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"During this long travail our ancestors spoke to us, and we listened, and tried to make you life in our song but now it matters not at all to me whether you know what I am talking about -- or not; I know why we are not blinded by your brightness, are able to see you who cannot see us.
Here are three non-fiction works by three accomplished fiction writers. "A true novelist can no more cease to receive impressions than a fish in mid-ocean can cease to let the water rush through its gills." That's what the great British author Virginia Woolf said, among many other things. In "The Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop" (Bantam, $24) Danell Jones has sifted through Woolf's journals, letters, to come up with a short course in writing.
My friend Owen Oxley is a stubborn cuss. The Minneapolis advertising executive has had his ups and downs. When young British kids were being sent to the U.S. in 1940 to avoid the blitz, little Owen Oxley's parents sent him to live with his English grandparents on the Dover coast! Years later, he founded a glossy magazine, "Edina," but when the economy went south, so did "Edina." Later, he wrote a wonderful book based on the experience of living with his mortician English grandfather on the Dover coast.
On the regional front this week we have a lovely book, "Little Heathens," by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (Bantam, $22). The little heathens are what the author's grandparents call her and her brothers and sisters when they come to live with the old folks in Garrison, Iowa, just as the Great Depression begins. It's a heartwarming story about the extended family, their mores and folkways, even their recipes, their surviving the dreadful economic situation and even the weather that brought famine and pestilence to the once rich countryside. The little heathens arrive in Iowa in 1930 with their mo
In June, New York Magazine devoted an entire issue to the economics of running a business in the Big Apple. One business caught my eye. Years back I was hip to what went on in the publishing world, but have fallen behind in my retirement. The magazine's profile of Random House, the nation's largest publisher was an eye opener. First of all, it's no longer owned by its New York founders. Nope. It's now owned as a unit of German media giant Bertelsmann.
"Presidential Courage," by Michael Beschloss (Simon & Schuster, $28) is subtitled "Brave Leaders and How They Changed America: 1789-1989." Beschloss is NBC's presidential correspondent and author of eight books about the American presidency. In his new book he plays no favorites, mentioning Republicans and Democrats alike who risked their own careers to do what they thought was right. Beschloss shows us Teddy Roosevelt taunting J.P.
Back in the 1970s, I received a phone call from the Style Section of the Washington Post. At the time I was teaching and doing a bit of freelance writing. The Style Section was a Big Deal, one of the leaders in the movement called "The New Journalism," of which I was trying to be a practitioner. Since then this movement has fallen into disfavor. In the story I'm about to tell, you'll discover why. What ensued was hilarious. The Style editor told me that he had read some of my work about upper Midwestern Scandinavians.