit by bit and washed out to sea with the unraveling of truths and deceptions! I didn't like the ending — seemed very abrupt and too wrapped up, but maybe the abruptness is part of the point.
Testimony, by Anita Shreve This book is dark, intense, and disturbing. Through multiple viewpoints, we see the cause and effect of one terrible moment caught on video — what led up to it is just as troubling as what happened afterward. This book is well written — and despite the darkness was hard to put down. By about the 3rd page, I was already sick to death of one of the narrator's overdone butchered English and smug crassness. But of course that sets you up for lots of change in the character as the book evolves.
The book is about a young man who goes searching for the woman who saved his grandfather during WWII.
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The first-person narrator who opens the book is a "foil" of sorts, as the chapters from different viewpoints interweave with each other. One thing I really liked about this story was its nuances of what's real and what's fiction. The Ukrainian narrator alludes to shifting and "inventing" parts of the story, and some of the "historical" chapters by the other narrator are clearly fanciful.
I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days. I love the blend of narration, the puzzling out that the reader needs to do, the innocent child-narrator, and the story that presents one tale of the aftermath of without overdoing the drama. I love the characters that the boy meets in his journey, and I enjoyed the mystery of the key. Nothing seems to turn out as you want it to, and yet it all does seem to resolve itself.
Some of the book is quite unrealistic — a mom allowing her 9 yr old boy to wander the streets of NY for hours on end?? Improbable at best. A yr old man who is able to participate in some of those hours-long wanderings? Again, not likely. Esp when he more or less disappears later. Oops, was that a spoiler??
But I don't mind suspending my disbelief for a great book! It is somewhat-loosely based on the author's childhood experience of her father's imprisonment in Iran, and the family's subsequent escape. This story follows the lives of individuals in one family caught in the middle of a revolution. It's well-crafted, and you get inside the perspectives of the father in prison, the mother's helplessness, the young daughter's subversive activity of her own and accompanying guilt , and the older son's passivity living in New York.
Yes, this is a human-in-love-with-a-vampire book, and no it's not my typical read! So, if you're done laughing yourself out of your chair that I'm reading a whole series about a girl who loves a vampire, let me explain A good friend recommended it, and I started reading them and found that the story line was lighthearted in an odd sort of way. Surprises along the way, and some fun, refreshing characters.
The tone is very light, and there is absolutely nothing serious about these books. They are the ones I bring when I'm exercising on the treadmill and need something relatively mindless. I'm starting to get fond of these characters now. Kind of like a soap opera I give them 2 out of 5 stars. Fun, but after a while they become — dare I say it? Some "light" summer reading!
Lyrical and quirky and informative about Baikal and Siberia and Russia. By the former producer of Living on Earth. Thoughtful consideration about what it means to be an environmental journalist. There were moments when I wasn't sure that Karen Armstrong ever had ANY friends - but all in all I found this an interesting account, and a more personal approach to some of her work on various religious traditions. Without Tolstoy's ponderous philosophizing. Grossman was the most famous Soviet war reporter, his mother murdered by the Nazis in their invasion of the western Soviet Union.
His novel takes on a vast cast of characters, interlinked by their connections to the Battle of Stalingrad.
It's a novel about ideology and individual lives, but also about the Holocaust, state control of science, art and freedom and incredible heroism. My FYS loved it! Anything by Andrei Platonov that you can get your hands on - but only if it's translated by Robert Chandler. And Platonov is the great unsung Russian writer of the 20th century, finally coming into his own. He was a true believer, an engineer who became a writer, with an uncanny ability to register the odd distortions of vision and verbiage that went along with the revolution. His prose is a kind of heartbreaking grotesque mysticism This is a fantastic novel that brings you into the life of an Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease patient - and beautifully demonstrates the struggles of the patient, her family and colleagues.
There's enough humor to make it light, and you just fall in love with the patient and her family. These are quite diverse suggestions but since I turned 50 on Tuesday, my memory only serves my most recent reads. If you are a fan of nutty dogs it is pretty funny! Champlain's Dream non-fiction by David Hackett Fisher. Finally, now everyone knows why I am so proud of being Irish! This novel describes the cultural differences a Chinese woman encounters when she moves to the U.
As the book progresses, the reader actually "sees" her fluency in English develop. And finally for those who are interested in schools and teaching, Relentless Pursuit by Donna Foote summarizes the history of Teach for America as it profiles the experiences of first-year teachers in Los Angeles. Engaging and thought-provoking read. It tracks 99 women who arrived in Australia in after being sentenced to "transport" in England and Wales.
Some of them received life sentences for very minor crimes. It should be great reading for anyone with an interest in crime and punishment or Australia in general! I highly recommend either or both, though you are on notice: don't expect any familiar "North Atlantic" sensibility here, rather, be ready to encounter a distinctive moral universe! Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates A classic. Don't let the movie with Leo and Kate scare you off!
It's intense, well written and will make your head spin The Underground City by H. L Humes A big book that takes a bit of time to read. A fascinating, detailed novel set in France during and after WWII from the perspective of an American special ops soldier. The characters are very appealing, and the setting really takes the reader into the Native American cultures of Arizona and New Mexico. We will miss him. Two Rivers , by T. Suspense, love, and betrayal told in flashbacks is the story of a widowed father his daughter and an orphan.
Nice gentle mystery that kept me entertained. Double Bind , by Chris Bohjalian. Psychological thriller about a social worker and the homeless. There are characters brought in from the Great Gatsby era. I liked this authors book Midwives better but this was worth reading also. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Strout is a Bates alumna and now a Pulitzer Prize winner!
How can you not read this novel? It is a collection of short stories of people from a small town in Maine. You get insight of Olive in almost every chapter as she tries to understand herself and her life in painfully honest ways. Margaret S. Wroblewski has written a powerful story around an inauspicious plot line, a mute boy whose family raises thoroughbred and well-trained dogs in rural northern Michigan. It is a kind of Hamlet story, with family betrayals and mis-communications, largely told from inside the mute boy's head and through lots of interaction with the dogs, a real trick for a writer.
William H. Full disclosure: Bill Tucker was my Bates roommate and is one of my oldest friends. A psych prof at Rutgers, he has written three well-argued and for a non-scholar, readable books around the broad theme of individuals or organizations that claim to be doing unbiased social science when in fact they are advancing racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic or eugenic causes. This new book on Raymond Cattell, a leading 20th century psychologist often regarded as the father of personality trait measurement, traces the scholarly dismay when Cattell, the author of hundreds of books, articles and standardized instruments for measuring personality, was found to be the author of a series of publications on racial segregation and eugenics.
The partition of India as part of the end of the British empire created not only great suffering and violence, but one of the largest migrations in human history, with about 12 million people moving to get across national and religious boundaries that had not existed until the partition. It is reasonably unusual to find a film and the novel on which it is based that are both top shelf, but true in this case. Dozens of voyages to North America. A slice of history of France and North America.
A history of Franco Americans in Lewiston, Maine, from to , who subscribed to neither survivance maintaining their separateness nor assimilation erasing their heritage. They accomplished acculturation, becoming Americans, but retaining for a long time their identity. The human psychology of dealing with traffic. Considers the variation in different places in the U. Treats questions such as whether you should merge early or late when a lane is closed ahead.
Quotes statistics that show "dangerous" narrow streets with distractions are safer than "efficient" thoroughfares like Russell Street but maybe we knew this already. I have been meaning to send you this, excellent book about college girls who's identity got switched unintentionally at an accident scene where one died and one nearly so, months of recuperation The Last Lecture , by Randy Pausch, I may have put this on last year's list, but it is worth repeating. It is so inspirational, it's a must!
Not for everyone, but I love the series by J. Robb, Lt. Dallas, Homicide books, great if you love crime drama!! Happy reading But that's fine, because it's fascinating!
There's also some great stuff on why male wood frogs all sing together, when only one really needs to in order for them all to attract females. And he answers the question: Why do hummingbirds come north before many of the nectar-bearing flowers bloom? After I finish this book, I'm going to start in on his others. There are enough to keep me going for quite a while. A novel based in Maine.
Amy Jaffe, Career Counselor. Humorous and observant, Delisle's treatment demonstrates that drawings with text can match solo prose, no sweat. Give me a comic book, please. For fans of Patrick O'Brian's and C. These are the best humor from the "New Yorker" magazine. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, a book we read aloud to each other, is a powerful story of a young, intelligent, literate woman who is sold into slavery at the age of 12, and who is obsessed with being free and returning to her native village in West Africa for the rest of her life.
We followed her through about sixty years of her life on three continents, with all the hardship, prejudice, and soul-wrenching pain of enslavement, which is often complicated by her abilities and intelligence which she must hide from her masters. Freedom does come decades later, but it is a freedom in a world where only the force of her will and personality keep her surviving. The ignorance of even the "good" whites to the implications and cruelty of slavery become a vehicle for her to further her goal, but only as a tool of the abolitionists and often at the cost of her personal dignity.
To a white authority figure who insists that she has "profited by being enslaved" and vehemently deny's slavery's cruel branding, she bares her old breast to show the brand she was given at Lawrence Hill has written a breathtaking book and created Aminata Diallo, a remarkable woman. Both books deal with the everyday experiences of the life of civilians during a war. Greeks and Turks, some of each of whom are either Muslim or Christian, and most of whom happily rely on each other's religions when it suits their needs Muslim woman concerned for her soldier son asks her friend to "light a candle to the Virgin for me" , live together in simplicity and peace until WWI starts far away in Europe.
Turks and Greeks are forced to choose sides in a war that has nothing to do with them. And then religion and nationalism imposed by others starts ethnic cleansing, forcing Greeks who don't speak Greek to leave Turkey for Greece, where they are shunned, and Turks are forced from Greece to Turkey. The small town life and ambiance is destroyed, the friends and fellow citizens scattered, and no one has a clue about what it is all about. A poignant, anti-war story, and for me a reminiscence of my time in Turkey and Greece.
I recommend this book to anyone who still thinks that war is an answer to any problems, and to all who think that Muslims and Christians can't live in peace and harmony together.
It is tender and funny, and a sly critique of French social conventions. The book is a generally well written summary of his career and his opinions of and his involvement in the major health issues of our day. Written for a general audience, I learned a lot about retroviruses, oncogenes, stem cells, Congress, pharmaceutical companies, publishing companies, and open access journals. Dark summit: the true story of Everest's most controversial season by Nick Heil N. Well, ten years later, in a world that is as ever totally unforgiving to careless humans, risky expeditions and unscrupulous outfitters have done it: eleven deaths, two abandonments, and recriminations galore.
What is the What? I'm on a mystery jag. A real delight. Great distractions. Grown Up Digital by Dan Tapscott. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson This is the intriguing story of Trond, an aging, grieving man living in a self-inflicted isolation. He has given up his former life for a solitary existence partially out of a life-long yearning to be left alone, but mostly out of grief for the sudden death of his wife. But when he realizes that his new neighbor is a figure from his past it triggers a host of feelings and memories that Trond has been trying to avoid for a long time, and in flashbacks we are taken back with him to the summer of his fifteenth year — a summer that forever altered the course of his life.
Beautifully written and memorable! Based almost entirely on the life of Ines Suarez who lived from to , this is the historical fictional account of life in the 16th century and the birth of a nation. Poor and nearly destitute, Ines had a rough life in Spain. Alone because her husband has left to make his fortune in the new world she eventually sets out to search for him. When she arrives Ines learns he has been killed. Determined to make a new life for herself Ines decides to remain in the new colony.
Together they undertake the founding of the country of Chile. You will not be able to put this book down! The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry The book starts when the main character, Towner, receives a call from her brother telling her that her something-year-old Great Aunt, a lace reader, is missing and she must return home to Salem, Massachusetts. The reading of lace had been a tradition of the all the women in their family, and Towner was no exception. Although she wants no part of it anymore, she loves her aunt and feels she has to face her bad memories and go home.
Towner returns after being away for over 15 years and is immediately immersed in all the troubles of the past. It is interesting to follow the writing of author Barry as she writes through the eyes of Towner, who sometimes lives in her dreams of the past. The story moves quickly as you try to determine if what Towner is thinking is real, or the memories from childhood twisted over time.
Interesting information about lace reading and lots of surprises in this book! All through the book, I felt: "I know these people. I know this town—maybe better than the people I really know, and the town where I really live. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 60's—as seen through the stories of black "maids" in upperclass white households, written by a young white woman who has grown up in the culture and encourages the middle-aged women to tell her their stories. The stories are powerful, chilling, and especially shocking to me, as a college student from the 60's.
Perhaps reading it then would have made me more of an activist. Her involvement with characters who grow real though their letters and telegrams weaves a heartwarming story of love, quiet heroism, friendship, and loyalty over time. History: A Novel by Elsa Morante. Never preachy, Morante forces us to see that we are always subject to political forces, even when we don't want to be.
She won several awards for her novels and is one of Italy's premier authors. Wilson He came and spoke here. His book celebrates those moments when we are not quite right with the world and our lives, and when we are compelled to reflect and generate new ideas and new ways of being in the world. The books follow the mysterious "Corporation" and its leader Juan Cabrillo. Cabrillo and his crew of mercenaries with a conscience are able to cross the high seas in their 'rusting' tub unmolested, seeking out those beyond the arms of the law and dealing out justice to any who would plot chaos on a global scale.
It was probably on last year's recommended list. Here if you need me: A true story by Kate Braestrup. A wonderful memoir by the chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. His writing style is friendly and conversational, as though he is telling his story face to face with the reader. His story as a struggling actor making it into the limelight of celebrity carries you on a personal journey that is laced with comedy and sadness. With the pending release of yet another acclaimed movie, one may be interested to learn what life experiences made him the person and actor that he is today.
An engaging story, memorable characters, and a dynamic writing style. And the extreme controversy surrounding the novel only makes it more appealing! Four strangers are thrown together and are forced to live together and grow, learn, and develop together during troubling times.
A very moving and deeply emotional story. The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky — A very long, very interesting Russian novel centering on the four Karamazov brothers and the murder of their father. It combines courtroom drama with mystery with many musings on man's place in the world and the existence or lack thereof of God. Gripping and powerful! Narrated by the ghost of the trip organizer who dies before the trip commences. This book includes a lot of historical fact regarding Burma.
A very engaging and interesting read. Each chapter is narrated by a different daughter. Another book that integrates the actual history of the Congo and its post-colonial history. Really fine, spare writing. Readers are transported to a small town in s Iowa, where we get to intimately understand John Ames, an old Congregationalist minister with a young second wife and a six-year-old son.
Ames is dying of heart disease, and he is crafting a family history and memoir to leave behind for his boy. At the same time, he is feeling conflicted about how much he should say to his wife about a friend's son who left Gilead in disgrace but recently returned, befriending and bonding with his wife and son. It is truly wonderful how the author gets inside the head of this year-old man and shares his thoughts as he is approaches the end of life, and the peace he wants to make with life.
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in Here those insights are illustrated with examples from everyday life, business, and sport. An easy introduction to better strategic thinking. I learned things in this book — about animals, about the different ways people think, about 'disorders,' and so much more — which, I think, will forever influence my own perspective on the world. It certainly has defended my desire for lots of hugs or squeeze machines — you'll know what I mean if you read the book!
Water for Elephants , but Sara Gruen — This book sweeps you up, right along with its protagonist, onto the traveling circus train. Boy's Life , by Robert McCammon — This book is filled with the magic of being young but also the realities of change and the passing of time. It takes place in a small, Alabama town, but every chapter is action and imagination-packed, from shoot-outs to dinosaurs. McCammon encourages nostalgia in the reader, not only for the innocence of childhood, but that time in history, not too long ago, in which people were sure that "the world'll always need milkmen.
Omnivore's Dilemma , by Michael Pollan — This might be a cliche choice, but, more than any other book, this has made me rethink my lifestyle. I like that Pollan not only presents the problems with our current food consumption, but offers more efficient solutions. The book is full of wellthought-out points and counter-points which force you to chew on your own daily decisions, as well as lots of tasty factoids. I just fine Pollan's writing so persuasive, and yet so honest and common-sensical.
The Free Press, But whether she spoke up or not, we understand something about the shape of the marriage to come. Angela tells her hilarious stories of being broke in college. Great comical detail and a fun read. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch You probably already have this suggestion, as it was a big seller this year. But this is an excellent book and a great graduation gift! Highly recommended. Written in the first person plural go figure, but for a reason , it chronicles the lives of inmates at a New York TB sanitorium, hitting on class, immigration, anarchism, women in science, public health, power, and of course love, deception, healing landscapes, big meals, revenge: this book has everything!
Go immediately to the College Store and buy it! The Elegance of the Hedgehog , by Muriel Barbery is a very different book but has some of the same themes about class, knowledge, and humanity.
Its protagonist is the concierge of a swanky apartment building in Paris who is compelled to hide her formidable intellect, till she is discovered by two other outsiders. A great book about why it matters to educate yourself. Life in a small Maine town told in a series of precise and unnerving stories. Liz Strout has an uncanny ability to make you love and loathe a character at the same time: so lifelike!
I wish I could remember the others I've read this year, but those are ones that stand out to me. She writes beautifully about her experiences as her family is resettled in Minnesota after the Vietnam War. It is a very quick read that provides a glimpse into the lives of these young adults as they begin to make their ways here.
It is an interesting take on the story, one you don't expect at all. It would be a great choice for a book group. On the darker side, though. It is the story of an autumn's adventures of a very quirky family of four young ages sisters and their dad. The characters are marvelous: quirky, like I said, and some nerdy, some obstinate, all well-meaning and very accepting of one another. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments. He recommended I read it but be prepared. It's not for everyone, and it brings in the Columbine tragedy and images thereof in a big way, but if you like Lamb's other books, you should like it.
I still think I like his previous one better. I also have been reading Such things are" : memoirs for change from Dadaab, Kenya and Lewiston, Maine , which I've enjoyed very much. I knew the other 2 kids had read it and that a movie had been made of it, but he piqued my curiosity, so I read it, quickly of course a treat in itself. I liked it! With action ranging from New England in the early 's, to Haiti during Toussaint L'Ouverture's rebellion, to the Barbary Coast, this novel is fairly typical of Roberts' style.
It is a little bit detective story, a lot of adventure and a little bit of romance, extensively researched with plenty of historical details. Without futher delay,. It has adventure, history, politics, relationships, cultural revelations, self-discovery. What more could you want? Temple Grandin is autistic, and has her Ph. This book focuses on her ability to see the world as animals see it, and how that has made her a resource for the food production industry.
It is a good look at the human side of veterinary medicine, from both the vet and owner perspectives.
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It will make you laugh and cry, and remember the true value of deep, sincere empathy. This would be a good book to read with or to a year-old-aspiring-vet type kid. I've been on an escapist kick lately: Philip Pullman's Dark Matter trilogy who ever thought those were for kids?
Academy vs. I also worked through some Orhan Pamuk, which is gorgeous but takes too much concentration to read when busy. I have been catching up on fiction so some of the following were on previous lists but worth repeating: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen-much more interesting than I imagined! Russo humorous The Meadow by J. Here are some of the better, lighter ones! Made me laugh out loud at times, set in Ireland. The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. Makes you laugh, sometimes you tire of the main character but not enough to stop reading They do refer back to characters and events.
The Other Woman by Jane Green. Would you believe the Other Woman is the "Mother-in-Law? I stayed up too late reading these I have now chosen the works of Willa Cather. If you like novels about everyday people from the past you will enjoy hers. All the books that I have mentioned are found in our library. I continue to enjoy the books written by Kathy Reichs I believe I have recommended her books in the past.
If you like a little learning details of forensic investigative methods mixed with your intrigue, Kathy Reichs is an author you will enjoy! Three reads, one for when you want something wintry on a muggy day, two to celebrate the sheer delight of a summer day up here, one for sitting on the porch:. Clementine : He's just always blaming me for stuff. Lee : Like what? Lee : Did you do that? Clementine This is going to be a long and confused one. I am really struggling to find meaning behind the loss of so much potential, and even more than that, the loss of actual, really good moments of genuine storytelling magic.
Of course, it would be callous to first not acknowledge the loss of the livelihoods of many employees in a company that has folded - be it as allegedly toxic an environment as I have heard it is - in an industry that these people have fought tooth and nail to get into. They are stopping production of their last project in the works, the final season of The Walking Dead. Honestly, some of this stuff is so genuinely aggravating and heart breaking that it helps to think of the things that remind you of why you cared about a company in the first place.
She is a character of color and has multiple moments in the game I played the First Season that show her vulnerability, her strength, her sense of humor, and her personality. Make no mistake: when The Walking Dead: Season 1 debuted in , Clementine was a revelation, not only in terms of being a video game character, but in the general culture as well. They did so much work and told a variety of different stories that it boggles the mind.
Alas, the problem with their closure has been one that I have seen coming for a while now. In the same way that figuring out where to start with explaining why this company matters, explaining what will cause this company to join the list of tragedies I have lived through that originate from being a gamer is not easy. The top off the list has been easy to spot for someone who played The Walking Dead: Season One back when it first came out. I may have pointed out five of their games that I have played and can confirm or otherwise have it on good authority that they are true gems, but they have more than four game series under their belt that are chores to play or are otherwise just not good.
That's not a great track record, to be half great and half bad, if not outright terrible. I know awfulness is relative, but from what I have heard, people who love the games I have pointed out earlier felt varying degrees of disappointment from or outright anger towards the following titles: Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones , Jurassic Park, Back to the Future —. They did all of this in the five years and some change between that game and this year.
It is a game that fatigued me so much that I did not have the will to seek out Tales from the Borderlands or Batman. This is the game that I would point to as proof positive of the inherent failings of the Telltale system. But it quickly becomes apparent that the game engine has been pulled over from the Playstation 3 era into the next, and it works as well as you would imagine it would. Lag eats into time you need to make split decisions and into scenes meant to be action-packed or emotional. I do hate spoilers, and I am sorry, but the only way to explain the problem is by spoiling the end of Minecraft: Story Mode , so you have been warned.
Spoilers abound for the following two paragraphs! There is a scene in the game where the comic relief pet pig, Reuben, dies. Mind you, this is after the events of the game have lead to some apocalyptic doing, which lead to the destruction of a lot of stuff as well as what can be surmised to be the deaths of many — human — characters. But when the protagonist, Jesse, finds his pig dramatically dying, not only does he have an emotional breakdown that he has lost his best friend, but this pig is given a funeral that would be fitting for a major political figure. In light of the deaths of many people.
Potential buried beneath mediocrity that had no reason to be there, then topped off with something that pulls you out of the experience so hard you remember it ironically enough years later. That last one hurts especially, because I envision people making things I like not having to do so in an uncomfortable, toxic — damaging — environment. On top of it being a bad environment to produce in, this was a company apparently well-known for implementing the industry plague known as Crunch.
The funny thing is that there are believers in Crunch who think that it somehow results in a better end product. Yes, the burn out in this company is legendary, much like CD Projekt Red, apparently where starry eyed workers were being chewed up and spit out through this system so fast it could make your head spin. The final insult seems to be that as soon as the end came, the final season of The Walking Dead was killed halfway through, leaving people who paid for the full season hanging in the wind.
Guys, paying for something like this up front is sometimes a bad idea. I would also not be surprised if a few somebodies sue the ex-heads of this company for their treatment of their workers as well as charging customers for a product they never deliver on. Update: while writing this, I found out that the ex-employees are currently in the process of suing their old bosses. Update: while writing this, apparently the last season is due to be given to another studio to finish. A bad reminder, perhaps, that this game meant so much to its players and to many of the people who made it, but that at the end of the day, it was still a product and was discontinued like Crystal Pepsi.
This went on a lot longer than I expected. I was more emotional and had deeper concerns on this subject than I thought I did when I started. I am honestly very interested in hearing what you have to say about this. Do you have any good memories of the company? Do you think this is a pattern that might spread to more of the game industry? Kayla loves all things weird, wonderful, and macabre.
The children made the animal sounds as each asked Squirrel to play. Read it together to find out why Squirrel was so busy! We enjoyed doing this flannelboard chant, too. Fun, learning, excitement -- going somewhere beyond your usual routine. The biography is about someone your grandfather knew. The history mentions a martyr of your faith.
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The lure for me is places I have been -- or been near. Travel writing goes there directly, of course. Miles from Nowhere , anyone? Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon novels take me to national parks I have seen. Same for anything about the battlefields or cities I have visited. If I can connect even a small part of my life to what I am reading, the reading becomes more of me. The latest catch is a classic -- Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac , one of those books I've been intending to read, since I lived, as a young man, near where it takes place.
Leopold died 70 years ago, right after writing the book. So, reading A Sand County Almanac more than 40 years later was bittersweet, as I wish I had read it then, learned from it, and maybe visited Leopold's land. But maybe I will yet take that trip, and create an even closer bond between great writing and my own life experience.
The Design It! Each session we use open-ended projects encouraging children to use their imaginations as they build creative thinking and problem solving skills. The first Wednesday of each month is Construction Zone. The second and fourth Wednesday of each month are when we offer our Design It! The theme changes each time. Please check the schedule listed below for themes through the remainder of the year. The third Wednesday of each month is Block Play! This is a great time for kids to come build with our big blue blocks and our Keva planks. PBS will reveal the winner on October 23rd's episode.
I'm curious which book will win. I have my suspicions, and my hopes. I've already tried some books off the list that I had never read and I know I will try more in the days and months to come. They were good!! Yes, I know. How lucky am I that my favorite book is on the list so I can vote for it! Granted, none of my other top 5 are on there and so your absolute favorite may not be either. But perhaps an author you love is on the list, or a book from your top 10?
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. One of my favorite things to do in Family Storytime is share a flannelboard activity! Flannelboards can help tell a story, provide visuals for a song, or even be made into a game! I place each monster on the flannelboard usually asking the children to help me count them , then I sing the song. As each monster falls off of the bed, I remove one monster from the board. One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor, and the doctor said. No more monsters jumping on the bed! Book Review: Damn Fine Story.
Each answer creates more questions and problems. Put differently, every answer to every question — every solution to every problem — has consequences. Questions have answers, and answers lead to more questions. These chain together, ultimately, into a story. As someone who has read more than a handful of books on the craft of writing fiction, I can say that they tend to fall in a couple of directions through the execution of creating a narrative.
What he wants to teach you is the heart of what it means to tell a narrative. Wendig believes that the way you tell a story is the most crucial aspect of a narrative. This strikes true in a way — people will remember the way you react to them more than they will remember the content of what you say to them. I have had numerous conversations with people over what it is that draws them to a specific narrative, genre, or creator, and a lot are honestly drawn to what they end up loving because of the way those narratives are packaged.
To Wendig, his heroes in storytelling are people like his father, who could tell the story of how he lost his finger and spin it into a legendary and entertaining yarn. Much of his beliefs on what makes a narrative worthwhile have held true, long before stories were ever written down, and they feel like ones that he has battle-tested after having written numerous stories.
At the very least, much like what Wendig believes is the most important aspect of telling a story, the book itself is very entertaining.