Lately, I've taken to combining a pair of books and I've found the reading experience doubly enlightening and enjoyable.
On Writing, by Stephen King.
Draft No. 4, On the Writing Process, by John McPhee.
One of my writer friends told me about the Stephen King book. I found the McPhee book in an independent bookstore in the touristy, artsy-crafty town of New Hope PA.
I enjoyed reading both books. Reading about writing, I found, was just as enjoyable as reading a good story by writers I religiously follow. And I, probably and inadvertently, learned a few things about the craft along the way.
One writes fiction. The other non-fiction. One is, in my opinion, a stay-at-home writer, at least relatively. The other is a man who has seen a heck of a lot of the world and done very interesting things, including teaching writing. One creates a world and gives birth to characters in his imagination. The other visits a spot on our planet and meets and interviews the characters who live there. Both writers then commit their characters, one set observed in an imagined world, one set observed with eyeballs conveying images into the brain, into ink. And on the pages, both sets of characters, if you were to prick their fingers with a needle, would bleed red blood.
I rate both books five stars.
A man has to know his limitations.
But that’s not all a man has to know. For instance, a man needs to know how to get the most amount of the most important work done in the shortest time for the least effort. A man needs to be in spiritual communion with his environment. A man has to have his priorities straight.
Case in point:
The back patio (Top pic) today doesn’t look much different from Monday when I scooped a path to the grill. Northern exposure in the back. No need to scoop the whole patio. I wasn’t going to be sitting out there. I wasn’t going to get the mower out of the shed. Review principal points of philosophy from para. 2. Yep. Hit ‘em all.
Now look at the driveway pic from today. Monday, it had two inches of snow on it just like the back patio did. But. But it has a southern exposure. Southern exposure sun loves to eat snow off driveways, if the temp climbs above twenty-five. So, what I did, I snowplowed my snow shovel done the left side of the drive, then down the right side, and then down the middle. Took four minutes. Scooping the whole drive takes forty-five minutes. Since I was in communion with my environment—and I have a weather app—I knew we were having a warm up today. Lo. Review principal points of philosophy from para. 2. Yep. Hit them all.
Dirty Harry knew some stuff, but he didn’t know everything.
Ice on the Missouri River near the Lewis and Clark boat house in St. Charles MO. So winter came to town on Christmas Eve Eve. We had a white Christmas, and aside from a couple of warm days, we've had a lot of can't-quite-make-it-to-freezing-from-the-bottom kind.
This is like the winters we had around here in the olden times. You know the ones where school kids walked six miles through six-foot snow drifts and uphill both ways? Back in those days, when I was in grade school, I do not remember a winter where we didn't do a fair amount of ice skating. In recent years, it's rare to have the sustained low temps needed, but this year, ponds and lakes have supported the activity.
Ah, the good old days. Good not because of the ice skating, but because we could walk to school without packing a taser and pepper spray.
The summer was dry. Fall colors were projected to be rather blah.
But, as it turned out the colors of autumn, in our area, were as glorious as I’ve seen them, in the—Glorioski, can it be true?—twenty-one years we’ve lived in this place. Resplendent trees arrayed in ambers, burgundies, reds, yellows, golds line the roads and rivers and fill the neighbors’ yards. A glorious display.
I think I never saw a tree
So lovely be
Until I read about one
In a fool’s poetry.
Actually, I am Jack Zerr, altitudinally disabled compared to JR. I guess I just wish I could be him. Sometimes. And of course ever since Tom Cruise played him in the movie, well, it kind of super amplified my wishing.
Anyway, I just finished reading the latest Jack Reacher story, "The Midnight Line." I pretty much like the Reacher books. But this one I read as an ebook. So the dedication was at the end. and it was dedicated to recipients of the Purple Heart. Kind of got me, finishing the book on Veteran's Day.
So Thanks Lee Child for an exceptional Veteran's Day memento.
To all my Vet buddies, and especially Purple Hearters, Blessings on Vets Day.
Reminder of the Local Author event at the Spencer Road library in St Charles from 10 a. to 2 p. I will be there peddling books, including Guerrilla Bride.
I have read any number of histories of the Second World War and of the war in the Pacific. One of the reasons I keep plowing over this same field is that new information keeps coming to light, new interpretations are put to well established facts. Some of this new or re-interpretation twists my skivvies into a knot, but, as I’ve mentioned before, readers of history should keep their noses open to detect the smell of a writer’s pants burning, or not.
I just completed “The Fleet at Flood Tide, America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945,” by Hornfischer. I appreciated the author’s preface as much as I did the text. He gives a nice treatment, I thought, to moral questions warriors face. He offered no judgement, and thank you, no sops to the purveyors of political correctness, but just laid out the questions. In the text, he describes how various individuals in positions of authority dealt with those moral questions.
Furthermore, it gives a great treatment of amphibious ops.
Darned good book.
After his first day courting Deborah Simmons, Emerson decides Paw treats him like a field hand, a slave, or one his draft animals. He decides he isn’t those things. He will go visit beautiful buxom Candace Barlow. She’s flirted with him. If he has to marry Deborah at least he will have one night with a woman of his own choosing.
The night with her on a blanket in the Barlow apple orchard is heaven on earth, but the next day, Candace’s brothers find out about his dalliance with their sister. They come looking for Emerson.
Emerson didn’t know the baptism names of the Barlow brothers, but everybody called them Big and Tiny. Big was six foot two and weighed two hundred pounds. Tiny was six four and weighed two fifty. Big was strong, but Tiny was stronger by a fair amount.
Folks said, “Them two Barlows got the strength of five men.” And someone else would say, “And the brain of half a man.” Which of course they never said in earshot of Big. He was the one with half a brain.
Tiny drooled. Once in a saloon in Terre Haute, a fellow laughed at Tiny. Big said, “Hit ’im.” Tiny did. Sent the man flying and crashing into a post holding up the second story of the building. Broke the man’s jaw. He wound up simple in the head and drooling more than Tiny ever had.
Big and Tiny came looking, and Emerson climbed on Horse and skedaddled heading west. Horse was mostly Maw’s buggy puller, and not much of a riding animal. But Horse was what he had.
John Zerr is the author of four novels, The Ensign Locker, Sundown Town Duty Station, Noble Deeds, and The Happy Life of Preston Katt.
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