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Here, There and Otherwhere: Volume 2, An Ordinary Woman at Extraordinary Times Paperback – April 8, 2013
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Paperback, April 8, 2013
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About the Author
Phyl Manning in her own words: Yes, I’m a writer—and largely because of one humongous bag of potato chips! It must have been 1936 when the Omaha World Herald announced a Children’s Poetry Contest. At five years old, I qualified. The newspaper even prescribed the title: “If I Could Fly.” Whee-ee! So yes, I rhymed up a poem of three verses: “If I could fly, I’d go up high/And catch hold of a cloud as it went by” and so forth. And my undistinguished literature won first place! So Kitty Clover Potato Chips (based in Omaha) rewarded me with a crisp new dollar bill AND the aforementioned bag of potato chips—a delicacy not experienced previously in those years of economic depression. Suddenly and permanently, I knew how to answer grownups who were always asking what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer!
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The early chapters of Vol. 2 do indeed focus on stories from Manning's early life. I chuckled at the idea of trying to discuss sex education with a 5-year-old when all young Phyl cared about was the spider she was watching. The story of Uncle Charlie and the tornado was one that I had to pause before going on to the next chapter. I was once again impressed with Manning's ability to draw out the deeper layers of a story and express those thoughts to readers in a way that makes them think. The stories of living in her grandfather's house as a child were both frustrating and heartbreaking. It was difficult to read about the callous actions of her grandfather without being upset by them, but Manning had a way of ending the telling with a more positive note of a lesson learned or life skill ingrained.
After the stories of her childhood, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading Manning's thoughts on a variety of topics that ranged from the proper use of punctuation (She had me giggling - no joke!) and which way the toilet paper should come off the role. These were not chapters I had expected, but I honestly enjoyed each one and was glad to have had the chance to read them and think about each one.
Later in the book, I was again surprised to read chapters not about Manning, but people she knew, particularly a woman named Roberta Kirshner. Roberta was a woman who spent her life caring for animals and protecting them. This was a woman Manning worked with at the Kirshner wildlife preseve, and it is apparent that Roberta was someone not to be forgotten by those who knew her. Each of Roberta's chapters were engaging and thought provoking. Even though they were not what I had anticipated, I again found myself glad they had been included.
The stories do return to Manning's life, recounting stories of Fisher cats and crocodiles that readers will enjoy, but really, whatever Manning chooses to write about, I'm willing to read it. I love her sense of humor, her ability to observe so much more than what is on the surface, and her excellent storytelling abilities mark her as an author many readers will enjoy.
hurdle with which any youngest of siblings
is familiar: it will forever be compared
with Volume 1.
And a comparison with a book that good is a
Some of Phyl's adventures in Volume 2 do take
place in exotic locations, or involve
interactions with exotic animals. Although
these particular events were experienced by Phyl's
friends or relatives, still her descriptions
of a close escape from head-hunting
aborigines, or of a cross-country flight
with a carry-on infant (infant TIGER, that
is) are as memorable as any scene from Volume
Most of these other stories take place in
settings more familiar to us at home. Phyl
still manages to uncover unique perspectives
on mundane activities even if their locations
are not exotic or foreign lands.
Phyl explains why, for example, the proper
dispensing of toilet paper (over or under
the roll???) is not as trivial a matter as
one might think.
And me, when I sort the wash, my requirements
are considerably more relaxed than Phyl's.
With only an occasional oversight, most of my
clothes go into the CLOTHES washer, and the
dishes are put into the DISH washer. Such
a casual approach would never satisfy the
more particular standards learned by a young
Phyl growing up in the mid-west during the
So Volume 2 will not fill your imagination
with as many far-off lands and peoples as
Volume 1. However Phyl's insights and
her light-hearted as well as well-crafted
style may give you new perspectives on our
Maybe you'll decide for yourself which volume
And whether or not it matters!
Although we have yet to meet personally, I feel like I have known her all my life. I hope there will be a volume 3. Irene Hamilton.