The Steel of Men and Structure

  High Steel – The Daring Men Who Built The Worlds Greatest Skyline, 1881 to the Present, by Jim Rasenberger Quite often when writers take on a particular slant on history, they leave out the critical human element, i.e., how that particular bit of history affects the people involved. Not so with High Steel. Rasenberger…

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

NOTE: I wrote this little essay for the local paper, sure that they would make a big fuss over it and publish it. As high hopes sometimes go, they ignored it altogether and functionally refused to publish. So I’m sharing it here. It was 1967, I remember, and I was all but trembling with The…

More on Sing, Unburied, Sing

  There’s a larger sense of story that preoccupies Jesmyn Ward in this book, and that’s the history of our United States, which has forever shouted freedom and equality from the rooftops while living quite another reality. History flies at ten thousand feet, some say, while personal life flies much closer to the ground. Ward…

Every Journey Ends at Home

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward In the South, perhaps more than any other part of these United States, wealth determines both a family’s worth and their protection from harm. And in the South the way that truism affects  blacks hasn’t changed. The prize-winning Sing, Unburied, Sing is another of Ward’s with the poorer people…

Taming Literacy in This Age

Is the novel dead? Why do the remaining book readers today prefer nonfiction to fiction? When I had been working as an engineer for some 6-7 years, the Chief Structural Engineer called me in and said, “Bob, I need you to write a letter for me.” What he meant was a scolding letter to a…

The Personal Importance of Reading – A List

In the same way that baseball (ahem), the U.S.’s national sport, has been eclipsed by football’s intermittent excitement and basketball’s half-clothed athleticism, reading, as a mode of enjoyment and entertainment, has been kicked to the curb. First by movies. Then by TV. Then by streaming technology of all sorts. Books have been considered sources of…

Consultation No. 3 – With John Steinbeck

Here we are up to our ankles in yet another imagined conversation with an American writer whose work has been, and continues to be, acclaimed for the passion of his characters, even when he leaves them subject on occasion to a side-splitting, acerbic humor. Charley, Steinbeck’s dog,  has been dead some forty years on the…