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Timothy J. Bazzett "BookHappy" RSS Feed (Reed City, MI USA)

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A Critical Friendship: Donald Justice and Richard Stern, 1946-1961
A Critical Friendship: Donald Justice and Richard Stern, 1946-1961
by Elizabeth Murphy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $43.85
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for literary scholars and booklovers of eclectic tastes, July 8, 2014
A book about writers, particularly writers who are not widely known, is always going to be a rather hard sell in the publishing world. So you know that a writer or editor who undertakes putting such a book together is doing it as an act of love - for good writing and good writers. Elizabeth Murphy, as editor of the correspondence between poet Donald Justice and his friend, fiction writer Richard Stern, has accomplished such a labor of love in a superlative and admirable fashion. A CRITICAL FRIENDSHIP was a pleasure to read. A few years ago I read Lyle Larsen's fascinating critical study of the wary friendship between a young Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein (Stein and Hemingway: The Story of a Turbulent Friendship). Well Murphy's book is just as good. But while pretty much anyone who reads knows who Hemingway and Stein are, unfortunately the same is not true of Justice and Stern.

I knew of Richard Stern through only one of his novels, which is probably his best known and most successful, Other Men's Daughters (Triquarterly Books), a book I read shortly after college back in the early 70s, and a couple more times since. And while I was making my way through Murphy's book, I also read one more, A Father's Words, which should have been equally well-known, but is not. The thing is, Stern is a very accomplished and wonderful writer, but like so many other equally talented authors, he never got the readership he deserved. But he was enormously respected within the literary community of writers as a "writers' writer" - a tag that is often the kiss of death commercially. Why is that, I wonder?

Donald Justice? Well, to the general reader his name may not mean a lot, since, commercially at least, poetry has always been the poor relation to fiction. But in the course of a writing career that spanned more than fifty years Justice won numerous prestigious awards and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1980. He received grants from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. His collections were finalists for the National Book Award several times. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003. In the last years of his life he was also offered the Poet Laureateship of the U.S., an honor he had to decline because of poor health.

But getting back to the letters in this book, I found them, for the most part, to be an absolutely fascinating look at the early, struggling days of two writers who became friends when barely out of their teens and remained good friends for the rest of their lives. (Justice died in 2004, Stern in 2013.) Justice's letters come from Miami (his hometown), California (at Stanford), North Carolina (his wife Jean's home state and where they both attended college), Missouri, and Iowa City (where both men earned their Ph.D.'s). Stern's come from New York, Indiana, Europe and Chicago. Stern taught at the University of Chicago for over forty years (a job that Justice turned down). Justice, on the other hand, bounced from place to place, ever curious about other places, taking teaching jobs at Princeton, UC Irvine, Syracuse, the University of Virginia, the University of Florida at Gainesville, and, of course, Iowa. The letters, dating from the late forties to the early sixties, focus mainly on what the two men are writing at the time, and sometimes on what they are reading too, as well as current films and literary trends and gossip. Justice is perhaps the 'snarkier' of the two, with occasional snide comments such as one about the "corn" poetry that mutual friend Paul Engle was writing, or the "crap" that the Partisan Review was printing - this at a time when he was still trying desperately to get his own work published. Justice includes in many of his letters to Stern pieces of poetry he is currently working on, and asks for input and suggestions. Because of these inclusions, we see early versions of poems later published, an interesting look at the creative process.

One odd thing about Justice's letters is that he was always talking about the stories, or novels or "novelettes" he was planning or trying to write. (In fact he published very little fiction, but two of his short stories were included in O. Henry Prize Stories annuals.) Stern, likewise, began by trying to write poetry, but apparently decided early on that fiction was his forte - all the better for us.

My method of reading A CRITICAL FRIENDSHIP differed quite markedly from my normal reading in that I was forced to keep two bookmarks - one in the text and one in the endnotes. Because Murphy was super conscientious about explaining every obscure reference in the letters, and I was glad she was, because letters written more that fifty years ago can indeed contain many mysterious things to modern readers. In particular there are many, many writers and academics mentioned herein who have long since been forgotten. But there are also many who have not: Robert Lowell, Saul Bellow, Randall Jarrell, Allen Tate, Vance Bourjaily, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, John Crowe Ransom, Thomas Rogers, R.V. Cassill, Norman MacLean and Peter Taylor, to name a few.

Besides the numerous literary references and name-dropping, I also loved the letters' descriptions of graduate school life in Iowa City, with all the usual student poverty, worries about being drafted, junky cars, shabby apartments and furniture, and BYO student parties. Except for the draft worries (I'd already done my hitch), I could relate - been there, done that. Paul Engle, who was, I believe, the first director of the Iowa Writer's Workshop at the time, is mentioned in this example from Justice -

"Paul Engle and his wife have a farmhouse about thirty miles out at which they hold their wild parties, and though they installed plumbing, it soon broke down, so they erected an immense stone privy some yards from the house with room for twelve seats, toward which the guests must plunge through Iowa's sleet and hail to enjoy the unpartitioned conviviality of relief."

Justice's letters vastly outnumber Stern's in this collection, a disparity I found a bit disappointing. I was pleased, however, to find a few letters included that were written by Jean Ross Justice, Don's wife. I only recently read both of her collections of stories (Family Feeling (Prairie Lights Books) and The End of a Good Party and Other Stories), and they are both excellent. Jean came from a semi-famous family of North Carolina writers. Her two brothers, Fred and James, both wrote fiction, and her sister, Eleanor Ross Taylor (wife of Peter Taylor) was a well-regarded poet.

One of the books Justice was reading in 1955 was poet HART CRANE'S LETTERS. He called it a "very moving book. It's having a curious effect on me ... I don't know how to describe it."

That almost sums up how I feel about Elizabeth Murphy's book which gathers together all these long ago letters from two important twentieth century writers. I don't really know how to describe it. But its effect on me will linger, I suspect, for a long time. It is a meticulously edited and researched piece of scholarship that is at the same time an immensely enjoyable read. Highly recommended for literary scholars and all booklovers of eclectic tastes. Bravo, Ms. Murphy! (four and a half stars)

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

A Father's Words: A Novel (Phoenix Fiction)
A Father's Words: A Novel (Phoenix Fiction)
by Richard G. Stern
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.15
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5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and moving story of one father. Highly recommended, July 3, 2014
Richard Stern, who died in 2013, is said to be one of those sadly neglected "writers' writers." Before this I had only read - and loved - Other Men's Daughters (Triquarterly Books), probably his best known and most successful novel. Now, having read this one, A FATHER'S WORDS, I appreciate his craft even more, because this is, quite simply, a damn good book. It's about being a father, about selfishness and compromise and other difficulties of love and marriage, about filial love, losing one's parents and mortality. In short, this is a novel about all the important issues of being a human being.

Yes, deep stuff. Even war gets its due: "Is war essential to industrial capitalism, the only sufficiently rapid consumer of goods? ... A nation's a nation when it has weapons. Without them you have bad feelings, not corpses."

But fatherhood is the central subject here, represented mainly in the prickly and difficult relationship between protagonist/narrator Cy Reimer and his slacker son, Jack. Cy is a writer, Jack seems to pride himself on being nothing, a taker. Tension, guilt, anger, disgust - a soup of emotions results.

And on his own father, dead at 92 of dementia, Cy says -

"Ten years before his death, when his mind was still all right, I gave him a Woolworth notebook and suggested he write his autobiography. [telling him] 'You've had a wonderful life and you're a wonderful fellow. Everybody's life is precious. Things that no one else has ever known will disappear from the world when you do. It doesn't have to be a great book. Anything you write, I'll love. So will the children.'..."

This hit me right in the heart. I proposed the same thing to my mother when she was ninety. She started to write, got nearly 40 pages in, then stopped and never started again. She died at 96, but I will treasure those pieces of her life that she did write down. I wonder if this interest in our parents' lives always comes too late. In another scene, Cy meets a middle-aged woman on a plane, flying to visit her aged and ill father -

"... she was going to get him to talk into a tape recorder about his life. 'I'll have his voice, his life.'..."

Cy Reimer, divorced and living with a much younger woman, has two sons, two daughters. A writer who values his solitude and privacy, his relationships wit his ex-wife, his sons, his daughters are all fraught with complexity - guilt is a constant.

"A father's words" are so important - what he says, how he says it. Words have lasting effects that reverberate through lives, down through generations even.

Damn, this was a good book! HIGHLY recommended. And now on to an even older Stern novel, In Any Case. Stay tuned.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
by Clifford Stoll
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.52
131 used & new from $1.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Five-PLUS stars; a terrific page-turner. Highly recommended, July 1, 2014
I was ready to give THE CUCKOO'S EGG a mere four stars, because this is just not really the kind of book I normally read. But then I decided that wouldn't be fair, or an accurate reflection of how I ended up reading it. Which was nearly nonstop from beginning to end. The book is almost 400 pages long and I read it in less than two days. A jacket blurb says it "reads like a le Carre novel," and it does, no lie. It's that gripping and compelling a read. Except this is a spy thriller that involves no real physical danger to its hero-author, Cliff Stoll. But whodathunk that a narrative that plays out mostly behind a desk, plunking computer keys, could be this exciting? Well, it is; it keeps you turning and turning the pages, 'cause you just can't wait to find out what happens next.

Cliff Stoll seems an unlikely hero for an international spy thriller. The guy's an astronomer by training, but also a largely self-taught computer geek, a Berkley hippie sort who doesn't own a car and bikes everywhere. He enjoys cooking, sewing, and Quilting! But the thing is, the guy is cool, very cool. And he's funny too. In the course of the book you learn a little about his relationship with his partner, Martha, which is pretty laid back, unofficial and, well, cool. You also learn quite a lot about the early days of computers and the pre-internet age, when PC's were still something of a novelty and giant mainframe computers ruled. Well, they probably still do. And he also introduces you to the dangers of non-secure computers, how hackers can infiltrate and steal stuff, pretty important stuff in fact. You see how Cliff gradually eases himself from the hippy fringe into the heart of the military industrial complex, accidentally, as it were, just doing his job. Other players are folks from the FBI, CIA, NSA, and lots of DoD contractors too - the whole Beltway bunch and others scattered all over the USA.

And, most important of all, Cliff Stoll is a great storyteller, a natural writer. Or, if he's not, he's got me fooled. I know I've 'discovered' this book almost twenty-five years late, but man, is it ever a terrific read! Five-PLUS stars. Highly recommended. Yeah, VERY highly!

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

When the Emperor Was Divine
When the Emperor Was Divine
by Julie Otsuka
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.50
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starkly evocative. Highly recommended, June 29, 2014
WHEN THE EMPEROR WAS DIVINE, by Julie Otsuka, is a starkly evocative look at the way Japanese-American citizens were treated - or, perhaps more accurately, MIStreated - during the Second World War. Camp Topaz, in the Utah Desert, was just one of many internment, or 'relocation,' centers where whole families were kept locked up behind barbed wire fences with armed watchtowers surrounding them. Such internment camps have often been compared to concentration camps, but I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. Nevertheless, a whole group of Americans were rounded up, dispossessed and imprisoned for 3-4 years simply because of their ethnic heritage.

Otsuka's novel is perhaps even more effective because her protagonists - four members of one family - are never named. They are simply, the mother, the father, the boy and the girl. The unnamed family members could be any Japanese-American family of that time. The father is spirited away in the night; the rest of the family is given only a few days to pack their suitcases and leave their homes, transported first to processing centers - in stables - and then to a desolate desert camp in Utah. The psychological, physical and emotional effects of this callous uprooting are devastating. Otsuka's eye for detail and ear for dialogue are simply superb. Her novel is a microcosmic look at what happened to tens of thousands of families across the western U.S.

I was immediately reminded of the excellent YA classic, Farewell to Manzanar, which I read many years ago, one of many books about the relocation camps. But Otsuka's WHEN THE EMPEROR WAS DIVINE is especially stunning and unique in its multiple and anonymous points of view. This is an outstanding fictional look at a shameful episode in our country's history. Highly recommended. (four and a half stars)

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

by Geraldine Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
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4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction done well, June 28, 2014
This review is from: March (Paperback)
I have never read Little Women (Bantam Classics) in its entirety, but have read parts of it, and found it just a bit too much on the 'sweet' side for my reading taste. I have viewed a couple of the film adaptations of the book though and thought both of them very entertaining.

Geraldine Brooks's novel, MARCH, is of course a fictional look at the absent father from LITTLE WOMEN, the daddy who went off to war, the US Civil war in this case. Brooks chooses to use the same sort of genteel style that Alcott's 19th century classic employed, and, while it works to good effect and is certainly appropriate, it was still for me a bit off-putting. Nevertheless, this is a well-told and engrossing story of one man with high principles and ideals who goes off to war and is severely tested, and perhaps even irreparably broken in the end by bearing witness to the casual butchery and barbarity of battles and guerilla actions. In an Afterword, Brooks says that she was writing MARCH against the contemporary backdrop of the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan too, I presume). But even before I'd read this admission by Brooks, I was struck by this line in the novel -

"You cannot right injustice by injustice. You must not defame God by preaching that he wills young men to kill one another. For what manner of God could possibly will [this] ...?"

What kind of God indeed? Or 'Allah' whose name is so often invoked in the jihads currently going on throughout the middle East? Brooks's well-researched look at the awful price of our own Civil War resonates with truth and authenticity even today.

The way the author weaves in real historical people and events is most effective, and she does this immediately, as her narrative opens with the October of 1861's Battle of Ball's Bluff in Virginia and the awful human toll it took. And in looking at the March family's life in Concord before the war, she shows them as friends and intimates of Emerson and Thoreau and supporters of the fiery abolitionist John Brown. Hawthorne gives an address in one scene and the Marches read Uncle Tom's Cabin to their girls.

Geraldine Brooks is an extremely talented writer and on top of her game in the arena of historical fiction. (I read her Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague a few years back and it too was very good.) MARCH is, quite simply, a very good story which mixes in real history in a most exemplary fashion.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

The End of a Good Party and Other Stories
The End of a Good Party and Other Stories
by Jean Ross Justice
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.54
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful stories, wonderful writing, authentic voices. Very highly recommended, June 25, 2014
Three months ago I read Jean Ross Justice's new book, Family Feeling (Prairie Lights Books) (2014), and was so moved by its stories that I knew I had to read her earlier collection, THE END OF A GOOD PARTY (2008). Now I have. I was not surprised to find that the earlier work is every bit as good as FAMILY FEELING. But where the new work was primarily focused on the problems and cares of growing old, the PARTY book contains stories with more varied themes and the characters range in age from adolescents (foster children Joanne and Essie, in "No Kin") to the very old (Miss Agnes in "Years Later" and Eva in "Buried Money"). But even in these and other stories, Justice very often employs a narrative voice looking back at events that happened years or decades before, a voice filled with experience and often tinged with regret.

Perhaps the theme that surfaces most often in Justice's GOOD PARTY stories is the academic life. More than half of the eighteen stories deal with writers, teachers, graduate students, or the girl friends, spouses or ex-spouses of same. These stories offer a window into the lives of these couples and families, and the tensions involved in living with a self-absorbed or 'difficult' writer. Perhaps the most effective of these is "Unfinished Business" and the most poignant, "The Two of Us." The locales jump from North Carolina to Florida to Iowa, New York and back. Iowa City, home to the acclaimed University of Iowa Writers Workshop, figures prominently as a setting, from the fifties all the way up into the new century. The competitive, sexually charged, hothouse atmosphere of that place is perhaps best illustrated in the stories, "The Next to Last Line" and "The Sky Fading Upward to Yellow: A Footnote to Literary History." The Iowa City prominence here is not surprising, given that the author lived for many years in that town with her poet husband, Donald Justice.

In just two collections (from stories written over the past forty-plus years or more), Jean Ross Justice has proven herself to be a master of the short story form. Every one of the stories here is a polished gem of perfection. But if I were pressed to pick a favorite it would probably be "The Three of Us," with an aging narrator who drives regularly to visit her husband Emmett, a former academic now sequestered in a nursing home with advancing dementia. Lonely, she meets Joel, an old acquaintance, now a widower, and they enter into an affair of mutual aid and comfort. The tone of the story is perhaps best characterized by a line describing the route she takes to visit her husband - "the old highway with its strip of discount bakery outlets and secondhand furniture stores - the trail of the outworn and abandoned." Indeed.

Wonderful stories, wonderful writing, authentic and absolutely believable characters. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.43
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4.0 out of 5 stars Deservedly a bestseller. Highly recommended, June 20, 2014
Ben Fountain's novel of the Iraq War, BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALF-TIME WALK, is that rare bird in contemporary fiction: a bestseller that deserved to be one. Fountain's nineteen year-old soldier protagonist's innocence brought to mind another fictional innocent, Melville's Billy Budd. But in Fountain's world, modern-day Texas, it wasn't so much the forces of evil that strove to bring down the young hero, but the collective forces of indifference and greed. Okay, maybe that does constitute evil. Whether Fountain's Billy will ultimately survive is left open.

But there's already been plenty written about BILLY LYNN, so I'm just gonna say it's a helluva good story. Although the first half of the book was just a mite sluggish, the last part more than made up for it. I didn't find any evidence that the author had ever served in the military, so I have to say he certainly did his homework, because he nailed the language and attitudes of our all-volunteer army. Fountain knows about right and wrong; and he's also done some hard thinking about the spectacle and ludicrousness of professional sports, and is not impressed. His portrait of America's complacent civilian populace, and the Dallas Cowboys organization in particular is hardly flattering. I suspect many of his fellow Texans were not pleased with this book. For standing up to that kind of colossal greed and hypocrisy, and for writing a extremely readable modern morality tale, this old vet salutes you, Ben Fountain. Highly recommended. (four and a half stars)

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
by Gail Caldwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.33
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5.0 out of 5 stars A love story about friendship, highly recommended, June 16, 2014
"It's an old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."

These opening lines from Gail Caldwell's memoir LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME for some reason brought to mind the opening of Erich Segal's bestselling novel, Love Story:

"What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. The Beatles. And me."

I know, I know. Caldwell's book is about a real life friendship between two women, and Segal's is a near smarmy sentimental piece of pop fiction, but you don't get to choose what pops into your head when you're reading.

Caldwell's book came out in 2010, and I remember reading about it at the time and wanting to read it, but didn't get around to it until now. I was interested in the book because I had read her friend Caroline Knapp's Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, a very moving memoir of how a dog helped her to cope with loneliness and a long recovery from anorexia and alcoholism. And I liked that one enough to read another Knapp book, a posthumous collection of her newspaper columns and essays called The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays.

Caldwell is a good writer, but reading about loss and grief is never easy. However, the first half of LONG WAY HOME, with its loving and sometimes humorous descriptions of how the two met and how their friendship deepened, makes it a bit easier. New Englander Knapp and Texas-born Caldwell were both basically loners, devoted to their dogs and their writing, and to a small circle of close friends. Knapp had struggled with anorexia, Caldwell had polio as a child, and both were recovering alcoholics. Caldwell was a swimmer, Knapp a rower. So they had much in common, not to mention their beloved dogs, Lucille and Clementine - an added bonus for readers who are dog lovers.

This is a deeply felt story of how women bond. I was struck by this passage, feeling very much the outsider -

"'Men don't really understand women's friendships, do they?' I once asked my friend Louise, a writer who lived in Minnesota. 'Oh God, no,' she said. 'And we must never tell them.'"

And yet this book is perhaps one of the most heartfelt tellings of such a friendship that I have ever read.

It is the second half of the book that is so hard, so painful, the part that describes Knapp's final illness and death from cancer at the age of forty-two. In the last days Caldwell tells of wearing a T-shirt to the hospital with two of the first important commands learned in dog obedience classes printed on the back: SIT! STAY! And, she tells us, in those last days and final hours, "that was what I did. I sat and I stayed."

This is not a book you can blithely say, I really enjoyed it. The subject is too sad, too serious. But you can certainly learn something from it. And if you have ever lost someone you loved, human or canine, you will definitely relate.

Gail Caldwell has written a beautiful tribute to her dear friend, and to the joys and mysteries of a deep and true friendship. And maybe I wasn't so wrong after all in thinking of the Erich Segal book. Because LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME is also a love story in the most elemental sense. Caroline would have been so pleased. Highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
by Ralph Moody
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.30
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story of growing up on a ranch in 1900s Colorado. Highly recommended, June 8, 2014
I found this ragged old copy of Ralph Moody's LITTLE BRITCHES at a local library sale. Bought it for my grandson, but my wife picked it up to look at it and ended up reading it straight through, and said, "You'd like this yourself. Try it." And so did I, read it straight through, I mean. It's that good a story. Ralph Moody's own story about growing up on a poor dry land Colorado ranch. It begins in 1906 when Ralph - the "Little Britches" of the story - was 8 years old and covers the next three years, telling the story of Charlie and Molly Moody's family of five children - Ralph was second oldest - trying to make a living after moving west from New Hampshire, looking for a dry healthy climate, where Charlie might recover from tuberculosis. Young Ralph wants to be a cowboy, and he makes a darn good start, learning to ride and handle a team of horses from the time he is 8 or nine. By the time he is eleven he has even learned some stunt riding and how to cut cattle under the tutelage of his sure-enough cowboy pal, Hi. He has also learned to drive a hay rake and plant vegetables and maintain a garden and build an outhouse and other rough carpentry - much of this from his father, who is very inventive and clever with his hands. He learns about breaking horses and rides in a rodeo before he is twelve. All of these things are related in simple straightforward storytelling that does not fail to delight and keeps you turning the pages wondering what will happen next. In other words, Ralph Moody tells a good story - his own. You will be reminded of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Little House Collection Box Set (Full Color) series of books. In fact, Moody wrote several more memoirs before he was finished, in addition to several historical novels for young people. In researching Moody (1898-1982) a little, I found it interesting that he did not begin to write until he was well past fifty. By then he had a wide variety of experiences to draw from and just kept on writing them down. Moody is such a natural story teller and engaging writer I am going to try to read some more of his stuff. LITTLE BRITCHES I will recommend highly. (And yes, we are giving it to our grandson to read. I hope he likes it as much as we did.) Oh, and P.S. The book was first published in 1950. In 1970, Disney adapted it for a film called The Wild Country, starring Ronny Howard and his little brother, Clint.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, REED CITY BOY

Spoon River Anthology (Dover Thrift Editions)
Spoon River Anthology (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Edgar Lee Masters
Edition: Paperback
Price: $2.70
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5.0 out of 5 stars An enduring and important piece of literary Americana, June 4, 2014
Read SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY in college, more than forty years ago. I still have my Signet Classic edition, having toted it halfway around the world and back. I still think of Masters's masterpiece full of town characters whenever I walk through our own local cemetery. One of these days I'm gonna read it again, just like I want to reread Winesburg, Ohio or Main Traveled Roads. Spoon River has been around for almost a hundred years now, and will always be an important piece of literary Americana.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

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