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Medium 9781771870801

A SNAKE STORY

Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
With one sharp motion and two pin-prick marks on his ankle, Steven Lattey’s world is turned upside down in “A Snake Story”. After a torturous journey to the hospital and a painful recovery, Lattey fixates on his escape from a premature death.



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Medium 9781771870849

Prologue

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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POWWOW ½ MILE. At the hand-drawn cardboard sign I turn from the grid road near Wanuskewin, follow a bumpy track over the prairie, and park at the far end of a long row of cars. I stroll among wailing children and unhurried adults, and their dogs, and climb up to the bleachers. And sit, one of three white faces in the crowd, waiting for the powwow to begin.

Beside the empty space, a cluster of men sits on the earth around a drum. They test the instrument’s skin with their sticks, and in a moment the pounding has begun.

The dancers enter the ring, elders and youngsters together, making their way slowly around the centre pole, some in elaborate headdress, all in a jubilation of colours. The drummers’ voices scale and fall — hi-ya, hey-you, don’t be left out. Newcomers join by ones and twos, a half-dozen partners join abreast and revolve in slow radial sweeps, stepping fancy to the urgency of the singers’ cries and the drum’s steadfast beat. The hair rises on my neck, my heart throbs in rhythm, and the circle fills until it brims with colour.

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Medium 9781780491929

Chapter Five - “Where the Hell is Everybody?” Leanna's Resistance to Armed Robbery and Negative Social Responses

Sue McNab Karnac Books ePub

Allan Wade

Leanna (thirty-five) and Jane (sixty-four) were robbed at gunpoint while closing a department store for the night, with “the take” for the day in hand. Two months later, Leanna phoned me to arrange counselling. We met six times over about six months while Leanna recovered and made some important life decisions. I found Leanna's descriptions of her experience especially compelling and, two years later, asked if she and I might record a conversation about the robbery. She agreed and allowed me to use the interview for training purposes. This chapter centres on a twenty-minute segment of this interview during which Leanna and I develop accounts of her responses to the robbery and to the series of negative social responses she experienced afterwards. As we explore Leanna's responses in detail, using active grammar and descriptive terms, Leanna emerges as an upright person who showed courage and composure while resisting the robbery and is justifiably indignant about the negative social responses she received.

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Medium 9780253018595

Islands

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

for Peter

That sky’s largeness and generosity reminded me of how pitiful I can feel on islands, where one’s ideas about the place amount to so much sentimental or ideological bullshit.

I AM WRITING this some time after standing at the edge of the bay for the first time. The bay’s edge runs parallel to the water, from east to west in a not-at-all-straight line. For students of master prints and drawings, a line occurring in nature is the original mark or beginning, inspiring artists ranging from DaVinci to Picasso and one or two hundred others, to wonder how to approximate that line’s naturalness on the page, in an artificial medium, just as I am trying to use another artificial medium—prose—to describe what I see: the water’s edge, little white pebbles embedded in light brown sand at the lip, sand that turns brown and then browner as baby waves wash up and over a little sandy beach like the one I stood on this evening. There was a moon, not full and not at all poetical; on the surface of the water, a small craft hobbled back and forth on the black bay water, like a legless man rocking back and forth on an expanse of black. I could not find irony in anything I saw. There was a bit of moon in the night sky. It killed me. That sky’s largeness and generosity reminded me of how pitiful I can feel on islands, where one’s ideas about the place amount to so much sentimental or ideological bullshit next to shoeless island dwellers with rust-colored heels tramping through pig shit putting pigs to bed, or other island dwellers sitting, legs spread, on a concrete step leading to a little tin-roofed house, a house with one or two rooms and black people coupling and talking their coupling in a bedroom in that house, maybe under a window crammed with stars. I like it here. I stay on this island on weekends, when I visit a friend who lives here, a friend I love like no other. It’s far north of the island my family came from originally, which is smaller, mean, and turned in on itself, like an evil-smelling root. Looking down at the black wavelets in the black night bay—the patterns were visible to me because of that piece of moon—I could not help but think of lines—lines made in nature, and then lines on a canvas or in a drawing, and how those lines were not really very different from lines of writing brought together to describe sensations such as the love I feel on this island with its bay, and my friend, whom I love like no other.

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Medium 9780253356864

6. Colors

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“Colours spur us to philosophize,” Wittgenstein once observed, but what are to make of Thoreau’s prodigality with them? In “The Ponds,” he begins a description of Walden by casually remarking that “All our Concord waters have two colors at least, one when viewed at a distance, and another, more proper, close at hand” (121). He doesn’t leave the matter there. The ensuing paragraph assembles twenty-nine separate mentions of color to suggest how the neighboring ponds and rivers appear under different conditions and from different perspectives: blue, dark slate-color, green, as green as grass, the color of the sky, a yellowish tint, light green, uniform dark green, vivid green, verdure, blue mixed with yellow, the color of its iris, a darker blue than the sky itself, a matchless and indescribable blue, more cerulean than the sky itself, original dark green, muddy, vitreous greenish blue, colorless … as … air, green tint, black or very dark brown, a yellowish tinge, alabaster whiteness.

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Medium 9781847778772

Shell Shock

Ford, Ford Madox Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

From Mightier Than the Sword, pp. 264–6.

At any rate, after I was blown up at Bécourt-Bécordel in ’16 and, having lost my memory, lay in the Casualty Clearing Station in Corbie, with the enemy planes dropping bombs all over it and the dead Red Cross nurses being carried past my bed, I used to worry agonizedly about what my name could be – and have a day-nightmare. The night-nightmare was worse, but the day one was as bad as was necessary. I thought I had been taken prisoner by the enemy forces and was lying on the ground, manacled hand and foot … and with the enemy, ignoring me for the time, doing dreadful stunts – God knows what – all around me …. Immense shapes in grey-white cagoules and shrouds, miching and mowing and whispering horrible plans to one another! It is true they all wore giant, misty gas-masks – but wasn’t that the logical corollary of the bitter-hating age that produced the mid-Victorian Great Figure? Wouldn’t, I mean, poison gas be just the sort of thing that, could they have invented it, the Ruskins and Carlyles and Wilberforces and Holman Hunts would have employed on their enemies or their blood-brothers become rivals? So their Germanic disciples used it when their Day came. Inevitably! Because the dreadful thing about nineteenth-century Anglo-Saxondom was that it corrupted with its bitter comfort-plus-opulence mania not merely itself but the entire, earnest, listening world. What effect could a serious and continued reading of those fellows have had but 1914?… And 193 …

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Medium 9780253356864

7. Death

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden lives up almost entirely to the purpose Thoreau announces in the epigraph: “I do not intend to write an ode to dejection.” (5) However varied his moods may have been during the book’s nine-year gestation, Thoreau produced a consistently optimistic work by sticking to a strict compositional plan: “I put the best face on the matter.” As a result, in the midst of so much high spirits, the famous penultimate paragraph of “Where I Lived and What I lived For” seems not only obscure but unexpected:

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimiter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. (70)

Thoreau had written like this before. Using the same odd phrase, “to front a fact,” he had previously imagined his enterprise as another kind of life-and-death struggle:

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Medium 9781552452585

Impossible to Die in Your Dreams

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

Impossible to Die in Your Dreams

Eliza: Soup out of Stones

When my granddaughter Annie was ten, she started talking like a wrestler from a fable. I regard you as a nail in the eye and a thorn in my muscle, shed say. I will trounce you, shed shout, with her arms raised, fists clenched. That was after the three-month period when she insisted on watching As the World Turns standing on her head with the backs of her knees propped against the recliner. She said it made more sense that way. Theres no contesting the wisdom of children. Now, there she is, all dolled up to the nines and tens, ready to wed. And in such a place! Im not one for religion, but still, a brewery tugs at the old constraints of credulity. And her sister Samantha, always the ornery one, scowling in the corner. Went and got herself a P-H-D and traipsed around the world. Places herself above weddings and other normal human interactions. Thinks tripping through a rice paddy in Vietnam lends her some smarts inaccessible to the likes of me and Bea.

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Medium 9781771870825

The Bush On the Grave

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub

THE BUSH ON THE GRAVE

Lloyd Ratzlaff

N THE PIONEER CEMETERY beside Diefenbaker Park near my home in Saskatoon, there is a grave on which a chokecherry bush is growing, hanging heavily some autumns with ripe black fruit. Vandals often desecrate other graves in that place, but as far as I know, they’ve never damaged this one. Beside the South Saskatchewan River, in the middle of a patch of prairie, in the centre of a grave, the bush stands over the remains of a little boy named Vernon Leo Kuhn, who lived in this world for six months in 1902 and 1903. It’s the only bush of its kind in the cemetery. I have often thought that, if it were done respectfully, those dangling clusters of cherries could be made into a unique wine. But no one ever seems to pick them; perhaps people are too superstitious to do it, or perhaps some fluke of nature allows them to ripen there until a person such as I comes along, ripe himself for the kind of experience which befell me there one afternoon of the first of September.

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Medium 9780892727605

Edging Up on It from The Edge of Maine

Down East Books ePub

Geoffrey Wolff

We may reason to our heart

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Medium 9780253000958

Honoring the Ordinary

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

For years, I could ignore the charges raised against the memoir, just as I could ignore the charges raised against burglary, because I had no intention of committing either offense. But then the circumstances of my life and the sad state of my country prompted me to write a book called A Private History of Awe, which I thought of as an extended essay about my lifelong spiritual search, but which my editor informed me was, indeed, a memoir. When the book was published in 2006, it bore that label on the jacket for all to see. And so, having joined the suspect company of memoirists, I began to take a personal interest in the accusations leveled against this literary form.

The most common accusations often appear in the guise of two blunt questions: How could you write a whole book about yourself? And how much of it did you make up? The questioners assume that a memoir must be an exercise in narcissism, and that it is likely to be dishonest to boot. One can easily find published examples that would justify either suspicion. There has never been a shortage of egotists or frauds, so it’s no wonder that some of them compose and peddle books. Although these two human failings often go together, for the sake of clarity I’m going to separate them, speaking first about the dangers of deceit and then about the dangers of narcissism.

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Medium 9780253000958

Reasons of the Body

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

My son has never met a sport he did not like. I have met a few that left an ugly tingle—boxing and rodeo and pistol shooting, among others—but, then, I have been meeting them for forty-four years, Jesse only for twelve. Our ages are relevant to the discussion, because, on the hill of the sporting life, Jesse is midway up the slope and climbing rapidly, while I am over the crest and digging in my heels as I slip down.

“You still get around pretty well for an old guy,” he told me last night after we had played catch in the park.

The catch we play has changed subtly in recent months, a change that dramatizes a shift in the force field binding father and son. Early on, when I was a decade younger and Jesse a toddler, I was the agile one, leaping to snare his wild throws. The ball we tossed in those days was rubbery and light, a bubble of air as big around as a soup bowl, easy for small hands to grab. By the time he started school, we were using a tennis ball, then we graduated to a softball, then to gloves and a baseball. His repertoire of catches and throws increased along with his vocabulary.

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Medium 9781574416367

The “Boys” in the Bunkhouse: The New York Times / By Dan Barry

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press PDF

The “Boys” in the Bunkhouse

The New York Times

March 9, 2014

By Dan Barry

Waterloo, Iowa

A man stands at a bus stop. He wears bluejeans, cowboy boots, and a name tag pinned like a badge to his red shirt. It says: Clayton Berg, dishwasher, county sheriff’s office.

He is 58, with a laborer’s solid build, a preference to be called Gene and a whisper-white scar on his right wrist. His backpack contains a jelly sandwich, a Cherry Coke and a comforting pastry treat called a

Duchess Honey Bun.

The Route 1 bus receives him, then resumes its herky-jerky journey through the northeastern Iowa city of Waterloo, population 68,000. He stares into the panoramic blur of ordinary life that was once so foreign to him.

Mr. Berg comes from a different place.

12

Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 3

For more than 30 years, he and a few dozen other men with intellectual disabilities — affecting their reasoning and learning — lived in a dot of a place called Atalissa, about 100 miles south of here. Every morning before dawn, they were sent to eviscerate turkeys at a processing plant, in return for food, lodging, the occasional diversion and $65 a month.

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Medium 9780253356864

38. X Marks Walden’s Depth

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

During the winter of 1846, Thoreau mapped Walden Pond, partly to disprove the local myth of its “bottomlessness.” Lying on the ice and taking soundings with a small stone and cod line, Thoreau produced surprisingly accurate measurements that revealed the water’s actual depth: 102 feet. He also observed what he calls “this remarkable coincidence,” which he drew on a map, “that the line of greatest length intersected the line of greatest breadth exactly at the point of greatest depth” (195). After leaving the woods, Thoreau would caution himself against ready generalizations: “Let me not be in haste to detect the universal law; let me see more clearly a particular instance of it!” (J, 25 December 1851). But in “The Pond in Winter,” he is quickly off to the races. Proud of his X, he begins to speculate:

Who knows but this hint would conduct to the deepest part of the ocean as well as of a pond or puddle? Is not this the rule also for the height of mountains, regarded as the opposite of valleys? (195)

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Medium 9781771870849

Epilogue

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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WHEN BALLPOINT PENS FIRST APPEARED in the Laird School, our principal regarded them as abominations, and swiftly decreed their banishment: “Pen and ink here on Monday!” — it wasn’t a suggestion but a commandment. And however we underlings liked to defy him then, I concede that fountain pens are more elegant than ballpoints: for fountain pleases the eardrum, and the nib scratches satisfyingly on the paper. Back in the fourth grade, there was always a bottle of Quink or Waterman’s under the desktop; and when it dwindled, Don’s Store had another one; and when his shelf was bare, the train from Saskatoon replenished it on Thursday — the inkwell, so far as I know, never ran dry.

I believe we readers and writers are engaged in reversing our incarnations. We restore the world to word. But why?

From the writer’s side, something presses out, pushes toward expression. And if the act of writing is not itself a pretty sight (as Christopher Lehmann-Haupt observes), yet the state of having written is one of the most blissful known to humans, rivalling even sex or religious rapture. From the reader’s side, there is a search for communion: the joy of discovering that someone has voiced our experience, and we are not alone; or disappointment that life has not been well-expressed, so we read on, or try to write it ourselves. And on the divine side, it’s said, in the beginning is the Word that means God — nothing in itself until pressed-out, formulated. Word becomes flesh, and flesh re-creates words, our human pluralism tending back toward singularity, and the trinity itself, perhaps, returning to the peace of union.

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