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Medium 9780253220042

8. The Plan

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN LEBANON

 

The moment the new art teacher walked into Rami’s classroom, he and every other boy bounced up straight in their seats. With her cheerful smile and green eyes, her shiny brown hair and pink smock that said “You Gotta Have Art,” she looked like all the flowers of springtime.

“We are very fortunate, boys,” announced the principal in his best speech-making Arabic, “to have Miss Nuha Trabulsi to teach you art for the rest of the term. Of course, she has to go to other schools in the camp as well, and therefore she can come here only one day a week, on Thursday. But she will make you learn many things about art—how to draw and how to paint, and maybe other things.” He glanced at Miss Trabulsi for confirmation.

She smiled. “Definitely,” she said.

Rami thought, only one hour a week? And he’d have to share Miss Trabulsi with more than a thousand other boys?

Others might have been discouraged by such odds, but not Rami. After one good look at Miss Trabulsi, he decided on his life’s mission—for the next three months, at least.

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Medium 9780253019028

Bras-Coupé

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

translated from French and introduced by Sarah Jessica Johnson

LITTLE ENOUGH IS known about Louis-Armand Garreau. His fictions tell us that he was an anti-slavery Frenchman and intimate examiner of antebellum Louisiana. His patchy biography reveals a man whose political writings necessitated a life of on and off exile from France. By the 1830s, Louisiana was a known and fairly stable haven for French and francophone refugees of many backgrounds; political outcasts were common contributors to the multilingual literary world of the newly American state. Garreau’s short story, “Bras-Coupé,” translated here for the first time into English, is a graphic and nuanced depiction of plantation slavery in New Orleans, capturing the multi-ethnic, multilingual, immigrant-saturated city and its environs.

Published in France in 1856, “Bras-Coupé” retells a popular local legend based on actual events of the 1830s: Then, a slave named Squire escaped from a plantation and lost an arm in the process. He continued to evade the police in a standoff that lasted years. Quickly dubbed “le Bras-Coupé” or “The Severed Arm,” Squire and his supposed “encampment of outlaw negroes near the city” resisted capture for enough time to reanimate intense local fears of slave revolt. Additionally—and importantly for this literary history—the continuous newspaper reporting of the prolonged stalemate built up a legend that would go on to be retold by late-nineteenth century authors George Washington Cable and Lafcadio Hearn. The former would feature Bras-Coupé’s story in two chapters of his magnum opus The Grandissimes: A Tale of Creole Life (1880), while the latter would respond to Cable in his newspaper column with a report meant to set the historical record straight, titled “The Original Bras Coupe” (1880).

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Medium 9781574416367

Chasing Bayla: Boston Globe / By Sarah Schweitzer

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press PDF

Chasing Bayla

Boston Globe

Oct. 25, 2014

By Sarah Schweitzer

“Thirty meters,” Dr. Michael Moore called out.

Moore braced himself against the steel of the Zodiac’s platform tower as the boat closed in on the whale in the heaving Florida waters. Through the rangefinder, he could see the tangled mass of ropes cinched tightly around her. It was impossible to tell where the ropes began and where they ended.

This much he knew. The ropes were carving into her. Bayla was in pain.

He was tempted to look away. It was almost too much to see.

Her V-shaped spray erupted then disappeared into a mist as she slipped beneath the surface. A spot-plane circling overhead radioed. They could still see her silhouette. She hadn’t gone deep.

“Get in close if you can,” Moore said to the boat’s driver.

Bayla would come up again soon.

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Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 3

Then he would have his chance.

For nearly three decades Moore had dedicated himself to North Atlantic right whales like Bayla. He knew every inch of their anatomy, every detail of the strange and glorious physiology that made them so astoundingly powerful and so utterly defenseless against the ropes.

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Medium 9781743603604

Innocence Abroad

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

For many people of my generation it was one army or another that first sent us more or less innocently abroad. In my case it was the British Army which, at the end of the Second World War, deposited me for a couple of months in the very first city I had ever inhabited. I was twenty years old, not all that innocent but decidedly provincial. The city on the other hand was not only ultra-urban but also almost inconceivably abroad.

I was 2nd Lieutenant Morris of the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers. The city was Venice.

Can you imagine the culture shock when at our camp on the River Po I was detached from our kindly old regiment, a substitute home and family, and told to help organize the requisitioned motor-boats of that legendary foreign city? It would not be for long, I was assured by my colonel, a gentle fighting Welshman from a home near my own home; actually, he said, he was not quite sure what I would be doing in the place, but you never knew, I might find it an enjoyable experience.

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Medium 9781938901249

14. René Magritte’s Brussels

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

14

RENÉ MAGRITTE’S BRUSSELS

The artist René Magritte spent almost all his life in Brussels. While other surrealists dressed bizarrely, swapped lovers, and made flamboyantly deviant art, he remained an inconspicuous fellow, tending toward portliness, who painted flaming tubas and dismembered body parts every morning in his dining room with the regularity of a bank clerk. His great escape was to put on a bowler hat and walk his dog—a Pomeranian named Loulou—in buttoned-up, bourgeois Brussels.

A story is told about the artist stopping at the corner store to buy some cheese. The grocer started to cut a slice, but Magritte insisted on a piece from another round. When she protested that both were the same, he said, “No, Madame, the one in the window has been looked at all day long by people passing by.”

Knowing Belgians, I imagine that madame simply nodded her grizzled head and complied. But visitors to the sane, grey Belgian capital are bound to feel perplexed about how Magritte fit in so comfortably there, indeed, chose it over Paris, where he spent three years from 1927 to 1930 hobnobbing with the wilder French surrealists.

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Medium 9781743603604

Coming Home

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

It was supposed to be a family summer holiday to Italy in 2008, a treat for my wife and our daughter and son, aged fifteen and twelve respectively. We were leasing a villa in Tuscany with two other couples, one of whom had two children the same ages as ours. Months before we flew out, I received an email from the mayor of Barga, a medieval city in the Lucca province in Tuscany. He wrote that he had read I would be coming to Italy to vacation (where he read this I don’t know) and he very much wanted me to visit Barga and be his guest for lunch.

Well, I had intended to bring my family to Barga for a very special reason: It was the birthplace of my grandfather Amedeo Giovanni Vittorio Baldacci back in the late 1800s. I had never met him, as he died tragically of pneumonia during a terrible winter storm in Virginia in 1940, a full two decades before I was born. But I’d heard a great deal about the six-foot-four-inch Italian immigrant, who had come through Ellis Island and then headed straight south, getting off the train in Richmond, Virginia (my hometown), where he met my grandmother, a full eighteen inches shorter than he, at the boarding house run by her mother. He owned several successful businesses in Richmond, including a confectionery, a restaurant, a sightseeing business that would take you on a plane over the area, and a coal mine that produced far more water than coal.

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Medium 9781552452585

Wanted Children

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub

Wanted Children

DID YOU SEE THIS? Paul cocked his head to the side then skewed it aggressively towards his laptop, which he had perched on a pile of old newspapers on the kitchen table.

See what? Beth refused to turn from her careful work at the counter. The naturopath had said six drops of the kava-kava root tincture and three of the impatiens, star of Bethlehem, cherry plum, rock rose and clematis. In spring water. She squeezed the top of the dropper delicately. Two drops, followed by a narrow quicksilver dribble. Could the dribble be considered a drip? How many drips in a drop? How many snowflakes in a snowbank? There was a joke in there somewhere. The precision of it all, the crucial measurements and ratios, the equilibrium and relative concentration and dilution – it was doing her in. But the naturopath had said it would help her regain a sense of her place in the world, settle her nervous system, her overactive mind and frequently, inappropriately aroused nether regions. She would feel better, centred, the healer had promised.

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Medium 9781771870849

Making Peace

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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ONE WEEK IN EARLY DECEMBER, the lone Native student in Adolescent Psychology came privately before our night class to say that she was unhappy with her small group. She and four other women had been working on a project, and as far as she was concerned, it was not going well. Although this was her last term before graduating with a teaching degree, she was considering dropping out of the course altogether.

I asked her to consider staying, and promised to help if I possibly could. But she doubted that anything could be done. The problem was partly her own shyness, she said, and partly it was the white women’s awkwardness toward her. She thought she’d be better off with her own people in ITEP, the Indian Teacher Education Program down the hall, even if it meant missing the next convocation. When our talk ended, I was quite sure I’d never see her again.

Some time later when the projects were complete, the four other women from that group came one night in a testy frame of mind at the low mark they’d received on their work. They hovered at the front while other students packed their bags, and I noticed from the corner of my eye that the Cree woman — who had stayed with us after all — was about to slip through the door. I called her back and asked the five of them to wait, and encouraged the stragglers in the room to vamoose.

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Medium 9781771870849

Queen of Clubs

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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MAYDAY! Our mother’s neighbour calls to say that Mom looks bad, very bad; she’s been out making a garden, but something has gone awry and an ambulance is coming to take her to the Rosthern Hospital. By the time we drive out from the city, she’s strapped in an emergency room wheelchair, moaning Ohh, ohh, lifting hands alternately to her forehead, or gripping the chair’s edge and straining to get out. Her eyes seem to see, but she doesn’t respond to us, and we can only repeat the things we most want her to know: We love you; please try to rest; everyone is helping; things will be all right — and try to believe this last ourselves.

The doctor on duty arranges a transfer to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital. I ride back with Mom in the ambulance, and she calms somewhat; but at the new emergency ward she rears and thrashes again, jabs her feet through the bedrails as if determined to get up and leave. Eventually a CT scan shows bacteria from an ear infection eating through the mastoid into the meningi between her skull and brain, and already spreading into the right temporal lobe. Air pockets generate internal pressure and make her head ache ferociously. No one will estimate the brain damage without neurological tests, and she’s not conscious enough to respond.

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Medium 9781938901249

15. Julia’s Paris

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

15

JULIA’S PARIS

Julia Child wrote bestselling cookbooks, won accolades and awards for her public television cooking shows, made the cover of Time magazine, and received the American Medal of Freedom. When she retired, her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen was installed as an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

It isn’t going too far to say that Child introduced the bland palate of Betty Crocker’s America to the transcendent pleasures of French cuisine, thereby broadening the lives and aspirations of many baby boomers, like me, who fricasséed along with her on TV.

That a television cooking teacher could have had such an impact not just on popular culture but on individual Americans was proven by Julie Powell’s stupendously successful blog about trying to find herself by making all 524 recipes in Child’s 1961 classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, co-authored with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The blog became a bestselling book that, together with Child’s own 2006 memoir My Life in France, inspired the film Julie and Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron.

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Medium 9780253356864

27. Proving

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Perhaps because Walden is such an obviously ambitious book with a determinedly elevated tone, Thoreau quickly acquired a reputation as a ponderous, humorless writer. After accusing Thoreau of “gutting” his works of anything that might make his readers laugh, Robert Louis Stevenson remarked that “he was not one of those authors who have learned … ‘to leave out the dullness’.” Writing in 1880, just eighteen years after Thoreau’s death, Stevenson was following the example of James Russell Lowell, who in 1865 had flatly declared that “Thoreau had no humor.” Emerson never mentioned Walden, even in his own journals. Although he accused Thoreau of lacking “a lyric facility and technical skill,” he preferred his friend’s poetry to his prose, which he thought marred by reflexive paradox. In the twentieth century, Leon Edel summarized the case against Thoreau, curtly declaring, “He was not a born writer.”

This last judgment, leveled at the author of at least one classic book and a two-million-word journal, now seems astonishingly off. We should remember, however, that several of Thoreau’s contemporaries demonstrated that prolificness does not inevitably signal talent: Margaret Fuller, William Ellery Channing, and Henry James Sr. all wrote at unembarrassed length without showing any natural affinity for literature. Thoreau, on the other hand, may have been one of those writers like Whitman or Neruda (but unlike T. S. Eliot) who need to write a lot in order to produce a small amount of first-rate work: even Walden’s greatest admirers have never made similar claims for the Week, The Maine Woods, or Cape Cod.

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Medium 9781574416367

The Favor

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253000958

Staying Put

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Two friends arrived at our house for supper one May evening along with the first rumblings of thunder. As my wife, Ruth, and I sat talking with them on our front porch, we had to keep raising our voices a notch to make ourselves heard above the gathering storm. The birds, more discreet, had already hushed. The huge elm beside our door began to sway, limbs creaking, leaves hissing. Black sponges of clouds blotted up the light, fooling the street lamps into coming on early. Above the trees and rooftops, the murky southern sky crackled with lightning. Now and again we heard the pop of a transformer as a bolt struck the power lines in our neighborhood. The pulses of thunder came faster and faster, until they merged into a continuous roar.

We gave up on talking. The four of us, all midwesterners teethed on thunderstorms, sat down there on the porch to our meal of lentil soup, cheddar cheese, bread warm from the oven, sliced apples and strawberries. We were lifting the first spoonfuls to our mouths when a stroke of lightning burst so nearby that it seemed to suck away the air, and the lights flickered out, plunging the whole street into darkness.

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Medium 9780892727605

Autumn

Down East Books ePub

Richard Russo

T hough he never set foot in the state, my grandfather would have been a natural Mainer. When I was a boy, he was already in the autumn of his life, having survived two world wars, the Depression, and a daily existence too full of Duty (both secular and religious). Prematurely bald and rail thin from the malaria he

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Medium 9781574416367

How Detroit Was Reborn: The Inside Story of Detroit’s Historic Bankruptcy Case: Detroit Free Press / By Nathan Bomey, John Gallagher, and Mark Stryker

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press PDF

How Detroit Was Reborn: The Inside Story of Detroit’s Historic Bankruptcy Case

Detroit Free Press

November 9, 2014

By Nathan Bomey, John Gallagher, and Mark Stryker

City rises from horrific debt to incredible hope

U.S. District Chief Judge Gerald Rosen wondered what the hell he’d gotten himself into.

Rosen was in Florida in August 2013 for a quick golf vacation but was rising before dawn each day to read Detroit’s massive plan to restructure its debt. The numbers were horrific: $18 billion in liabilities, 78,000 blighted buildings, four of every 10 dollars already devoted to debt, pensions and retiree health care.

Thousands of elderly retirees were facing deep pension cuts—their livelihoods. Detroit's world-class art museum was at risk of losing its treasured pieces in a fire sale. The city needed hundreds of millions of dollars just to begin to climb out of the hole.

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Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 3

Rosen, the appointed federal mediator in the city’s historic bankruptcy case, picked up his pen and doodled an idea on the cardboard back of a legal pad. He wrote “art” and drew a box around it, representing protection for the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts and its billions of dollars in masterpieces.

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