216 Chapters
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
Medium 9780253220042

6. Scenes in a Roman Theater

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM TUNISIA

 

With a sigh, Hedi plunked himself down on a stone seat in the Roman theater. As the last of the afternoon’s tourists straggled off and disappeared among the ancient walls, he stared dully at the grand view of the ruins and the green hills of the Tunisian countryside beyond.

He hadn’t done very well today. Only one hat sold. His mother would be disappointed, and he wouldn’t blame her … having to make those hats every night after her day’s labor in the fields, weaving straw till her fingers were sore. Tomorrow he’d try harder. Midwinter break from school gave him a few days to earn money, and he couldn’t waste the chance.

It’d be so much better, Hedi often thought, if he could be a guide, more interesting and more money. Once in a while he did manage to latch on to a friendly couple and show them a few sights … the temple, the theater, the baths and marketplace—and best of all, the communal toilet where twelve people could sit at a time. That always got a laugh, and Hedi would get a few small coins. But that was all. A real guide had to be older and know a lot more.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574416367

Murray’s Problem

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253019028

Poetry

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Beautiful. Acrylic and collage on canvas. 180 × 150 cm. ©2013 Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo. Image courtesy of artist and Gallery MOMO.

after Warsan Shire

Your son is dumb, a nobody,

without honor, country or history.

Talk to him.

The books he reads do not.

Have you not told him

life is mean but fair,

God created the stars, wind and sea

and slave ships passed,

God parted the sea

and slave masters drowned?

So what that your son’s belly

bears the marks of your teeth

and blunt edges of your fist.

So what that his father is a ravaging wolf.

Your son is a shark

with no reverence for life,

not even his own.

Does he not know

that no loving outstretched arms,

no prayer, salt, or grail will save him?

Fathers tell their daughters

to not go near him,

not let his words be pomegranates

or the soft-drip thaw of ice on the myrtles.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253000958

Letter to a Reader

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Since you ask for an account of my writing, I will give you one. But I do so warily, because when writers speak about their work they often puff up like blowfish. Writing is work, and it can leave you gray with exhaustion, can devour your days, can break your heart. But the same is true of all the real work that humans do, the planting of crops and nursing of babies, the building of houses and baking of bread. Writing is neither holy nor mysterious, except insofar as everything we do with our gathered powers is holy and mysterious. Without trumpets, therefore, let me tell you how I began and how I have pursued this art. Along the way I must also tell you something of my life, for writing is to living as grass is to soil.

I did not set out to become a writer. I set out to become a scientist, for I wished to understand the universe, this vast and exquisite order that runs from the depths of our bodies to the depths of space. In studying biology, chemistry, and above all physics, I drew unwittingly on the passions of my parents. Although neither of them had graduated from college, my father was a wizard with tools, my mother with plants. My father could gaze at any structure—a barn or a music box—and see how it fit together. He could make from scratch a house or a hat, could mend a stalled watch or a silent radio. He possessed the tinkerer’s genius that has flourished in the stables and cellars and shops of our nation for three hundred years. My mother’s passion was for nature, the whole dazzling creation, from stones to birds, from cockleburs to constellations. Under her care, vegetables bore abundantly and flowers bloomed. The Great Depression forced her to give up the dream of becoming a doctor, but not before she had acquired a lifelong yen for science. When I think of them, I see my father in his workshop sawing a piece of wood, my mother in her garden planting seeds. Their intelligence spoke through their hands. I learned from them to think of writing as manual labor, akin to carpentry and farming.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253356864

22. Name

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Although Walden has always been attributed to Henry David Thoreau, its author was actually christened David Henry Thoreau. At some point after college, Thoreau simply reversed the order of his first two names, perhaps to accommodate his parents’ habit of calling him Henry, perhaps as an early exercise in self-determination. This step, which accepts the given as an occasion for rearrangement, provides the key to Walden.

Walden’s reputation as a near-sacred text often provokes disappointment in its readers. If we expect the book to reveal the meaning of life, we may feel let down by its lessons, which, when paraphrased and stripped of Thoreau’s elevated prose, can seem platitudinous: life is what you make of it! Reduce your needs, and you can work less! Nature is beautiful! In fact, however, Walden proposes that the secret to living well depends not on the discovery of some hidden truth but rather on rearranging what already lies before us. Thoreau doesn’t propose to reinvent civilization from scratch; he simply reorders its existing components. This process, outlined in “Economy,” involves the promotion of fundamental needs over inessential luxuries, reversing the unnatural order he detects in his neighbors’ lives. As early as 1837, in his Harvard commencement address (“The Commercial Spirit”), Thoreau had revealed his readiness to shake up even a biblical dispensation: “The order of things should be somewhat reversed,” he had announced. “The seventh day should be man’s day of toil, wherein to earn his living by the sweat of his brow; and the other six his Sabbath of the affections and the soul.” In Walden, the ratio of leisure to work has increased: “I found that by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living” (50). Suggesting the continuity of his ideas, Thoreau’s conclusion uses the language of his Harvard speech: “It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do” (52).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574416367

A Father’s Scars: For Creigh Deeds, Tragedy Leaves Unending Questions: The Washington Post / By Stephanie McCrummen

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press PDF

A Father’s Scars: For Creigh Deeds,

Tragedy Leaves Unending Questions

The Washington Post

November 2, 2014

By Stephanie McCrummen

HE WAKES UP, and even before he opens his eyes, he can see his beautiful, delusional son.

Gus, Creigh Deeds thinks.

He lies in bed a few minutes more, trying to conjure specific images.

Gus dancing. Gus playing the banjo. Gus with the puppies. Any images of Gus other than the final ones he has of his 24-year-old, mentally ill son attacking him and then walking away to kill himself, images that intrude on his days and nights along with the questions that he will begin asking himself soon, but not yet. A few minutes more. Gus fishing. Gus looking at him. Gus smiling at him. Time to start the day.

He gets out of bed, where a piece of the shotgun he had taken apart in those last days of his son’s life is still hidden under the mattress. He goes outside to feed the animals, first the chickens in the yard and then the horses in the red-sided barn. He leads the blind thoroughbred outside

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574416367

The Favor: Los Angeles Times / By Christopher Goffard

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press PDF

The Favor

Los Angeles Times

A Two-Part Series, December 21, 23, 2014

By Christopher Goffard

Would Power Trump Justice?

* A stabbing on a college campus leaves a student dead. One of the accused is the son of a former

Assembly speaker. The victim’s family hopes that won't matter.

First of two parts

A young man’s grave sits on a cemetery hill. To reach it, his parents drive through serene, graciously shaded neighborhoods where they see him still. As a toddler, throwing bread to the ducks. As a sixth-grader, on a razor scooter. As a lanky teenager with a cocky sideways smile.

Fred Santos, the father, steers his Toyota Prius into Oakmont Memorial

Park in the Bay Area suburb of Lafayette and follows the road to the

38

Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 3

summit. He parks amid the pines and oaks. He carries sunflowers as he and his wife, Kathy, walk to the spot.

LUIS FELIPE WATSON DOS SANTOS

June 27, 1986—October 4, 2008

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253018632

Vodou, History, and New Narratives

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Kate Ramsey

PRACTITIONERS OF HAITIAN Vodou have historically not objectified the religion as such but rather said that they “serve the spirits.” This connects to the way Vodou challenges the boundedness that the concept of “religion” seems to presume—from transformatively assimilating aspects of Roman Catholicism to centrally incorporating healing processes. Yet if many practitioners, or Vodouyizan, still prefer to describe a practice, outsiders have long insisted on naming an entity, the ascribed identity of which has reflected usually a great deal more about Haiti’s place in the geopolitical order of things over the past two centuries than about the complex of beliefs and rituals so nominated.

“Vaudoux” first came into the written historical record on the eve of the northern Saint-Domingue uprisings that culminated in the overthrow of first slavery in 1793 and later French colonialism in 1804. This was in the work of Médéric-Louis-Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry, a Martinican-born lawyer best known for his voluminous encyclopedic profile of Saint-Domingue, completed in 1789. Moreau wrote his Description topographique, physique, civile, politique et historique de la partie française de l’isle Saint-Domingue at a time when colonial views of the devotional, healing, and protective practices of African and African-descended enslaved and free people of color had changed markedly from earlier in the century. While such rituals were once considered harmless or even a “safety valve” for the slave system, that view shifted across the Caribbean as planters and colonial authorities came to see them as empowering collective forms of resistance and thus as a grave threat to the colonial enslaving order. Moreau included lengthy descriptions of what he called “the dance of Vaudoux” and “the dance of Dom Pèdre” in the first volume of his work, representations that became influential templates for subsequent depictions of rituals by these names. He identified “le Vaudoux” as an all-powerful and omniscient being, embodied by a nonvenomous snake, for whom a “King and Queen” served as “ministers,” presiding over those seeking counsel, protection, and healing, and leading devotional dances and offerings. Moreau’s descriptions are voyeuristic, written as though he had been an eyewitness to these ceremonies, while at the same time casting extreme doubt on that possibility. He specifies, for example, that the meetings were always held at night in remote locations with the greatest secrecy observed, under the threat of death for revelation.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574416367

Fred Nelligan

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253000958

Words Addressed to Our Condition Exactly

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

In the fall of 1971, seeing that I was floundering, a veteran teacher who had I floundered himself when he was twenty-five gave me a book by a writer he knew down in Kentucky. “You might find some guidance here,” he said, handing me The Long-Legged House.

It was a paperback edition, small enough to fit in a coat pocket, printed on cheap paper, unassuming, not the sort of book one would expect to confirm or change the course of a life. The cover illustration showed a cabin perched on a steep riverbank, with a view across the stream toward green ridges fading away into the distance; a curving flight of stone steps led to the uphill side of the cabin, which rested on the ground, while the downhill side rested on poles, evoking the long legs of the title.

The author’s name, Wendell Berry, was unknown to me, but his photograph on the back recalled men I’d known while growing up in rural Tennessee and Ohio. He wore a work shirt unbuttoned at the throat, with a T-shirt underneath and striped coveralls on top; beneath a billed cap, his face lay in shadow, the mouth slightly open and jaw set as if he were catching his breath in the midst of sawing or plowing. In the faint background of the photograph, instead of the usual desk littered with papers or shelves of books, there were blossoms, as of hollyhocks or fruit trees in flower. The biographical note identified him as a teacher and farmer, as well as the author of three collections of poetry, two novels, and the slender book of essays I held in my hand.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253001818

Part 2 The Personal and the Political

William O'Rourke Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the mid-1980s, I was sitting in the living room of the first house I ever owned, watching the television show, This Old House, on PBS. Bob Vila was doing a rehab project on Cape Cod. As he would, on occasion, he took a side trip to view other real estate (Vila more often went to factories to see how house products, windows, etc., were made). He went to a home in Hyannis, on the Cape, with a view of the bay. In front of it was one of the last beach-front properties for sale in the town.

Vila pulled up behind the house, because there was no garage, and not much of a front “yard,” since the house was built on what was still dune, but a fairly beat-down one, where the land was becoming solid earth, not shifting sand.

There was bright, blinding light all around, the sun glancing off the water of Cape Cod bay and my black and white TV seemed luminous, dream-like, as Vila approached the home’s back door, which, more or less, functioned as a front door.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253018632

“My Spirit is There”

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

an interview with Edouard Duval-Carrié

Kaiama L. Glover

IN OCTOBER OF 2012, I interviewed Edouard Duval-Carrié—one of Haiti’s most important contemporary artists—at Duke University’s Haiti Laboratory, where he was spending a semester as a Visiting Professor. The interview was part of a documentary about Haitian art titled In the Eye of the Spiral, directed by Raynald Leconte. In these excerpts, Duval-Carrié speaks about a collective art project he completed in 2011 with faculty and students at Duke, and also about his past, present, and future as an artist seeking to represent Haiti.

Kaiama L. Glover: Can you tell us where we’re sitting right now, and what this place means to you?

Edouard Duval-Carrié: We’re here at Duke University, in North Carolina. We’re inside the Haiti Laboratory, which is one of the few international centers that focuses on Haiti with such intensity. The directors, Deborah Jenson and Laurent Dubois, invited me to put together a project with them. You can see it behind me. For this project I asked for input from the students—they’re not really students, but researchers, but I have fun calling them students because they are a little bit younger than me—and over the course of two days they brought me everything they could find in terms of visual material about Haiti, from Saint-Domingue through the Revolution, and all that has happened since then. All of them were doctoral students working in different areas, and we worked around a theme: “Haiti: History Embedded in Amber.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253000958

The Inheritance of Tools

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

At just about the hour when my father died, soon after dawn one February morning when ice coated the windows like cataracts, I banged my thumb with a hammer. Naturally I swore at the hammer, the reckless thing, and in the moment of swearing I thought of what my father would say: “If you’d try hitting the nail it would go in a whole lot faster. Don’t you know your thumb’s not as hard as that hammer?” We both were doing carpentry that day, but far apart. He was building cupboards at my brother’s place in Oklahoma; I was at home in Indiana putting up a wall in the basement to make a bedroom for my daughter. By the time my mother called with news of his death—the long-distance wires whittling her voice until it seemed too thin to bear the weight of what she had to say—my thumb was swollen. A week or so later a white scar in the shape of a crescent moon began to show above the cuticle, and month by month it rose across the pink sky of my thumbnail. It took the better part of a year for the scar to disappear, and every time I noticed it I thought of my father.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253356864

14. Genius

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Although Emerson famously said of Thoreau that “his biography is in his verses,” he described those verses as “rude and defective,” concluding that Thoreau’s “genius was better than his talent.” Without citing Emerson as the source of this famous judgment, Henry James extended its application to Thoreau’s prose, declaring in 1879 that “whatever question there may be of his talent, there can be none, I think of his genius.… He was imperfect, unfinished, inartistic … ; it is only at his best that he is readable.” Why did Emerson and James arrive at this opinion? What aspects of Thoreau’s writing prompted it?

While any list of writers with more talent than genius will always be a long one, the reverse is not the case. What American writers have had more genius than talent? Whitman? Gertrude Stein? Hart Crane? Thomas Wolfe? Has this imbalance occurred more frequently in America? And is it more common with writers, as opposed to other kinds of artists? We can start to answer these questions by noting that an artist needs to be lucky enough to have a genre available to him that suits his genius. Imagine if Larry Hart had come along before the flowering of the Broadway musical: he would have become, at best, simply a talented light-verse writer, a reduced version of his own ancestor, Heinrich Heine. Had Elvis Presley arrived before rock and roll, he might have developed into a minor version of his idol, Dean Martin, himself a lesser Sinatra. Elvis, of course, helped to invent the genre his genius required, and his ability to do so suggests a way to think about Thoreau and Walden.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253018632

Josefa Diago and the Origins of Cuba’s Gangá Traditions

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Emma Christopher

IN THE LATE 1830s or early 1840s, a girl who would later be christened Josefa was loaded aboard a slave ship in Africa. We do not know her original name. Like so much else of her life, it was jettisoned during her journey, considered irrelevant by those who held her captive. But the girl, like many of her shipmates, had a secret. Her heart was filled with treasure—songs and dances that tied her to her homeland, irrefutable proof of her identity and a buffer against the depersonalization of slavery.

We know how much Josefa cherished her songs and dances because even today, 170 or so years later, her descendants in Cuba still perform them. Now rather divorced of their original meanings, they are sung in languages the singers can no longer identify, intermixed with more recent compositions in Spanish. Yet they are rightly a matter of great pride, and regardless of how much has been lost they are a powerful assertion of identity. This identity posits the singers not just as people of African origin and people whose ancestors survived slavery, but as members of the Gangá-Longobá, a variant group within the larger Afro-Cuban population and even within that, a sub-group of the Gangá. It is an identity created in the Americas from the upheavals of their forebears.

See All Chapters

Load more