Having had a lifetime interest in Native Americans, and having just read The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, I learned many things about the Apache Indians that I wanted to share in this post. The little details are indications of Leonard’s research and knowledge. Here are some things about the Apache Indians of the Southwest that I learned:
Unlike other warrior tribes,, Apaches didn’t practice scalping.
Apaches were fond of a corn beer called tizwin.
“An Apache will squat behind a bush all day to take just one shot at an enemy” (31)
When an Apache was seen by an enemy, it’s because he wants you to see him.
Apache wore headbands, not war bonnets.
They would wet and over their body with sand as. camouflage.
To be killed at night was to wander in eternal darkness.
Mangas Coloradas was shot in the back as he lay on the ground tied hand and foot after he had accepted a white flag.
A nagual is a man with the power to change into animal.
There are several other insights into the Apache, so if you’re interested, I suggest you find the writings of Leonard!
In years past, in addition to reading all the books and novels of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, I’ve read the wonderful novel by Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago and have viewed the movie with the same title several times. I’ve also read Pasternak’s book of poetry, Poems of Dr. Zhivago. I also have performed in my music show “Lara’s Theme,” which became the song “Somewhere My Love.” This writer made an unforgettable impression on me and made me realize how horrible life was during the days of the Communist Revolution and the Communist government in Russia. Have you seen the movie or read the novel? Here’s a quote that I think relates to our topic of moral relativism. Let me know what you think. In context, Yuri returns from his work early and finds his house with his wife and child freezing. He marches out and starts tearing down a fence for fuel, but is discovered by his half-brother who is a communist official/commissioner. Here are the commissioner’s thoughts:
“I told myself it was beneath my dignity to arrest a man for pilfering firewood. But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man. And the Party was right: one man desperate for a bit of fuel is pathetic; five million people desperate for fuel will destroy a city.”
I like there above quote because of the growing interest and commitment to socialism and communism. This is a frightening and disturbing trend. It is also an indication of how illiterate the general public is about history, the fate and condition of socialist and communistic countries, the great books written by those who suffered under communism. A move to socialism and communism would spell certain destruction of our nation.
Many seem to determine America as we know it. It brings to mind another quote from Dr. Zhivago: “My task—the Party’s task—was to organize defeat. From defeat would spring the Revolution…and the Revolution would be victory for us.” The sad fact is that many of our own liberal-leaning leaders and their insane base think like this and do not care about the damage they could cause to our citizens and our nation. They want a revolution and destruction of America, so they can rebuild their imagined utopia.
Perhaps colleges should require literature and history courses on the writings of Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, and other samizdat authors. An honest student who reads these troubling works will be permanently affected and will see through the tactics and propoganda of our media and politicians.
We live in an age when the importance of American History is not emphasized and is undervalued and even rewritten to accommodate political or social agendas. We who are part of Living History want to retain the true history and instruct the public and help future generations avoid the pursuit of ignorance.
There are more resources available through vendors and craftsmen than ever before to ensure the accuracy of presentation and the retention of skills and crafts that will likely be lost forever unless learned and passed on.
Reenacting is a healthy, sensory experience! One is outside, away from the technology that dominates the minds and time of our present generation. Marching, participating in battles, camp construction, and cooking provide excellent opportunities for the exercise of mind and body.
One could travel across the nation every week for Living History events such as the Civil War, Revolutionary War, WWII, Indian Wars, Mountain Man Rendezvous, Cowboy and Pioneer events. Whatever one’s historical interest may be, you can find what you’re looking for at festivals and museums. I myself do Living History for Texas History, selected Civil War events, and the Seminole wars.
Living History events are family friendly and all in the family can participate. There is a chance for your children to learn survival, cooking, hunting, and firearm skills, and a chance for young girls to learn those same skills but also vanishing crafts of quilting, weaving, knitting, etc.
Begin by visiting museums, battlefields, doing online searches (keywords: Civil War events, historical sutlers, relic shows, etc.) and talking with reenactors. So many of them are walking encyclopedias of historical facts and insights and they love to explain their costumes and items.
Here is an event I’ll be attending in June. If you are in driving distance, I’d love to meet you and talk with you. This will be a great show!
I’ve just finished a reading of this fine novel. I view it as one of the most intriguing novels I’ve read, and one that easily can be classified as Southern Gothic. If the reader is unfamiliar with that genre, here are the characteristics I’ve found in my reading, research, and study:
1. Though in some ways it may be built upon the Gothic tradition, Southern Gothic is a distinctly American genre.
2. Characters often are deeply flawed, damaged, disturbing, disturbed, deranged, delusional or diseased mentally, dangerous; and/or deformed in some way. A deep, inner life is usually lacking, and they may be broken in body or soul.
3. Plots are built around or at least using the macabre, bizarre, the unusual, the grotesque–things that make us cringe.
4. The humor is a dark humor. Sometimes a mocking humor that attacks our clichés and habits of life.
5. Southern Gothic explores social issues and reveals aspects of Southern culture.
The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature says this about Southern Gothic: Southern Gothic is a mode or genre prevalent in literature from the early 19th century to this day. Characteristics of Southern Gothic include the presence of irrational, horrific, and transgressive thoughts, desires, and impulses; grotesque characters; dark humor, and an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation.
Only Charlottehas these characteristics. Here are my observations generally about this novel:
1. This novel, like the author’s other novels, are all set in the post-Civil War South. She writes with honesty, avoiding the stereotypes commonly used to portray the South. There’s no effort in her writing to please the politically correct police. She captures a very real historical world and leads the reader into it, where we discover the idioms, the secrets, customs, events, and the arcane mysteries of the Old South. Through her descriptions of the plants and flowers and places, I felt I entered the gardens, the streets of New Orleans, and the cemeteries and as he ministered to people, I understood better the challenges facing Gilbert, Lenore’s brother and physician.
2. Poole’s diction (word choice) is amazing and used skillfully. I think this is a book that should have a reader’s guide with words and phrases listed and defined that may be new to the reader.
3. Conflict and suspense are abundant and unrelenting that should keep the reader turning pages to the very end of the 446 page novel, indicating that we are reading a very skilled novelist. As revealed by the opening epigraph, the novel’s structure and plot are influenced by Shakespeare’sThe Winter’s Tale. The novel’s opening line, “Draw the shadows, and the shapes will appear” is a brilliant opening and this line is repeated through the story. This is a mystery and is so well constructed that though the reader will speculate what will happen next, but the author will continue lead to surprising twists and complications.
4. The author uses narrative to relate her tale, through the voice of Lenore. Using narrative this skillfully is a difficult task for any novelist to accomplish, but Poole uses it well and manages to both “show and tell” in a way that holds our interest and attention.
5. This is a novel that reveals the struggles attending attraction and love. Gilbert falls for Charlotte and the reader is cheering for them to be together. For him, there is only Charlotte. The novel reveals how jealousy, the desire to exercise power and control over another, the pain of betrayal, and the cost of love can be painfully real.
Here is the MLA entry for a Works Cited:
Poole-Carter, Rosemary. Only Charlotte. Top Publications Ltd. Plano, Texas, 2018.
I remember in college how a writing instructor directed me to rewrite a submission and change it from third to first person. He said, “You will learn something from this exercise.” He was correct, and since then, when I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve rewritten other pieces in the same way. I was amazed at how Matthiessen could so capture the distinct voices and minds of Lucius in Lost Man’s River and the voice and mind of Watson himself in Bone by Bone.
Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen is a National Book Award Winner. This author of at least eight novels has in my mind created a Florida fiction masterpiece and a fantastic rendering of the legend of E. J. Watson. Shadow Country is actually a compilation of three novels: Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man’s River, and Bone by Bone. I have read Killing Mister Watson twice, and I just finished reading the following two novels. The novels are written in three distinct time frames and from three distinct points of view.
In Shadow Country, readers will find numerous reviews that praise the writing of Matthiessen–many more than I can mention in this short review. I can say that he is a writer whose other works (even if they are not about Florida) I want to read. The strengths of his writing and prose are his gifts of dialogue that capture the idioms and speech of Florida ethnic groups. He reveals numerous and interesting historical and geographical details. In his writing, the reader can discover the landscape and history of South Florida. Plants, animals, long-lost forgotten communities, customs, laws, social mores, storms, and the pioneers who settled South Florida are encountered in an unforgettable way.
To me, the most haunting fact of all is that the real E. J. Watson is a historically significant person. These novels reveal the conflicts Watson created and how people responded to Watson (and people like him), and how one’s responses to his violence (perceived, imagined, or actual), his manipulations, successes and possible benefits influenced their world.
If you are a writer who wants to see good writing, to discover numerous well-turned phrases and to encounter a little known world of South Florida, this is a collection you need to read.
February 23rd and February 24th, 2019Friday February 22, 2019 — 4th Grade Education Day
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The recent Pulpwood Girlfriend’s Weekend in Jefferson Texas was a fundraiser for Contory’s literacy efforts. This event revived my interest in Conroy’s writing, so I decided to read again his Lord’s of Discipline.
Why? Perhaps because I once lived in Charleston (James Island actually) and loved the city of Charleston and the whole area. I’ve often said it was my favorite city in the whole world. The history, culture, geography and legends have always amazed and intrigued me. While living there, I befriended some Citadel cadets and was able to visit the Citadel a few times. As I reflected on my friends, I wondered how that elite military college affected them. I decided to read the novel again and collect some thoughts on my reading. I purposely decided to not read any reviews; I just wanted to have a reader’s response to the novel.
Because of Conroy’s precise and sensory description of Charleston, I was taken back over twenty years to the days when I walked the streets of that city, strolling through the markets, investigating the stores, losing all sense of time in the museums. It was a city I could never get enough of and never fail to be surprised by. As Conroy says, it is “one of thosae cities that never lets go.”
The themes I discovered in the novel on friendship, the cruelty of men (and women), the power and pain of first love, the changing nature of memory, and the abuse of power were moving and sometimes disturbing. The old ragged paperback I read is now marked and underlined and Conroy’s vocabulary is an education in itself. I learned so much more than I intended, and that to me is a sign of a powerful book.
Some of the unforgettable lines on this read are: “I was young then, and my youth permitted me to believe I could change the world if only I could devise a cnning enough strategy” (211).
“Beautiful cities have a treacherous nature” (241).
“Great teachers had great personalities and that the greatest teachers had outrageous personalities” (271).
“The objects you valued defined you” (336).
There were so many good sentences and well-turned phrases from this very Southern writer. HERE iis a video of Conroy briefly discussing The Lords of Discipline.
Last week, I was in Jefferson, Texas at Kathy Murphy’s Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, an annual event that promotes literacy. I’ve attended it as often as I could slince the event. As usual, Kathy, a champion of literacy, organized the event well: the speakers were fantastic and motivatilng, the writers and readers who attended were sharp and excited, and the funds raised were designated to help the Pat Controy LIterary Center, which brings me to the purpose of this blog post. I was musical entertainment for the authors on Thursday night, was on one author panel, and signed my books the rest of the weekend. (Under the Witch’s Mark and others. You can see my books HERE: )
I was fortunate enough to purchase a book signed by Pat Conroy, My Reading Life. I was so happy to obtain this treasure that I did not make write or underliome in it as I usually do when I read a book I really like. From my reading of this book this week, I learned so much about Pat Conroy, his travels, his literary and reading life, the people and authors and books that influenced him, about the act and art of reading, about how reading relates to one’s writing, and about myself. I had a true and womderful literary experlience in that reading.
Here’s just a few of my favorite quotations:
“Good writing is the hardest form of thinking” (304).
“All writers are hostages of their own divine, unchangeable rituals” (206).
“The most powerful words in English are, “Tell me a story . . . (303).
“I learned how to be a man through the reading of great books” (321).
There are so many others, but I hope these will get you thinking. If you’ve been a reader of Pat Conroy’s novels, you will enjoy this book,
I have to confess–my first thoughtful reading touching the French Revolution, the time when I really understood the horror of that period in French history, was when I taught my gifted reading students, A Tale of Two Citiesby Charles Dickens. Like Anne Frank in the 1959 movie script, I thought it the saddest book I’ve ever read. I’ve never forgotten that first reading and today I still consider it one of Dickens’ best novels. Now, many years later, I came into possession of Ann Coulter’s Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America. Two chapters in that fine read deal specifically with the French Revolution, and one chapter contrasts our own American Revolution with the French.
Coulter’s two chapters dealing with the French Revolution were so powerful and affected me so deeply that I had to read them twice. They were disturbing, not only because of the vivid horror of the French Revolution she portrays so well, but also because the comparison to our own country frightened me by showing the abuses I knew could easily occur today. The seed of the mindset that created the French Revolution has been scattered throughout our own society. Here’s a few observations I drew from the chapters:
1. There was no logic to the chronology of the French Revolution. Coulter argues this is because it was a mob event, and mobs do not operate by logic. Mobs are irrational.
2. The mobs of the French Revolution were fueled by rumors and gossip.
3. The French Revolution mobs were anti-secular. Churches and spiritual leaders were attacked. The State became the official religion.
4. Lawful authorities (law enforcement of the French society) were targeted. The mob had no fear of punishment, so the mobs ran wild.
5. Beautiful and priceless monuments, statues, and art were destroyed because they offended those in the mobs.
6. Even the leaders of this revolution were not safe as other leaders and the mobs turned on them. Mobs can love someone one minute and hate the person the next.
7. Anyone who questioned the excesses and course of events was deemed unpatriotic and paid the price.
8. The French Revolution was nothing like ours. It set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution, Ma’s Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s slaughter, and America’s mindless mobs vandalizing and attacking the innocent.
If you are interested in the French Revolution, in understanding why there’s so many riots and mob occurrences now troubling our land and other nations, I encourage you to obtain Coulter’s Demonic. You will also understand much more about the mob mentality of the troublemakers in our society today.
A friend and former college student recently gave me her grandfather’s western library, including the leatherbound set of the stories of Louis Lamour. Included in this box of beautiful books was The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard. These thirty stories, set almost entirely in Arizona and New Mexico Territories, brought to life that region of the West.
The detailed sensory and detailed descriptions of the settilng and are amazing in Leonard’s writing. When I read, I have a habit of looking up every plant, animal, historical fact, geographical place, phrase or word that I am unfamiliar with. Thanks to the instant knowledge of the Internet, it is much easier to do that now than it used to be. We truly live in an age of instant knowledge. Leonard’s knowledge of the Apache culture, mindset, skills, chiefs, and wars especially stood out to me.
To sum up, if you are a western writer or reader, strongly recommend these stories. Leonard is a also a prolific screenwriter and novelist in crime and suspense. You can read more about Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) HERE: