216 Chapters
Medium 9781574416367

Fred Nelligan

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253000958

House and Home

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When our first child was born, a rosy wriggle of a girl we named Eva, my wife and I were living in a second-floor apartment on the noisiest avenue leading east and west through Bloomington, Indiana. Trucks grinding their gears, belching buses, howling ambulances and squad cars, unmufflered pickups and juiced-up jalopies roared past our windows, morning, noon, and night. What little dirt we could find between pavement and weeds in our tiny yard was slimed with engine oil.

To begin with, Eva weighed only six and a half pounds, all of them fidgety. Like any newborn she was pure appetite. With a stomach so small, she hardly seemed to close her eyes between feedings. Even when those brown eyes did fitfully close, they would snap open again at the least sound. Ruth nursed her to sleep, or I rocked her to sleep, and we’d lay her in the crib as gingerly as a bomb. Then some loud machine would come blaring down the street and Eva would twitch and wail.

Once an engine had frightened her, mere milk would not soothe this child, nor would a cradle endlessly rocking. Only songs would do, a rivery murmur while she snuggled against a warm chest, and the chest had to be swaying in rhythm to a steady walk. Fall silent or stop moving and you had a ruckus on your hands. Night after night, I worked my way through The Folk Songs of North America, cover to cover and back again, while carrying Eva in circles over the crickety floorboards. It took hours of singing and miles of walking to lull her to stillness in my arms, and then a siren or diesel could undo the spell in seconds.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253019059

Brown County

Edited and with an Introduction by Owen Indiana University Press ePub

Artists and hill people in Brown County, Indiana

BROWN COUNTY, Ind.—Brown County is to Indiana what Santa Fe is to the Southwest, or Carmel to California, or Provincetown to New England.

In other words, it is an art colony. But that is only a part of the picture.

It became an art colony in the first place, like the others, because the scenery is majestic and the native people are picturesque.

And, having become an art colony, it attracted non-artists and ordinary people, to its loveliness, and eventually it became a haven, and people came and fell in love with its placid ways, and built beautiful homes and stayed to become part of the spirit of the place. That is the way it has been with Brown County.

On the whole, I am ill at ease in the company of artists, for so much of the time I don’t know what they are talking about. And yet, invariably, I like the places that they have built into their “colonies.”

And so it is with Brown County, Indiana. I have fallen head over heels for the place, and the people, and the hills, and the whole general air of peacefulness. Good Lord, I even like the artists here!

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253018595

We Eat Cold Eels and Think Distant Thoughts · Poetry

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Said American boxer Jack Johnson, glistening like a fish,

To the newsman who asked him why white

Women were drawn to black men, like him.

What is it like to eat cold eels and think distant thoughts?

What is it like to be a black man who eats cold eels

And thinks distant thoughts? What is it like to be

A black man who thinks to say we eat cold eels and think

Distant thoughts to a white reporter, in early-1900s America,

Who wishes to reduce him to meat, to red, to sexual.

Once in the Chicago Aquarium, a long time ago,

I met an eel I was told by the label on his large

Tank weighed 53 pounds, and was 100 years old.

It looked at me with such a fierce intelligence through the glass

And silty water of its address—its grey bald head almost human,

Its two lidless eyes, its small nose holes; and instead of a body

Below its head, no body but a tail of fluid form, one great muscle

Behind ears that were not ears, but also holes. Its whole body

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253356864

5. Books

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

There are probably words addressed to our condition exactly, which, if we could really hear and understand, would be more salutary than the morning or spring to our lives, and possibly put a new aspect on the face of things for us. How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. (76)

For Thoreau, the book that marked “a new era in his life” was Emerson’s Nature, published in the fall of 1836 and checked out of the Harvard library by Thoreau the following spring. He was ready for it: having been examined by Emerson on rhetoric in 1835, he had by 1837 won the older man’s support for some of Harvard’s prize money. More importantly, Emerson’s “manifesto of transcendentalism” suited Thoreau’s interest in reconciling his own avidity for nature with an emerging intellectual ambition. In Walden’s terms, Thoreau was “a prepared field.”

Although he writes dismissively of his own college education, Walden’s enormous number of allusions suggests just how bookish Thoreau was. In fact, as Richardson details, he read omnivorously, working fluently in the major European languages, as well as Latin and Greek. But his choice of reading seems strange, perhaps offering a clue to this mysterious man and his mysterious book. Thoreau, of course, was steeped in the classics, having a special fondness for Homer, but as he grew older, his taste became less and less literary: Goethe and Carlyle, yes, but mostly things like books on Eastern religions, tracts on Canadian history and Indian life, Cato’s treatise on farming, natural history (especially botany), travel books (a guilty pleasure), William Gilpin on landscape painting, the Jesuit Relations (forty-one accounts of the Jesuit missions to Canada’s Indians), Darwin. Thoreau showed no interest in fiction: although he knew Robinson Crusoe, he apparently never read any of his friend Hawthorne’s novels. When we remember that Thoreau was born in 1817, four years after Pride and Prejudice, the following list of books he appears never to have looked at seems suggestive:

See All Chapters

See All Chapters