Hard Times

...Ike Osteen grew up in a dugout. A dugout is just that - a home dug into the hide of the prairie. The floor was dirt. Above ground, the walls were plank boards, with no insulation on the inside and black tarpaper on the outside. Every spring, Ike's mother poured boiling water over the walls to kill fresh-hatched bugs. The family heated the dugout with cow chips, which burned in an old stove and left a turd smell slow to dissipate. The toilet was outside, a hole in the ground. Water was hauled in from a deeper hole in the ground.

Read more about Hard Times

First They Came For the Trees

There's a row of books stashed on a bottom shelf of one of my bookcases where I keep books I intend to read but haven't as yet. I don't even remember where I got some of them, only that when I see them I think, oh, yeah. Wanna read that one some day.

One such is Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors , by Stephen Ambrose, originally published in 1975. Finished it last week. In his introduction, Ambrose wrote, Read more about First They Came For the Trees


River of Stars

Late autumn, early morning. It is cold, mist rising from the forest floor, sheathing the green bamboo trees in the grove, muffling sounds, hiding the Twelve Peaks to the east. The maple leaves on the way here are red and yellow on the ground, and falling. The temple bells from the edge of town seem distant when they ring, as if from another world.

Read more about River of Stars

Wolf Hall

It is as if they can smell the devil's spit; they are almost jostling each other to get into the air, which is mild, damp: a faint scent of leaves, a green-gold, rustling light. He can see that, in the years ahead, treason will take new and various forms. When the last treason act was made, no one could circulate their words in a printed book or bill, because printed books were not thought of.

Read more about Wolf Hall>