I am not an outdoorswoman, and my skills with an oar or a paddle are negligible. The last time I fished was with my dad when my family spent summer vacations in Wisconsin. I have never fired a gun, although I was good with a bow and arrow at one point. However, I loved this book. Peter Heller, who is an adventure writer, an outdoorsman, whitewater kayaker, fisherman, a recipient of an MFA in fiction and poetry, and much more, uses his background to good advantage. He has created a thrilling, poetic work with memorable main characters whose wilderness canoe trip is upended by a wildfire and men intent on killing them.
I was immediately hooked by the prologue:
“They had been smelling smoke for two days. At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because (More…)
In Acapulco everything slopes downwards to the sea. The mountains are green and lush. Houses are built into the sides of hills and on the tops of hills. We are here at the house of I do not know who, a man who plays some prominent role in the world of bull fighting. There is a group of men (boots, hats, gleaming teeth, all geniality), and Kelly and me. They might be ranchers, toreros, impresarios, or just friends, aficionados. I do not know, or, to be truthful, care.
The hospitality is impeccable, the dinner interminable and when the table has been cleared and the silent serving women have disappeared somewhere in the back of the house, the men are still seated, settling themselves to talk. Cigars are being lit and bottles opened. The mood is becoming more jovial, expansive. They’re launching into an evening of reminiscences, gossip and jokes and I sigh, despondent at the prospect of the long evening ahead. Though studiously polite, these men barely recognize my existence, I am simply not relevant, and I’m self-conscious, dismayed also at the struggle to keep up with the Spanish, the sheer exhaustion of trying to seem engaged. This, in the 70’s, seemed a requirement, I thought. Why am I here, I ask, not for the first time. (More…)
In 1960, during my freshman year at Harvard, I decided after reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road that studying and exams were a waste of time and that I’d take a year off to hitchhike across the country, experiment with drugs and sex, write a novel, and get in touch with my inner self.
Among those who weren’t exactly thrilled by this news was my father, who in an uncalm manner asked such questions as, “And how the hell do you intend to support yourself, may I ask?” Though a little vague on particulars, I assured him that the income from odd jobs and my writing, plus the seizing of various financial opportunities as they arose, should see me through.
The prospect of being drafted for two years by the Army caused me to amend plans, and in the summer of 1960 I enlisted in a military alternative then available: six months active duty followed by six years active reserve. My first stop: Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, for basic training. (More…)
Growing up in small town America where Route 66 went straight through it and with freedom to do most anything was just too much of a temptation for me. I was never thrown into a juvenile jail or correction facility, but I surely would have been had I grown up in a city. So, what did I do that was so juvenile?
For starters, the local culture was gun friendly, so I wasn’t very old when I acquired a BB gun, a perfect weapon to shoot out street lights and do other nasty things. At age 15, apparently my father thought I was old enough to handle a shot gun, so he bought me a 16-gauge automatic firing Remington, so I could hunt. I also acquired a .22 single shot rifle. (More…)
Early morning. I am in bed remembering that movie scene – – you’ve seen it – – in which the wife flings a suitcase onto the bed, grabs armfuls of clothes still on their hangers, pulls open drawers, stuffs everything willy-nilly into the suitcase, slams the lid shut and departs in fury. She’s had enough.
In my mind I play my own version of this scene, in which I am the fleeing woman, here, now, in this shabby hotel in Saltillo. I could. I could tiptoe across the wooden floor, remembering the closet door that squeaks, and make my getaway while I still can, before my husband wakes up and persuades me that we’re on our way to Mexico City, where things will be so much better. I long to get away from the oppression of narrow streets, heat, and the unrelieved atmosphere of the bulls.
The final straw has been our stay at a cattle ranch far out in the country, an experience disconcerting enough never to want to repeat. So I think: I could leave. Where to? I don’t know yet. (More…)
It was love at first sight. They met eating dinner outside at A1A Café in downtown Brandon, Florida, in October 1994. They clicked because of an unusual talent that they shared: the love of drawing cartoons!
They compared notes about drawing styles as well as unusual body and facial shapes throughout the meal and laughed often. They lingered over evening goodbyes. While one of them lived in Brandon, the other one lived in Des Plaines, Illinois. Would they ever see each other again?
I am describing the first time that my father Art, a professional cartoonist, met my future husband Tom, a high school art teacher who had drawn Popeye flip cartoons as a kid. My dad was sold on Tom as a possible boyfriend for me after that first meeting and was determined to help out our interactions in any way that he could. (More…)