How To Read History

When you get right down to it, all history, whether written by the winners or the losers, is fiction. Aside from pinning a date to an event or producing written documentation, there is little else that anyone can say, unless in autobiography, about anyone's motivations, and even there we have to consider the source. So, unless you're planning a career as an historian, you might as well stick to actual fiction.

Once upon a time I thought that perhaps I might have a career as an historian, so I've read lots and lots of actual histories. But you know what I remember? These: Read more about How To Read History


Thank the Bookstores

Here's an idea for Black Friday. Buy books. At a bookstore. A real live brick and mortar bookstore. Call your friends and go on a bookstore shopping spree. See how many independent bookstores - new and used - you can find in a 25-mile radius. Buy at least one book in each one. And when the clerk - and in these bookstores, that's probably the proprietor - rings you up, smiles, and says thank you, you smile right back and say no. Thank you. Read more about Thank the Bookstores


Writing Lessons

She is wearing pearls, and white brocade embroidered with stiff little sprigs of carnations. He recognises considerable expenditure; leave the pearls aside, you couldn't turn her out like that for much under thirty pounds. No wonder she moves with gingerly concern, like a child who's been told not to spill something on herself.

This is Hilary Mantel describing Jane Seymour through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell in . Page 11 in my paperback copy. Read more about Writing Lessons


Seminal Works

"We were the radical women of Door County," I said, explaining the origin of the four poems I had just read at the monthly meeting of R.A.S.P., in conversation with a couple of women afterwards. "They were seminal figures in my life at that time."

I realized, as I said it, that seminal was the wrong word. "There must be a better word, " I added, but my companions seemed willing to go along with it. It was time to go anyway, but that word has stayed on my mind. Read more about Seminal Works


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.

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War Weary

I spent last Sunday afternoon cringing on the couch, in an orgy of Netflix warflix.

paired an imaginary war of the future with a real war of the past, both of them to horrific effect. Read more about War Weary