Friday, July 29, 2011

Fairy Tale Fridays - What's New In Fairy Tales

In my last Fairy Tale Fridays, I focused on Giambattista Basile, one of the first people to commit fairy tales to paper. This week, I wanted to focus on what's happening with fairy tales more recently.

Kate Bernheimer (who I've raved about endlessly when talking about Omaha Lit Fest specifically and fairy tales in general) recently released the third in a trilogy of novels about the Gold sister. In March, The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold was published by FC2 completing the trilogy started in 2001 with The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold and continued in 2006 with The Complete Tales of Merry Gold. HTML Giant has an in-depth (3000 words in-depth!) review of the trilogy.

Previously I mentioned SurLaLune as a great source of annontated fairy tales. There is now a blog associated with the site as well. From there I see that there is not just one but four movies in the works Snow White, three of which are a trilogy starring Kristin Stewart of Twilight fame. The other is a Julia Robert's project. A Beauty & The Beast movie adaptation in the works, starring Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, is being pulled together by Guillermo del Toro among others. All of those, in conjunction with the upcoming ABC t.v. series Once Upon A Time appear to mean that I'll be watching fairy tales almost as often as I'm reading them.

New sites I found while doing research on the internet (okay, playing), are Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine and on fairytale flashcards and a quiz.  Now I'm off to go play (er, research) some more. Can't wait to see what else is out there is discover!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exposure by Therese Fowler

Exposure by Therese Fowler
384 pages
Published May 2011
Source: the publisher

Eighteen-year-old Anthony Winter and seventeen-year-old Amelia Wilkes are in love and looking forward to a future together. The plan for the two high-school seniors, stars of the high school drama department, is to study theater in New York with Broadway as their ultimate goal.  Life should be perfect, shouldn't it?

There's just one problem - Amelia's father. Harlan Wilkes is a self-made man who rose from humble beginnings to own a string of high-end automotive dealerships. He's given Amelia every advantage in life and he's not about to stand by and watch her throw it all away. Up until recently, Amelia has always done everything Harlan expected of her without question. But Amelia knows that Harlan won't approved of her college plans and he certainly won't approve of Anthony (son of the art teacher in the private school the kids attend, Anthony for free because of his mother). So she' s hidden both her plans and her relationship from her father.

Then one day Amelia and Anthony's world comes crashing down on their heads when Harlan finds some naked pictures of Anthony on Amelia's computer. Having no idea that the two are in a relationship, Harlan jumps to the conclusion that Anthony is some kind of pervert and calls the police. Nothing, not even the truth, will prevent Harlan from punishing Anthony and an eager district attorney is more than willing to help even if it means ruining lives.

Over and over again, the characters in Exposure wonder why the law is choosing to make an example of two young people when so many other young people are doing the same thing. And that's just what I was wondering as well; would any local authority so aggressively go after a teenager for naked pictures on his girlfriend's computer? Maybe. In the right small town. If you had the right person, looking to climb the political ladder. Then I began to wonder, would a school full of young people really turn on a young man for sending those pictures as did the young people in this book? Undoubtedly some would. I couldn't help but think, though, that even more wouldn't think of it as any big deal. Even more, I began to wonder if the legal maneuverings in this book would/could really happen. And I began to wonder what I would do if the same thing happened to my son. How would I react? How would I find the wherewithal to pay for all of the legal fees? Clearly, Exposure got me thinking.

In the end, though, it was all just a bit too much for me. Everything that could go wrong, did; every conceivable charge that might be drummed up, was. There was just so much young love angst. And the ending just did not work for me. As the mother of a teenagers, Exposure reinforced my belief that all of these wonderful electronic devices can be dangerous in the hands of young people whose hormones are in overdrive. Even if I didn't necessarily believe that a person would be charged with all of the counts that came up in the book, I have to admit that it made me worry. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go have another talk with my kids.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis

Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis
113 pages
Published October 2010 by Quattro Books
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

In Tobacco Wars, Paul Seesequasis gives the reader a modern retelling of the Native American story of creation  (here a Bear Woman is responsible for all creation) and a work of historical fiction featuring Pocahontas and the British playwright Ben Jonson. Sound like an unusual story? You haven't heard the half of it.

When I say "modern retelling," I'm talking about a retelling that pushes the boundaries so far that Seesequasis feels the need to suggest in his acknowledgments that he may have "gone to places that they [his family elders] would not consider proper." The rivers and oceans are created when Bear Woman urinates; the sun is a ball of her phlegm; islands are mounds of her feces. The creation of the animals? Let's just say that occurs as the result of something your parents didn't tell you about until they thought you were old enough to hear it. And Seesequasis is quite vivid in his descriptions. After the first few pages of the book, I told my husband I felt like I was reading bear porn. Which, perhaps, brings me to the point. Much of this happens in the first few pages. I'm left wondering if Seesequasis' intention was to immediately shock his readers. To appear so avante garde that if, in the end, you feel like you just didn't get his point, he can justify it by suggesting that you had tuned out early.

The Pocohantas parts of the story are, by and large, much less graphic. Seesequasis, as a Native American, gives a unique feel to one of the most famous Native American's journey from "the Americas" to the court of England and back again. I certainly got what felt like a very real impression of what life must have been like on the streets of England at that time, gritty and dirty. My problem with these parts of the book was not so much what Seesequasis included but, rather, what he left out. In the end, I felt like there should have been more to the story; so few pages encompassing so many years and events.

I made the mistake of reading a few reviews of this before I even started the book, something I very rarely do and I will admit to being somewhat prejudiced going into the book. In the end I feel like I did read the book with an open mind (once I got past the bear porn) and believe I understand the point Seesequasis was trying to make. I did appreciate the idea of a "mother" of creation watching as the beautiful world she has created become overgrown with people who have no appreciation for its wonders. By and large, I enjoyed the story of Pocahantas and came away with the impression that Seesequasis certainly has talent. Sadly, I can't say that the book worked for me as a whole. The graphic descriptions did little more than turn me off to the book and I'm not sure that the two stories ever came together enough to feel like anything more than two entirely different stories.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity, once again, to push my own boundaries with this one! For other opinions about this book, check out the full tour.

Paul Seesequasis is a writer and a journalist. He was the founding editor of the award-winning Aboriginal Voices magazine, and the recipient of a MacLean-Hunter journalist award. His short stories and feature writings have been published in Canada and abroad. Tobacco Wars is his first novella.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Salon - July 24

Yet another long and busy week at work. Yet another slow reading week. So many nights when I crawl into bed to read, I'm only a few pages in before it's time for lights out. Fortunately my review commitment for this week, Tobacco Wars, was a quick read.

I spent yesterday moving my oldest son into a new apartment. Too hot, too many steps, and my legs were shot but they have such a nice place now. Their boxes of books were sure heavy but I'm delighted that both of them love to read so much. Last year when they moved into their first apartment, I was mortified and I've spent the entire year worrying about them. Why doesn't anyone tell you before you have children that you will never stop worrying about them?

Am I the last person to hear about the new series ABC has coming this fall called "Once Upon A Time?" Here's the synopsis:
"The series is loosely inspired by the classic fairy tale stories except set in the present day, hence the series name. The stories hold a key to the mystery that will draw a bail bonds collector and the son that she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier to a New England town called Storybrooke, Maine. This town is actually a parallel world in which fairy tale characters look like normal people and don't remember their true identities or anything about their true lives."
I think this fairy tale fan has just discovered a t.v. show that really will be "must-see" t.v. You won't mind if every Fairy Tale Friday is just a recap of this week's episode, will you?

 I'm starting The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb this week by Melanie Benjamin. I've been looking forward to this one since hearing Benjamin talk about it last fall at the Omaha Lit Fest. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz

Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz
304 pages
Published July 2011 by Random House Publishing House
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

First, a confession: I have not finished this book. I completely forgot about my tour date for this one and only just started the book a couple of days ago. That being said, I will, very likely finish it later today because Schwartz has completely sucked me into the story.

A dozen years ago Dwight Arno, killed a young boy in a hit-and-run car accident. After a prison term, his life as a lawyer, husband and father was over and he escaped across the country to California where he became the manager of a sporting goods store, keeping his past hidden from everyone in his new life. As the blurb on the book says he has "started over without exactly moving on." What he has done and the hurt it caused everyone in his life is never far from his mind.

Then one evening Dwight returns home from work to find Sam, his 22-year-old estranged son, sitting in his living room. Sam has fled home after getting in a bar fight in which he hit a guy with a baseball bat. Granted, he was assaulted first. But Sam is horrified to realize just how good it felt to release all of that anger. Wanting to escape, Sam has fled to the last place anyone would think to look for him, the home of the father he hasn't seen in ten years.

As Dwight and Sam come to know each other again and face their own natures, they also impact the women in their lives: ex-wife, lovers, mother.

Told in alternating points of view between many of the characters in the book and in both first- (Dwight) and third-person (all of the other characters), this book moves along rapidly. As it did when I read his The Commoner, Schwartz's beautiful writing is making me want to slow down and savor the book while the story itself is compelling me forward.
"And so it goes; the duffel switching hand to hand, the mind clear but seeing backward, the angled sun anointing him like a troubled pilgrim who's journeyed to the far edge of the continent in search of a blessing that he doesn't believe in but can't stop looking for."

I can't wait to see where Schwartz will ultimately take these characters who have come to life with such great emotional depth.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!  I'm eager now to read Reservation Road, the book that precedes this one in which readers are introduced to Dwight Arno. Learn more about Schwartz on his website or check out his Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Persepolis and the Omaha Bookworms

Persepolis: The Story Of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
160 pages
Published June 2004 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: I bought this to read with the Omaha Bookworms

Satrapi was ten years old when, in 1979, Iran began to experience a period of revolution against the then-Shah. Persepolis chronicles the revolution through the eyes of a young girl in graphic novel form. Satrapi, whose parents initially demonstrated in favor of the overthrow of the Shah, chronicles life as her parents go from hopeful to fearful, as she herself experiences ever changing feelings about her country, and as the country becomes a more and more dangerous place to live.

Linda recommended this one to the Bookworms and I thought it would make a perfect summer read since it would be a quick read being a graphic novel. It was indeed a quick read but only partially because it was a graphic novel. The truth is that I would have read this book in one night even if it had been twice as long. Satrapi does a marvelous job of, literally, illustrating the full range of emotions Satrapi and her family went through from the start of the revolution until the day her parents put her on an airplane bound for Austria. Her family didn't shy away from telling her the truth of what was happening and Satrapi doesn't shy away from showing her readers the full horror of living through that time in Iran. She skillfully balances that with a moving portrait of what it was like to be a citizen of Iran during the revolution and war with Iraq.

All of the Bookworms really liked Persepolis and several of us are planning on reading Satrapi's followup. Well, done, Linda! Not only did you pick a book that I really enjoyed but you found that book that has changed my mind about graphic novels.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Salon - July 17

I can't believe that July is half over already and that there are only three and a half weeks before Miss H heads back to school.

Last night she and I were off shopping. I had to pick up this month's read for the Omaha Bookworms Book Club (we meet Tuesday; nothing like waiting until the last minute!), which is Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. Couldn't remember the author's name when I got to the store but didn't think I would need help finding it because it's a graphic novel and therefore should be in the graphic novel section. But, of course, it wasn't. It's in the Biography section. I suppose that makes sense since it is the story of a part of Satrapi's life. But still...

While I was searching the graphic novel section, a series of books caught my eye, the "Fables" series. Have any of you graphic novel readers heard of them? I picked up a couple because of the names (Arabian Nights and Rose Red) thinking they were graphic interpretations of classic fairy tales but discovered them to be modern. Not all of the title had to do with fairy tales so I wasn't quite sure what the story was with this series. I was intrigued enough to look it up when I got home, though. Here's the summary of the first book from the Barnes & Noble website:
"When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber."
Now that idea piques my interest. I still don't know if I'm a fan of graphic novels but I just might have to pick up the first book in the series and give it a try. It would definitely be a change up to whatever else I've been reading and I do like to change things up now and again.

I'll, obviously, be reading Persepolis this week. What are you reading?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Man In The Rockefeller Suit: The Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal

The Man In The Rockefeller Suit: The Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal
336 pages
Published June 2011 by Penguin Group
Source: the publisher

In 1978 a seventeen-year-old young man arrived in the United States from Germany, imposing on the kindness of a family he only just barely met. Though Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter arrived in Connecticut under his real name, already very little else about his life was real.
"Christian was too big for Bergen, all of the men seemed to be saying, and creating another persona was the only way he would ever leave the little town that nobody ever leaves."
Over the next several decades, Gerhartsreiter refined his act and charmed his way into society circles even as his arrogance grew.  While in Connecticut, he was such a rude house guest that he was kicked out of three homes. By the time he arrived in California (yet again imposing on people he had only briefly met in Germany), "he had clearly learned how to flatter and acquiesce, when to speak and when to remain silent, and how to work the American system." By then Gerhartsreiter had become Christopher Chichester, relative to Lord Mountbatten.

Leaving California, Chichester headed back to the East Coast, emerging on Wall Street as Christopher Crowe, executive while continuing to maintain that he has aristocratic ties. After repeatedly being exposed as a fraud in his jobs, and when law enforcement began asking questions about California, Crowe disappeared. Years passed before he again reemerged, this time as Clark Rockefeller, his greatest character yet.
"To his friends and acquaintances, Clark Rockefeller was a prince. He was so friendly, so attentive, so eager to please. He cared about people and seemed genuinely interested in them"
In the summer of 2008, Clark's perfect world came to an abrupt end. After a divorce, and the loss of his gravy train, Clark determined to get his revenge by kidnapping the couple's daughter bringing the FBI down on him. Gradually the world began to learn the truth about Clark Rockefeller. All of this is public records.

By the time Rockefeller was brought to trial, Mark Sea had been investigating him for almost a year but as the trial progressed, Seal discovered that he, too had been conned by Rockefeller. Wanting to finally learn the full story, Seal traveled to Germany then back and forth across the U.S. talking to everyone he could find who might be able to offer a glimpse into the man who would become Clark Rockefeller. The result was first an article in Vanity Fair magazine and then this book.

Seal may not have offered any new glimpses in the mind of a con artist (he doesn't cover the psychological aspect at all) and after nearly 400 pages there is no reason "why." I didn't need one; I've long ago learned that there is not always an easy answer.

What I did learn is that rich people are amazingly gullible and that if you act like you're better than some people, it will make them all the more anxious to be in your circle. Almost all of the people that Seal interviewed recounted some type of unusual behavior on Rockefeller's part. Apparently, if you're rich enough (or people think you are), people will write off these kinds of things as eccentricities.

Just for you, Mari, I took off my rose-colored glasses while I read this one; I'm perfectly willing to accept that there are people like Rockefeller out there in the world. It turns out that reading about one of them makes for highly entertaining reading. One reviewer called the book "cinematic;" NPR recently suggested that readers pick up this book before it's made into a movie. Sam Rockwell, I think this one has your name on it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Violets of March by Sarah Jio

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
304 pages
Published April 2011 by Penguin Group
Source: the publisher

When Emily Wilson's husband left her for another woman, her friend, Annabelle, convinces the best-selling author that she needs to get away from New York. Just as Emily is contemplating where to go, she receives an invitation from her great-aunt Bee to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island, just off the coast from Seattle.

Nearly as soon as she arrives, Emily discovers three things: Greg, an old boyfriend from the days when Emily used to visit the island every summer; Jack, a neighbor who it's clear that Bee doesn't want Emily to have anything to do with; and a red velvet book tucked away in the bedside table of the room Emily is staying in, a room she has never been in before.

The book, dated 1943, is the story of ill-fated love between Elliot and Esther. The more Emily reads, the more involved in the book she becomes and the more convinced she becomes that the story might not be a work of fiction. Between trying to solve the mystery of the book, the mystery of her own family that Bee seems to be keeping from her, and her developing relationship with Jack, March turns out to be much more complicated that Emily could have imagined.

The beautiful cover of this book convinced me to give it a try and the rave reviews its been getting had me looking forward to The Violets of March. Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs) called this one "captivating" and Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt) called it "enchanting." When I finished the book, I found myself wondering "What did I miss?"

I liked a lot about the book: the premise of returning to a place you loved when you were younger to heal, uncovering family mysteries and learning more about yourself in doing so. I quite liked some of the characters: Bee and her live-long friend, Evelyn. But I also had a hard time with the idea that someone who is just getting over the breakup of her marriage would be instantly willing to date not one, but two men. And why in the world would Evelyn insist that Emily needed to read the book instead of telling her what she knew about Emily's family. It almost seemed cruel. The book within the book also didn't have enough of a different voice for me to believe it was written by a different person.

All of this makes it sound as if I really didn't care for the book which isn't the case. It was an enjoyable summer read. Just not the beautiful story I was hoping for. Sometimes I think it might to read books that you've never heard a thing about before!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Salon - July 10

NPR this week posted a their list of the "summer's biggest, juiciest nonfiction adventures." I never quite think of nonfiction as "juicy" (Henry Kissinger's On China being an example of why I don't). It turns out, though, that just as this list comes out, I'm actually reading one of the books on the list.

Having just finished Mark Seal's The Man In The Rockefeller Suit, I still don't know that I would call it "juicy" but I would definitely call it an adventure. If it's any indication of the kind of fun a nonfiction read can be, then I'm going to have to pick up more of NPR's picks.

I've been doing a terrible job of getting books read this summer, and an even worse one of blogging, which has been a disappointment. I do always think that I'll get more reading done in the summer than I ever do. Every June arrives with me envisioning myself doing a lot of sitting on the patio with a good book. Somehow I never also envision that my chatty husband might also be sitting out there or that my daughter will want to hang out just as I sit down to read (and when you have a 16-year-old who wants to spend time with you, you take it!). Somewhere about this time of year, I begin to think that at least when winter arrives, and I'm more housebound, then I'll get more reading time. Are you starting to see where this cycle is going?!

I'm going to have to pick it up a bit in the coming weeks. I've got reviews of John Burnham's Northwest Corners and Paul Seesequasis' Tobacco Wars coming up this month as well as my book club selection for July which is Persepolis. Also hoping to find time for Theresa Fowler's Exposure and The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky. So I'm off to read now; what are your reading plans for July?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
576 pages
Published September 2007 by Random House Children's Books
Source: Bought this one

Young Liesel Meminger is on her way to live with a foster family, her communist mother no longer able to care for her in Adolph Hitler's Germany, when her brother dies. When he is buried, one of the gravediggers drops his handbook in the snow. It will be the first book that Liesel steals, even though she is unable to read. It will also be Death's first encounter with Liesel.

Arriving at Hans and Rosa Huberman's small home, Liesel is at first terrified by Rosa (who has a "face decorated with constant fury"), but is soon won over by kind-hearted, accordion-playing Hans. Every night Liesel is awakened by nightmares of her brother's death and every night Hans sits up with her until she falls back to sleep, first reading to Liesel and then teaching her to read.

Life settles into a routine on the street, despite the war and the constant tension caused by the Nazi party. Liesel and her best friend, Rudy, struggle to make their way as they grow into their teens, joining a group of food thieves, dealing with the Hitler youth, and stealing books for Liesel.

Then one night a young Jewish man arrives at the house seeking safe shelter. Max is the son of a man Hans credits with saving his life in World War I; Hans has long ago told the boy's mother that if there is ever anything he can do, he will. And now it's time to pay back his debt and despite the great risk, the Huberman's make good, although it means that Max will spend most of the next few months in the basement. As much as Max benefits from the shelter the family offers, the family benefits from their time with the young man. But as the war progresses, life on the street becomes much more dangerous. And Death makes his appearance again.
"First the colors.
        Then the humans.
        That's usually how I see things.
        Or at least how I try.

            You are going to die."            
Death is the narrator of The Book Thief. This could have come off as nothing more than a gimmick. It could have made the book entirely too maudlin for the young adult audience it is intended for. In Zusak's hands, it did neither. In the time and place in which The Book Thief is set, Zusak's Death is more humane than most of the humans surrounding young Liesel. Death, as it turns out, also has something of a sense of humor.
"Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and free them from their fear."

Zusak gives his readers marvelously complex characters, characters that develop and unfold as the book progresses. As the book began I would not have imagined that I would come to the end feeling affection for Rosa, yet I did. Using ordinary German citizens gives this story a unique take on Hitler's Germany, making it accessible to younger readers but also forcing older readers to consider the people of German in a new light and understand the guilt of the survivors.

"To live.
  Living was living.
  The price was guilt and shame."
What most astounded me about this book, what grabbed me immediately, was the poetry of Zusak's writing. You may have noticed in other reviews, that I am drawn to poetic writing but Zusak has pushed "poetic" further than any author I recall, blending prose and pure poetry into one novel. The writing in The Book Thief is compelling and beautiful, even when the images Zusak is painting are not so beautiful.

       A pair of train guards.
       A pair of grave diggers.
    When it came down to it, one of them called the shots,
The other did what he was told.
The question is, what if the other is a lot more than one?"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July To My Fellow Countrymen...And Women!

Today, as we in the United States of America celebrate our independence, I thought I would share with you the speech my father will be giving this morning. Two years ago, I told you about the Fourth of July breakfast that my parents started n their neighborhood in 1976. That breakfast continues to this day, and to this day my American History teacher dad teaches the attendees something new about the reason we celebrate this day.

Robert Shurtliffe fought on the side of the Rebels in the American Revolution. This was after having walked 30 miles to sign up in the 4th Massachusetts, a light infantry unit of the Massachusetts Line. Taller, at 5' 8”, than the average man of that time, Robert had developed broad shoulders and a muscular body through years of laborious farm work.

In 1782, the 4th Massachusetts was stationed at West Point in New York. It was guarding the Hudson River Valley against units of Loyalist Americans who still hoped to achieve the British goal of detaching New England from the rest of the colonies.
In one battle, Shurtliffe took a saber cut across the left side of the head and tended it without medical assistance. A few weeks later Robert was hit in the thigh by a musket ball. Once again, self-treatment was used, trying --- unsuccessfully--- to dig the ball out with a pocket knife.
More medical trouble followed. Shurtliffe suffered a severe brain fever, which was not uncommon among rebel soldiers, given the dreadful conditions in which they lived and fought.
The result was that, after a year and a half of service, Robert Shurtliffe was honorably discharged and sent home with letter of testimony to gallantry in combat.
Massachusetts awarded the veteran a pension which eventually rose to $8 a month. A few years later, then-President George Washington invited the gallant ex-soldier to visit the capital. A highlight of the visit was that Congress passed a bill granting veterans such as Shurtliffe a national pension and grants of land.
At the urging of Paul Revere, Shurtliffe went on tour in 1802, appearing on stage to give first-hand accounts of wartime experiences.
Robert Shurtliffe died at age 68 in 1827. It should be noted however, that the veteran was not buried under that wartime name. That was because, while the unconscious soldier was being treated for that brain fever back in 1783, the attending doctors had discovered that Robert Shurtliffe was really a 23-year-old woman named Deborah Samson.
After the war, Deborah married a farmer named Benjamin Gannett and bore him three children. But she could not have imagined, I think, that it would be nearly a century after her death before her great great granddaughter would be the first female in her line to be allowed to vote.
How did the U.S. go from a land in which a female had to masquerade as a man in order to do what a man could do to one in which a person of the same gender could exercise such an important aspect of the freedom for which Deborah Samson had exposed herself to danger, pain, and privation?
That's in no small part because in the intervening decades Americans had always had before them the ideals which Thomas Jefferson had written into that Declaration of Independence which we honor today:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government....”
Enjoy your holiday today by keeping in mind the reason for which we celebrate.

Thanks, Dad, for once again reminding us of all that is good about this country!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Salon - July 3

Just a quick link for you today then I'm off to read and relax - this three day weekend is as close to a vacation as I may get for several months!

With all of the celebrating some of you will be doing this weekend, I thought you might want to choose a drink with a literary tie-in. Check out Flavorwire's article "How To Drink Like Your Favorite Author." Perhaps it's a little too hot this weekend for Carson McCuller's hot tea and sherry but maybe some of Ernest Hemingway's beloved Mojito's?