toni mcnaron's garden

Toni McNaron has been talking about and writing books and stories for many decades. As a child, she often chose to read a good book rather than going to the local ice cream shop with neighborhood friends. After trying to be a physics and math major in college, she admitted that it was her literature class and teacher who really inspired and satisfied her intellectual curiosity. As a college professor for thirty-seven years, Toni worked with young people to help them feel the power of beautiful language and the centrality of reading about people whose actions and cultures stretched students’ perspectives and awakened empathy even for characters who overt actions might offend or frighten them.

Her own writing has ranged widely:  editing a pioneering collection of stories by women who survived incest; two memoirs of growing up in an unreconstructed South and, more recently, of wrestling with God until she has forged a comfortable faith for herself as a lesbian-feminist; editing essays about famous sister pairs in literature; editing and writing articles about Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, writing in code, pedagogical concerns, and attraction based on sameness rather than opposition.

Since 2001, Toni has been able to refashion how she wants to spend her time, finding in retirement creative ways to “teach” good books to curious adults even as she has turned her considerable yard into a series of wonderful gardens that sustain her, lots of local birds, and the occasional welcomed bunny rabbit. In these times so full of race-based inequities, Toni has decided to use her considerable teaching skills to introduce mostly white and older readers to books by and about black life now and into the inglorious past. This is her way to resist as she enters more seriously into consideration of mortality.

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Serena and Tiger

In the August 14th New York Times, there's an article by Karen Crouse, a sports reporter for the paper, entitled "Tiger and Serena Confront Twilight and Aching Backs."  Crouse clearly admires both stellar athletes, even saying they achieved unique status in their...

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Toni Morrison

A cherished friend just called me to be the one to tell me that Toni Morrison has died.   For half a century she has given us book after book after book filled with characters who don't always succeed but who never lose humanity. For half a century she has helped me...

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Social Attraction

A friend and I are just back from a magical trip to Eastern Egg Rock in Maine.  That's where a lively colony of puffins now lives, though 40 years ago, almost all the little brightly colored shore birds had essentially vanished from their home.  Between using feathers...

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