The Machine in the Garden

The year I began teaching literature at the University of Minnesota in 1964, Leo Marx published his important book, The Machine in the Garden.  Though Marx was teaching literature in the newly minted department of American Studies, I never met him.  Because everyone...

Salvage the Bones: Coda

When I set out to write about Jesmyn Ward’s novel, Salvage the Bones, I meant to speak about several aspects that have moved me and driven me to deep thought.  I became so wrapped up in talking about Skeetah’s relationship with his white pit bull, China,...

Salvage the Bones

I’m definitely a cat person when we are dividing the world into cat people or dog people.  So when I began Jesmyn Ward’s 2010 novel, Salvage the Bones, I was not immediately drawn in.  The opening scene depicts a female pit bull named China as she gives...

Art and Politics

An old friend of mine generously provides me with clippings from magazines like The New Yorker and The Atlantic because she knows I don’t subscribe to them but will want to have read parts of them.  She also sends me links to articles from The New York Times for...

Walt Dropo

In Birmingham, Alabama, in my childhood years (the 1940s), there were two professional baseball teams–the Birmingham Barons (all white) and the Black Barons (all black).   These two teams alternated performing at Rickwood Field and I went to games fairly...

“Coming to America”

Often I am very late in coming to know about people or events popular around me.  So it is with Eddie Murphy, though I am happy to learn that we share April 3rd as our birthday.  Of course, I know his name as a comedian of major significance, but comedy is not my...