Articles on this Page
- 05/24/13--12:00: _I Sit and I Think: ...
- 05/24/13--21:01: _4 Great Ways to Spe...
- 05/25/13--08:00: _Memorial Day Sale: ...
- 05/25/13--11:00: _The Song on the Rad...
- 05/25/13--21:01: _5 Ways to Travel Ba...
- 05/26/13--08:00: _On "Memorial Day"
- 05/27/13--06:00: _Julia Dye, Lt. John...
- 05/27/13--07:00: _Capt. Dale Dye USMC...
- 05/27/13--08:00: _Archival Photo: Jam...
- 05/28/13--08:00: _Remembering Walker ...
- 05/29/13--07:00: _Shattered Dreams: A...
- 05/29/13--08:03: _To the Moon and Bac...
- 05/29/13--10:00: _Upgrade Dad this Fa...
- 05/31/13--13:15: _Discover the Marily...
- 05/31/13--13:24: _The Barbara Pym Cen...
- 06/03/13--12:29: _Christopher Bram: "...
- 06/04/13--08:30: _Children’s Ebooks 6...
- 06/05/13--06:00: _John Jakes' Classic...
- 06/05/13--13:00: _Graduation Advice: ...
- 06/06/13--05:00: _An Eagle, A Fox, A ...
- 05/24/13--12:00: I Sit and I Think: Reflections on Memorial Day
- 05/24/13--21:01: 4 Great Ways to Spend Time with Your Family
- 05/25/13--11:00: The Song on the Radio: A Memorial Day Playlist
- 05/25/13--21:01: 5 Ways to Travel Back in Time Without Leaving Your Couch
- 05/26/13--08:00: On "Memorial Day"
- 05/27/13--07:00: Capt. Dale Dye USMC (Ret) Shares His Thoughts On Memorial Day
- 05/27/13--08:00: Archival Photo: James Jones, A Soldier's Voice
- 05/28/13--08:00: Remembering Walker Percy: An Interview with Rhoda K. Faust
- 05/29/13--07:00: Shattered Dreams: A Sneak Peak at Mother Earth Father Sky
- 05/29/13--08:03: To the Moon and Back: Encounter with Tiber
- 05/29/13--10:00: Upgrade Dad this Father's Day
- 05/31/13--13:15: Discover the Marilyn behind the Myth: Two Iconic Monroe Biographies
- 05/31/13--13:24: The Barbara Pym Centenary
- Get news and updates from The Barbara Pym Society—this site is a treasure trove of information about Pym's life and work, as well as major conferences and events around the globe.
- Check out Laura Miller's Salon article, "Barbara Pym gets rediscovered—again," and Carrie Frye's piece for The Awl, "Marvelous Spinster Barbara Pym At 100," for critical introductions, advice on where to start reading, and a general whetting of the appetite for American readers.
- Try a sample: read an excerpt from A Glass of BlessingsorSome Tame Gazelleon Scribd.
- Ready to jump in? Join Thomas at My Porch and Amanda at Fig and Thistle to celebrate Barbara Pym Reading Week, and participate in the virtual tea party organized by Heavenali.
- 06/03/13--12:29: Christopher Bram: "Being a Boy Scout Saved My Life"
- 06/04/13--08:30: Children’s Ebooks 60% Off: Avoid the Summer Slide
- 06/05/13--06:00: John Jakes' Classic America in the Future
- 06/05/13--13:00: Graduation Advice: Al Checchi on Leadership
- “First, I think you have to be a malcontent—someone willing to wage war against the status quo —one who, in Dylan Thomas’s words, won’t go silently and will ‘rage against the dying of the light.’”
- “You have to be a truth seeker and be willing to go wherever that search takes you. How can you make things better if you spend your time spinning facts and denying reality?”
- “You have to have courage—a willingness to take on ‘insurmountable’ challenges, a willingness to expose yourself and to fail, then pick yourself up and try again—and if necessary, again and again. Winston Churchill famously said, ‘Never, never, never give up.’ He didn’t—real leaders don’t.”
- “You must have integrity—a commitment to immutable principles and ethical standards. How else can you retain the moral authority necessary to bring out the best in people and enlist them in collective action?”
- “Lastly, real leaders are animated by a personal vision of what should be and a passionate desire to make their vision a reality—Bobby Kennedy often paraphrased George Bernard Shaw: ‘Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I dream things that never were and say, Why not?’”
Gene Rackovitch entered the Marine Corps in 1944. In March 1945, he was attached to C Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. At the end of the Second World War, he was sent to Guam where he was stationed for eighteen months. There he amassed the material for his novel, Marines and Renegades.
Rackovitch’s guiding philosophy is that “life is an adventure not only for the celebrated, but for each and every one of us.” We asked him to share with our readers, his thoughts on Memorial Day.
I Sit and Think
I sit and think then cry like a child with a broken toy. I read an article by a colonel of the Second Calvary during the Viet Nam war as he was a captain, that explains how he felt burying his 78 dead, and I cry for him. I read an excerpt from the poem “In Flanders Field” for the crosses one on one and I cry. Then I think of my friends and how we have had the pleasure of lasting these 80-odd years and I cry for those that died and made it happen. I don’t know how it happens, it just does; I cry. I sit and think and realize how luck has played a part of my being here to write this.
I’m in a replacement draft in the Hawaii Islands in 1945. We are counted off alphabetically: those with names beginning with the letters A through Q are sent to Okinawa, the rest of us from R to the end of the alphabet are sent to Maui as replacements for the 4th Marine Division; the war ends while I’m on maneuvers there.
I think of the men who went to Okinawa and wonder how many of them died there taking my place and I feel for them. Of all that has happened to me, I wonder why I am still here.
After I wipe my eyes, I say to myself how stupid I am to break down like that. Then the realization comes to me of the great and full life I've had; and I smile, for that’s what it’s all about.
[Photo Credit:National Archives/United States Marine Corps]
This Memorial Day, take a break from your routine and catch up with your family. Whether you're looking to read with your kids or spend some quality time cooking for the whole clan, we’ve got titles that will be sure to bring you together. From the Boxcar Children to the Canal House cookbook series, these bundles are not only convenient and affordable, they will also appeal to readers young and old alike.
Looking for something else? We have great ebook collections of science fiction & fantasy, mysteries & thrillers, historical, literary classics, and romance. Browse the collections here. Follow our Memorial Day weekend blog series to find your perfect literary getaway.
Canal House Cooking by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
Cooking a meal is great way to get the whole family together—so why not get inspired by some new recipes? From celebrated home cooks Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton comes Canal House Cooking, a compendium of books that will be indispensable to any home cook. With a focus on seasonal produce that is readily available in most markets across the United States, Canal House provides simple but impressive recipes, suitable for every occasion. Volume N° 1 is devoted to showing you how to make the most of the bright flavors of the long, lazy days of summer—from sumptuous tomatoes to juicy melons. Volume N° 2 takes on the harvest and the holidays—with tips from how to make the perfect stuffing to creating a whole meal that will bring your entire family together. Volume N° 3 covers the recipes that are perfect from when the frigid winter months set in right up until when the first tender shoots of spring emerge. No need to enroll in a course at Le Cordon Bleu—Hirsheimer and Hamilton are home cooks who cook for home cooks, so this bundle is perfect for novice and experienced cooks alike.
Boxcar Children by Gertrude C. Warner
The Boxcar Children series is just as engrossing and timeless as it was upon its first publication over fifty years ago. Containing the first twelve books in the series, this bundle centers around the adventures of four orphaned siblings who live in an abandoned boxcar, and in their spare time, solve mysteries. This is a perfect introduction to the classic series, sure to captivate any young reader; what’s more, this affordable bundle contains ten titles for the price of twelve.
The Erma Bombeck Collection
A master at describing the trials and tribulations of living in the suburban home, Erma Bombeck’s immensely popular newspaper column made her a beloved commentator on American family life. A bestselling author of fifteen books, Bombeck expertly combines wit and heart in all of her work. The Erma Bombeck Collection contains three of Bombeck’s most highly regarded works. In If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, Bombeck chronicles the seldom-discussed aspects of married life, while Motherhood describes the thanklessness of parenting with humor and warmth. The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank is Bombeck’s ode to the suburban landscape, complete with all of its idiosyncrasies and quirks. Bombeck’s unique voice and hilarious insights will surely resonate with any beleaguered resident of suburbia.
Franklin by Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois
Adored by millions of children the world over, Brenda Clark and Paulette Bourgeois’s Franklin the Turtle series has sold over sixty-five million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. With its beautifully rendered illustrations and compelling fables, this bundle will be sure to captivate your little one. From fear of the dark and thunderstorms to learning how to give gifts, these three titles are great for teaching youngsters how to overcome setbacks and face their fears.
Each May, Memorial Day reminds us to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom. In remembrance of these brave men and women—our fallen heroes—Open Road Media is offering a collection of bestselling and critically acclaimed ebooks now priced at $4.99 and less through Memorial Day.
We've divided the collection into historic periods:
And be sure to check back daily for new features, exclusive videos, author guest posts and more!
[Today's Memorial Day Weekend Guest Post is from Doug Bradley, author of DEROS Vietnam: Dispatches from the Air-Conditioned Jungle. The Spotify musical accompaniment: Memorial Day 2013: Veterans' Choice is based on selections from Vietnam Veterans.]
The Song on the Radio
Any Vietnam playlist would begin and end with a 1965 tune that wasn’t supposed to be recorded by the British group that made it a hit, a song that more than one Vietnam veteran has labeled “our national anthem.”
I remember a very hot Southeast Asian night more than 40 years ago when my fellow hoochmates and I sat around a radio in anticipation of AFVN’s (Armed Forces Vietnam Network) embarking on a 72-hour music marathon. Almost immediately, we began wagering bets (MPC, then more valuable ration cards) on what song would be the first one played. One drunk GI argued early for any song by “the King, Elvis himself,” and others equally vociferously for Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” or the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
Eventually, we’d amassed a gigantic pile of ration cards and odds for everything from “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys (a 25-1 longshot) to “Fortunate Son” by CCR (6-1 odds) to Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” (a surprising 4-1 favorite) and “Light My Fire” by the Doors (gaining at 7-2). Shouts of “Right on,” “GI number one,” and “There it is,” ran up against an equal volley of “Numbah ten,” “Eat shit” and “Dinky dau.” More than two dozen of America’s finest waved their ration cars and shouted the names of their favorite songs.
One minute to midnight in Vietnam. There wasn’t a sound except for the crackling of the Armed Forces Radio waves . . .
A bass guitar began to lay down a hard line. By the time the riff started to repeat, looks of recognition spread across every face in the hooch. How did we miss it? Jaws agape, mouths wide open, our GI faces draped in ‘are you kidding me?’ grins as Eric Burdon growled:
Where the sun refused to shine
People tell me there ain’t no use in tryin’ . . .”
By the time he and the rest of the Animals hit the chorus, we were singing along with the words that expressed what every soldier in Vietnam was always thinking: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place!”Nobody, NOBODY, had gotten it right. Arguing about the music, we’d forgotten just where in the hell we were.
Memorial Day offers the perfect break from daily stress and allows us to indulge our pet interests. Why not cozy up with our selection of historical fiction and nonfiction? From the struggles of the Civil War to the medical schools of eleventh-century Persia, our selection of bundles will immediately transport you to a faraway time and place. The best part? Whether or not you make it to the museum, you can learn about history without ever leaving your couch!
Looking for something else? Browse our entire ebook "boxed" sets and find science fiction & fantasy, mysteries & thrillers, literary classics, children's, cooking, and romance. Follow our Memorial Day blog series to find the perfect literary getaway.
The North and South Trilogy by John Jakes
Get lost in the drama of the Civil War with John Jakes’s irresistible North and South Trilogy, which chronicles the unlikely friendship forged between Southerner Orry Main and Pennsylvanian George Hazard. North and South, the first in the series, takes place just before the War. Main and Hazard meet at West Point, where they become quick friends. However, escalating tensions between the North and South threaten to destroy their relationship. Love and War and Heaven and Hellfurther explore the Main-Hazard rivalry as the conflict reaches a crescendo and the after-effects of the War devastate the South. On both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, Main and Hazard face heartache and triumph as they fight for the future of both the nation and their loved ones. Jakes’s vivid evocation of antebellum America and his pitch-perfect rendering of male friendship will entrance any fan of historical fiction.
The Yellowstone Kelly Novels by Peter Bowen
A mythic figure of the Old West, Luther “Yellowstone” Kelly was an intrepid traveler who, from the Great Plains to Africa to the Philippines, embarked on a number of unbelievable adventures and met some of the most enduring figures of the Wild West. Peter Bowen’s four wonderful novels contained within this bundle bring the outsized character to life. From hunting with the Nez Percé to serving in the Boer Wars in South Africa to meeting Theodore Roosevelt, Bowen expertly brings Yellowstone’s remarkable world to life.
The Complete Titanic Chronicles by Walter Lord
Why are we endlessly fascinated by the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic? From the Academy Award–winning blockbusterto the recent miniseries, we remain riveted and horrified well into the twenty-first century. The Complete Titanic Chronicles contains both A Night to Remember and The Night Lives On. In the former, Walter Lord has compiled the interviews of sixty-three survivors and woven them into an engrossing look at what exactly happened on that frigid night in April 1912. In The Night Lives On, Lord takes a comprehensive look at the stories—both mythical and factual—that the sinking of the Titanic has generated. Was the ship really christened before its maiden voyage? How did its wireless operators fail so badly? Both titles serve as great companion pieces and are indispensable to any Titanic obsessive.
The Cole Trilogy by Noah Gordon
Noah Gordon’s sweeping Cole Trilogy tracks one family’s gift for medicine that spans over one thousand years. A riveting modern classic, The Physician features Robert Cole, an orphan in eleventh-century England, who travels to Persia in order to study with the most impressive healer of the day. His love for medicine, however, is rivaled by his newfound love for a woman. Shamanfollows the adventures of Cole’s descendent Dr. Robert Judson Cole, who emigrates from Scotland to the hinterlands of Illinois. He learns ancient healing wisdom from the remaining members of the Sauk tribe and marries a settler woman; yet the impending Civil War threatens the stability that Cole has forged in his community. The final installment of the series, Matters of Choice, features Roberta Jeanne d’Arc Cole, a spirited and ambitious doctor. Her gender and fierce commitment to her job at an abortion clinic, however, costs her an appointment as associate chief of medicine at her hospital in Boston. As she retreats to her summer house, Roberta must temper her own yearning to become a doctor with her advocacy for reproductive rights. This engrossing trilogy is both critically acclaimed and immensely readable.
The American Experiment by James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns’ The American Experiment is a sweeping and comprehensive study of the development of America. From the framing of the Constitution to the end of the Cold War, Burns incisively chronicles the growing pains and transformations of a nation in a captivating three-volume set. The first in the series, The Vineyard of Liberty, centers on the birth of a nation and the development of its culture, politics, customs, and idea of liberty. Volume two, The Workshop of Democracy, details the rapid expansion of the American landscape and focuses on America’s dramatic rise to becoming a superpower. The Crosswinds of Freedom, the final installment, tracks the impacts of both the Great Depression and the Cold War, as well as the rapid pace of technological change that gave rise to the “American Century.” Burns’ captivating prose and remarkable research will be sure to satisfy any American history junkie.
(Photo caption: LtCol Michael Moffett and Fahim Fazli at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, in May of 2010.)
Michael I. Moffett, (LtCol, USMC, ret), co-author of FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor's Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back, shares his thoughts on Memorial Day in today's guest post.
Memorial Day is special. Among other things, it means “May.” It used to mean May 30, but now it's the last Monday in May, for convenience purposes and those long weekends. I liked it better when it was officially May 30—that being my birthday. There were always parades on May 30 to help celebrate. I always paid special attention to Memorial Day, and understood that it was a time to remember deceased veterans. Veterans Day is to recognize living military people. Many still get the purposes of each day confused.
Both days remain special to me, now a retired Marine Corps infantry officer, but Memorial Day became even more special in 2010. I was with the Marines in Afghanistan that May, and had met a charismatic interpreter named Fahim Fazli. A native Afghan, he'd escaped the chaos of his native land 27 years earlier. Fahim went on to become not only an American citizen, but a Hollywood movie actor who returned to Afghanistan as a translator. I met him in the volatile Afghan town of Delaram and was moved by his humanity and his love for America. He said he wanted to write a book. I said I could help and we exchanged business cards. We stayed in touch after we each returned to America and we outlined his narrative. We found a wonderful publisher who appreciated the military, Fahim, and his story's potential.
We spent a year working on the project and I learned a lot about my new Afghan brother, including the fact that we shared a May 30 birthday. When we finally completed FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor's Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back in the spring of 2012, it was time to celebrate with a book launching.
And it was no coincidence that we had this very special event on May 30 – our own Memorial Day!
As I write this, somebody somewhere is standing watch, defending my right to play ball and grill hot dogs today. To date, 848,163 people have died in all of our wars combined. Even so, we have been remarkably fortunate in our wars compared to the people and property lost by almost every other nation. The Soviets, for instance, suffered more than a million total casualties just in the Battle of Stalingrad. And yet each of our lost boys is one family's tragedy, and one nation's hope.
My father was a veteran of World War II, flying B-24 Liberators in Europe. One uncle served in Belgium; one in the Pacific. Another was an artillery officer. I married a Marine; his father served, his uncle was at Pearl Harbor. I know the price that they paid. And I know they faced the enemies of liberty so that I would not have to.
When first declaring Memorial Day in 1868, John A. Logan, Commander in Chief, wrote, "We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance....Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds....Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."
If you want to know what Memorial Day means, listen to Mike Corrado's On My Watch Tonight.
Photo is of my father, Lt. John Dewey, with Abraham Lincoln and some really tight shoes.
This Memorial Day Guest Post is from Julia Dye, PhD, author of BACKBONE: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons of Marine Corps NCOs.
Retired Marine officer, actor, director and author, Dale Dye, reminds readers of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Like a lot of other Americans these days I’m spending too much time pissed off about way too many things in this great nation of ours. I’m not perceptive enough to fully understand how we got ourselves into such a mess but I do know it’s gotten me to thinking about Memorial Day this year. And that’s another thing that pisses me off.
As a veteran, I’m angry that this day will be passed by most of my countrymen with not one thought about the millions of Americans who lost their lives in our nation’s wars or undeclared conflicts. As one who has watched men die in combat, I’m upset that we’ve lost perspective on what Memorial Day means. Back in 1868 General John Logan decided his nation had forgotten the fallen on both sides of the bloody Civil War. He issued a proclamation that eventually led to declaration of a day of remembrance for all our war dead. That’s how we wound up with a red-letter day on our national calendar meant to provide a break from everyday chores and honor those who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve our freedom.
Somehow we’ve managed to turn that day into a combination barbecue, beer-bust, shopping mall safari and three-day weekend fun-fest. It’s just too damn bad for the veterans resting under their somber headstones who can’t join in the festivities. That’s a national travesty. Does it mean that the good people of my polyglot nation really don’t give a damn about the courageous men and women who died just because their nation asked them to risk it and they believed it was their duty, their obligation and their honor to take the chance of losing it all? I hope not but I’m finding it hard to see contrary signals.
Notice when I’m talking about these fallen Americans I don’t use terms like “gave their lives” and you shouldn’t either. That would imply they wanted to die. Believe me when I tell you they wanted to live but they came up short on luck of the draw in combat. They wanted to live freely in a nation that gives them a chance for success and happiness if they survived and worked hard for it. That promise made taking the chance on dying in combat worth the risk. This Memorial Day – and every day we draw breath in this great nation – we need to remember that.
[Photo caption: My Dad would be among the biggest partiers on Memorial Day. He’d take a moment from the beer and festivities to remember his buddies who never made it home like he did after World War II. He was that kind of guy. He’d love to celebrate Memorial Day this year but he can’t. He lies here.]
In celebration of Memorial Day, we remember the Open Road Media authors—and families of authors—who spent time in service.
James Jones (1921–1977) was one of the preeminent American writers of the twentieth century. With a series of three novels written in the decades following World War II, he established himself as one of the foremost chroniclers of the modern soldier’s life.
In this rare photo, Jones stands outside the same trailer camp where he wrote his masterpiece, From Here to Eternity, which tells the unforgettable story of a soldier who becomes an outcast after refusing to box for his company team. Set against the backdrop of Pearl Harbor, the book is an unflinching look at a motley crew of some of the destitute, homeless, and desperate characters that made up America’s pre-WWII peacetime army. When the book was published in 1951, it sold 90,000 copies in its first month and created such a public outcry that it has since been credited with playing a significant role in reshaping unjust army practices. It also won the National Book Award, beating out The Catcher in the Rye.
Jones’ epic novels were heavily influenced by his experience serving in the army. After witnessing the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jones was sent to Guadalcanal, where he distinguished himself in battle, at one point killing an enemy soldier barehanded. While Jones was awarded a bronze star for bravery, he had to be shipped home in 1943 when an old injury to his ankle made it impossible for him to continue serving. Following a period of convalescence in Memphis, Jones requested a limited-duty assignment and a short leave. When these were denied, he went AWOL, only to return a few months later, spending a year as a “buck-ass private” (a term he coined) before being promoted to sergeant. In the summer of 1944, showing signs of severe post-traumatic stress—then called “combat fatigue”—he was honorably discharged.
Jones then moved to Paris, where he lived for most of the rest of his life, contributing regularly to the Paris Review and continuing to write classic novels such as The Thin Red Lineand The Merry Month of May.
Rhoda K. Faust is the administrative assistant for the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing. She is the former proprietor of the Maple Street Book Shop, an independent bookstore in New Orleans, Louisiana, founded by her family in 1964. Walker Percy was a frequent visitor of the Maple Street Book Shop; Faust met him when she was a child and maintained a close friendship with him for many years. Recently, she agreed to help Open Road celebrate Percy’s legacy by sharing some of her memories about him and his work. To learn more about Faust, please visit the websites of the Maple Street Book Shop and the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing.
How did you first meet Walker Percy?
I didn’t remember meeting Walker Percy for the first time until he mentioned much later that he particularly remembered the circumstances around his meeting me. He and his wife Bunt had invited my family to their house in Covington to go on a picnic with Walker’s brother Phin, (through whom my father, Dick Faust, met Walker), his family, and some Covington friends of the Percys. Walker was a doctor, as was my father, who was a surgeon and rather strict and obsessive. He used to go on Catholic retreats at Manresa with Walker, Phin, and some other friends. My mother later confirmed Walker’s memory that I was about six or seven years old when we first met, because she remembered that my little brother Robbie was in a basket on the beach at the picnic.
When we arrived at the Percys’, Walker said that he answered the door and that one of the first things that happened is that my father asked me if I’d brushed my teeth that morning. When I said “no,” I had not, my father asked Walker if he’d let me use some toothpaste so I could “brush” my teeth with my finger. Walker said sure and led me to the guest bathroom and gave me some toothpaste.
After Walker told me this story about thirty years later, I asked him why he was so struck by it and remembered it for so long. He said that he was interested in my Dad’s strange question and in my “confession.” He said it was very unlike any interchange he as a father had had with his own daughters—and that it made him want to see how I would turn out.
How would you describe his personality?
He was warm, soft-spoken, welcoming, and present—but still sort of elusive. Not shy, exactly, but quiet and never attention-grabbing. Normally he asked questions more than he made revealing remarks or conversation.
His body language bespoke of a certain awkwardness or embarrassment that I think he felt when he was in a situation that he thought he’d have to escape from—such as a long, rambling conversation with someone he didn’t know very well, or a request or invitation he knew he’d want to refuse.
At autograph parties that he graciously allowed my book shop to host, Walker would be in some degree of misery because he was afraid of hurting people’s feelings if he forgot their names. He got me to sit to his left in order to help “prep” him. While he was signing and inscribing for the person whose turn it was, I was supposed to tell the next person in line that I needed to write his name on an index card. This was ostensibly so that Walker would spell it correctly when he inscribed the book, but in reality so that I could slip the card to Walker to remind him of the person’s name. People would look perplexed when I insisted on writing down their name even after they told me that the book was to be inscribed to someone else.
There were four or five regular gatherings that Walker organized in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I was part of one weekly get-together that met every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. for lunch at Bechac’s (a restaurant on Lake Ponchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana—near Covington, where Walker lived). He liked meeting often with friends as a committed way of staying connected. And sometimes he’d tell me I should come early and bring books of his from my shop for him to sign. He would occasionally invite his visitors from out of town, as well as authors, students, journalists, movie stars, and other people wanting some time with him.
Another get-together was a Tuesday night great books group (the Mortimer
Adler course) in Covington that my boyfriend Bob Milling (a writer friend
and neighbor of Walker’s) and I used to attend—I think it met every
couple of weeks.
I was sometimes frustrated because I especially wanted to hear what Walker had to say and people wouldn’t, in my opinion, give him enough of an opening. At times Walker would start to say something and stammer a bit, and then someone else would jump in. Maybe that was OK with him because he was much more inclined to listen than to talk.
Walker loved to laugh and I think he probably made lots of jokes that went right by me. Eventually I realized how funny he was and had the opportunity to make up for my whatever-you-call it. Dullness? When he asked me and several other lunch people to read some of his books in manuscript, most of the comments I made in the margins were about how funny he was. He definitely enjoyed hearing how much he cracked me up.
What did you admire most about him?
What I admired most about Walker Percy was that he became committed to living up to his beliefs. Being a good husband and a good father were all-important to him. He wanted to be a moral person. He was hardworking and trustworthy. He was a loyal friend.
Not that he was perfect. When he realized one time that something he was doing was causing someone else pain, he consciously decided to change his behavior, and he explained his moral reasoning to those affected.
I admired his intellect. While he was alive, I was only beginning to understand his brilliance as a writer, and I hadn’t even read his essays yet, so I had no idea yet how brilliant he was as a thinker.
I admired his strong convictions and I am eternally grateful to him for helping me find my way back to the Catholic Church. I had been lapsed for thirty years and was definitely being a “jellyfish,” to use a word the nuns would say. When I asked him one time if he believed the whole bit about Jesus being the Son of God and coming to earth to be crucified to save us from our sins, he said he was “choosing to believe it.” And he said he was committed to practicing his Catholic faith, and that he and Bunt walked to Mass almost every day. He made me understand that even though faith in Jesus is a gift, it’s on offer to everyone, so yes, we can choose to accept it.
And I admired him for his courage in risking ridicule for his writings, especially in The Thanatos Syndrome. (See below.)
Do you have a favorite Percy novel? If so, why that one in particular?
I am transformed whenever I read any of his writings—fiction or nonfiction. I “come to” and feel more alive—as he describes in his books. No, I don’t have a favorite. I love them all. If a customer of mine at the book shop would ask which Walker Percy novel to start with, I always said The Moviegoer, since I like going chronologically. And if the person preferred nonfiction, I would suggest Lost in the Cosmos.
Walker would say that you can’t use a hammer to make your point to your readers or you’ll lose them right and left. He would say that he had to convey his ideas carefully and subtly. He once asked our lunch group to review a certain section of Lost in the Cosmos because he was worried that he’d come on too strong.
Nevertheless, he was willing to come on very strong in The Thanatos Syndrome. I think he was willing to risk personal and artistic attacks by literary critics and his own fans because he was so horrified by the evil of abortion and euthanasia. In this book, at any costs, he decided to let his readers know in the very clearest terms what he thought.
How did the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing come about?
After Hurricane Katrina, Loyola University looked to create Centers of Excellence that would give Loyola national exposure. The people at Loyola who were responsible for making the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing a reality were Robert Bell, Chris Chambers, and Mary McCay (the current director). Happily for me, after running the Maple Street Book Shop for thirty-seven years and then retiring, I became administrative assistant to Mary in the summer of 2010.
In what way do you think Percy’s work continues to speak to our time?
I believe his work speaks to the essential nature of mankind, which does not change with time. I believe it is in our nature to need help and guidance. What so many people find in Walker’s books is a recognition of those needs. Along with the recognition comes the joy of feeling connected to someone else who shares that recognition. No wonder people love his books.
“This world is not our home . . .” as Reverend Barnes and Sister Brown sing in one of their gospel songs. If you believe that, and I do, there will always be a need for the “search,” as Walker Percy puts it.
ABOUT THE WALKER PERCY CENTER
The goal of the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing is to foster literary talent and achievement, to highlight the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to support authors, teachers, students, and readers. The Center was named for Walker Percy to honor his work as an author, Catholic, and former Loyola faculty member.
The Center’s Press publishes fiction, poetry, philosophy, and religious studies—all part of what Percy called “the search,” work that contributes to the expansion of the intellectual and cultural landscape. The WPC Press also publishes the New Orleans Review, a biannual journal of contemporary literature and photography.
We are delighted to share an excerpt from Mother Earth Father Sky, written by acclaimed author Sue Harrison. Set in the midst of the last brutal Ice Age in 7056 BC, the novel follows the journey of a young woman, Chagak, who loses her entire way of life in one horrific and violent moment.
Left with only a birdskin parka for warmth and her infant brother to care for, she sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge.
Harrison describes this empowering story as her "attempt to give a dimensional reality, within the minds of my readers, to prehistoric events and customs, the knowledge of which has been handed down to our present age only through remains excavated by archaeologists and interpreted by anthropologists."
At age twenty-seven, inspired by the cold Upper Michigan forest that surrounded her home and the outdoor survival skills she had learned from her father and her husband, Harrison began researching the people who understood best how to live in a harsh environment: the North American native peoples. She studied six Native American languages and completed extensive research on culture, geography, archaeology, and anthropology during the nine years she spent writingMother Earth Father Sky.Mother Earth Father Sky is an international bestseller and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991.
With the vast amount of science fiction out there, it can be easy to forget that some of the scenarios presented by the genre are within our reach. Society’s advancements in space exploration have closed the gap between humanity and the unknown, and there are no better human connections to the beyond than astronauts. With the publication of Buzz Aldrin’s, Encounter with Tiber, how can we not focus on Aldrin’s actual experiences in space and his legacy as one of the handful of people ever to have walked on the Moon?
Aldrin’s NASA career began in 1963, when he was accepted into the program after initially being rejected for never having been a test pilot. In 1966, he piloted the Gemini 12 mission, where he set a record for extravehicular activity. By setting this record, Aldrin proved that it was possible for astronauts to work outside of a spacecraft. His next mission would be the legendary Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, in July 1969. Along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, Apollo 11 was the first mission to land humans on the Moon. On July 21, Armstrong would be the first man to walk on the Moon, with Aldrin being the second; Collins piloted the spacecraft until Aldrin and Armstrong returned. Apollo 11’s Moon landing effectively ended the Space Race with the Soviet Union, which also planned on sending a man to the Moon. Since their infamous landing, other astronauts have landed on the Moon, but Aldrin and Armstrong will always be the first.
Aldrin’s space explorations make his telling of an adventure that extends beyond his experiences seem realistic. Encounter with Tiber traces the history of an alien race, the Tiberians, who populated Earth’s Moon nearly eight thousand years ago. Against the backdrop of the mysteries of this civilization is story of the Terence family. Chris Terence has ambitions of going to the Moon; however, the space program has diminished to the point of being almost meaningless. When Chris is finally allowed to make a lunar mission, he finds evidence of the Tiberian civilization. The mystery behind the Tiberian population will span several Terence generations as they try to figure out the Tiberians’ lives as well as their own.
For more information on Buzz Aldrin and his voyage into fiction, visit his author page here.
Dads can get a little “comfortable,” to put it kindly. Some sport the same haircut for thirty years; others can’t let go of that old college sweatshirt. This Father’s Day, you can give him some gentle upgrades that he’ll be sure to appreciate: a hearty-yet-sophisticated dinner and a cozy-yet-stylish gift to wear. You have a few weeks to get your needles working and to practice your culinary techniques, so get started now!
Upgrade Dad’s drink from beer to a Jack Manhattan. This cocktail from Canal House Cooking Volume N° 2: Fall & Holidayby Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton is as masculine as it is classy (not to mention delicious).
Upgrade Dad’s entrée from a burger to Stuffed Veal Breast. Jacques Pépin New Complete Techniquesbreaks down the process step by step, using plenty of photos, so that this extra-special dish is no more intimidating than firing up the grill.
Upgrade Dad’s dessert from cookies to Not-So-Traditional Apple Pie. These luscious layers of caramelized apples were created by Gesine Bullock-Prado in her cookbook Pie It Forward. One look at these photos and you’ll be a convert.
Upgrade Dad’s ratty sweater to a handmade Basic Cardigan. Knitters, never fear: Knits Men Wantby Bruce Weinstein is full of patterns specifically designed to make the average dad happy and relaxed in his new garment.
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius,
and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
She is famous for singing happy birthday to a president, but let’s pause for a moment and remember Marilyn Monroe herself, who would be eighty-seven tomorrow.
For a woman whose image is preserved forever in the records of pop-culture history, Monroe has remained largely a mystery since her tragic death in 1962 at age thirty-six. We know she grew up as Norma Jean Baker and then used a bottle of peroxide to transform herself from an attractive brunette to a blonde bombshell. We know she had an acting career that encompassed both comedic roles as the “dumb blonde” and sexier roles in which she wiggled her way to cinema history. We know there were men. We know there were drugs. But just who was the real Marilyn Monroe?
In these two iconic biographies by Gloria Steinem and Anthony Summers, we get a glimpse at the woman behind the myth.
Gloria Steinem’s insightful and uniquely sensitive account of Hollywood’s brightest star from the Golden Age.
Few books have altered the perception of a celebrity as much as Marilyn. Gloria Steinem reveals that behind the familiar sex symbol was a tortured spirit with powerful charisma, intelligence, and complexity.
The book delves into a topic many other writers have ignored—that of Norma Jeane, the young girl who grew up with an unstable mother, constant shuffling between foster homes, and abuse. Steinem evocatively recreates that world, connecting it to the fragile adult persona of Marilyn Monroe. Her compelling text draws on a long, private interview Monroe gave to photographer George Barris, part of an intended joint project begun during Monroe’s last summer. Steinem’s Marilyn also includes Barris’s extraordinary portraits of Monroe, taken just weeks before the star’s death.
The definitive biography of one of America’s brightest stars.
Hers was a brief life that still fascinates the world. Marilyn Monroe was born in obscurity and deprivation, and rose to become a legend of her century, a great actress, and a lover of the most famous men in America—only to die young and under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind a mystery that remains unsolved to this day.
Anthony Summers interviewed more than six hundred people, laying bare the truths—sometimes funny, often sad—about this brilliant, troubled woman. The first to gain access to the files of Monroe’s last psychiatrist, Summers uses the documents to explain her tangled psyche and her dangerous addiction to medications. He establishes, after years of mere rumor, that President Kennedy and his brother Robert were both intimately involved with Monroe in life—and in covering up the circumstances of her death.
June 2 marks one hundred years since the birth of bestselling and award-winning English novelist Barbara Pym (1913-1980).
Pym's first book, Some Tame Gazelle (1950), launched her career as a writer beloved for her social comedies of class and manners. Pym is the only author to be named twice in a Times Literary Supplement list of “the most underrated novelists of the century.” She produced thirteen novels, the last three published posthumously.
Open Road Media is very proud to publish five novels by Barbara Pym (as well as The Barbara Pym Cookbook) as both ebooks and paperbacks in the United States. The collection includes A Glass of Blessings, Jane and Prudence, Less Than Angels, No Fond Return of Love, andSome Tame Gazelle.
It was a great honor to attend the Barbara Pym Society's "100 Years of Pym" conference this March in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and speak with some of the incredible thinkers at the event, including Clemence Schultze, Yvonne Cocking, Laura Shapiro, and Robin Joyce.
With Barbara Pym's birthday approaching on Sunday, we invite you to watch this brand-new mini-documentary video on the literary legacy of the iconic writer:
More Pym-tastic resources:
In celebration of National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, we are proud to spotlight authors who fight discrimination and promote equal rights for the LGBT community.
“Being a Boy Scout saved my life. I was a bookish, introverted kid, shy and withdrawn, unhappy and easily bullied. I was also gay, although I didn't know it yet. I should've been miserable. But being a scout got me out of myself and into the world.”
– Christopher Bram, from his op-ed piece, “My Life as a Gay Boy Scout” featured in the Advocate
The author of nine novels, countless articles and essays, and several screenplays, Christopher Bram is a critically acclaimed author who is continually praised for his ability to create “compelling characters who are engagingly human first, and only then straight or gay” (Publishers Weekly).
In this rare archival photo, a fourteen-year-old Christopher poses with his Boy Scout troop. Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, Bram excelled in the organization—when he was not walking his paperboy route—making it all the way up to Eagle Scout.
Similar to his own life, Bram’s debut novel, Surprising Myself, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Joel Scherzenlieb, who falls in love with fellow counselor Corey Cobbett over the course of a summer spent at a Boy Scout camp. What results is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
Mapping the Territory, a collection of Bram’s essays, is yet another example of Bram’s brilliance as a chronicler of the homosexual experience. Including the renowned piece, “Homage to Mr. Jimmy,” which recounts the chain of events that inspired the screenplay behind the Oscar-winning film Gods and Monsters. This collection of essays is the culmination of a life spent trying to understand the world he grew up in—from the AIDS epidemic, to gay marriage, to his own transcendent moment of coming out.
Bram was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2001, and in 2003, he received Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. He currently lives in Greenwich Village and teaches at New York University.
Interested in more Pride Month reads? Click here to explore Open Road Media Ebooks with Pride.
While we are all getting excited about summer vacation, many parents may worry about their children falling down the “summer slide,” a learning decline that occurs when kids are out of school for a long period of time. The learning loss is significant—about 22% of the whole academic year, according to the National Summer Learning Association—and can be difficult to make up. But parents need not curtail outdoor activities or summer fun in favor of grueling academic activities that will keep kids inside for hours: According to this nifty infographic detailing the perils of the summer slide, it only takes twenty minutes of reading a day to sustain current skills or even make tangible progress.
Find the perfect ebooks to keep your children engaged and learning this summer. Select titles, from picture books to young-adult reads, are now 60% off! Browse the collection atopenroadmedia.com/summerslide.
Although John Jakes is most recognized for his historical fiction, notably the Kent Family Chronicles and the North and South Trilogy, he is also skilled with science fiction. Aside from the Brak the Barbarian series, his novels On Wheelsand Six-Gun Planet are a twist on what he is most well known for. These historical-fiction novels are set in the future, but living in the past is far from ideal.
On Wheels examines biker culture, but in a deadlier future. The population has become so overrun that ten percent are forced to live on the road, in constant motion, without going below forty miles per hour. To disobey the laws of the road could mean the loss of one’s sanity, manhood, or even life. Of course, given the high stakes, the road isn’t the only worry these drivers have to contend with. The people of the road are divided into clans, and they are fighting for territory. Billy Spoiler finds himself at odds with Lee Ramp—both for control of the road and for the love of a woman. Those who appreciate biker culture, as well as fans of Easy Rider and Sons of Anarchy, will enjoy familiar content in a vastly different setting.
For Wild West enthusiasts, Six-Gun Planet imagines a new planet, Missouri, on which the population has rebooted to the Old West of the 1880s in an attempt to escape technology. Of course, there have been a few modifications to the past: Cowboys ride robotic horses and most of the inhabitants are paid to portray classic characters of the Old West. Despite the goal of leading a less contrived life, paid gunslinger Zak Randolf is disillusioned by the manufactured planet. When his objections to Missouri become widely known, he attracts the attention of outlaw gunslinger Buffalo Yung, and Randolf realizes Yung means to finish him off in a very real way.
If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you lived in simpler times, Jakes’s novels suggest that living in the past would not necessarily be so idyllic. Next time you find yourself longing to go back in time and live in a little house on the prairie, ask yourself whether you could really handle the past.
To learn more about John Jakes and his other titles, visit his author page here.
Recently Al Checchi was invited to speak at the University of Miami’s Cobb Leadership Lecture series. He shared the speech with Open Road Media and we have selected portions of the speech on leadership we believe are particularly relevant to today’s graduates.
Al Checchi in high school, 1966
“I believe we have a leadership crisis. It will be your great challenge to fill the vacuum and fix this mess because no matter how great our natural advantages, the world is changing and will leave us behind as it has every other great power unless we generate the leadership that helps us to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, acts in the best interest of all of us, and brings us together.”
He described leadership as “a form of alchemy” in which “you harness individual creativity, unleash the power of combined effort, and produce something greater than the sum of the parts.”
Checchi goes on to identify the qualities necessary in a leader:
Al Checchi, author of The Change Maker, former chairman of Northwest Airlines, principal at Bass Associates, and vice president of corporate development at Marriott, encourages graduates today to be leaders—a role he finds lacking throughout the public and private sectors in America.
Whether you prefer to expand your historical horizons by reading deeply researched and gripping nonfiction, or through powerful and unique fictionalized accounts, this compelling collection of ebooks promises to deliver.
“Gentlemen, do not be daunted if chaos reigns; it undoubtedly will.” So said Brigadier S. James Hill, commanding officer of the British 3rd Parachute Brigade, in an address to his troops shortly before the launching of Operation Overlord—the D-Day invasion of Normandy. No more prophetic words were ever spoken, for chaos indeed reigned on that day, and many more that followed.
Award-winning military historian Flint Whitlock has put together a unique package—the first history of the assault that concentrates exclusively on the activities of the American, British, and Canadian airborne forces that descended upon Normandy in the dark, pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944.
If Chaos Reignsis a fitting tribute to the men who rode the wind into battle and managed to pull victory out of confusion, chaos, and almost certain defeat.
Many professional historians have recorded the actions of D-Day but here is an account of the airborne actions as described by the actual men themselves, in eyewitness detail.
Participants range from division command personnel to regimental, battalion, company, and battery commanders, to chaplains, surgeons, enlisted medics, platoon sergeants, squad leaders and the rough, tough troopers who adapted quickly to fighting in mixed, unfamiliar groups after a badly scattered drop.
D-Day With The Screaming Eagles is primary source material. It is a “must read” for anyone interested in the Normandy landings, the 101st Airborne Division, and World War II in general. Hearing the soldiers speak is an entirely different experience from reading about the action in a narrative history.
After months living and fighting with the French Resistance, Fahrenwald was captured by the Wehrmacht, interrogated as a spy, and interned in a POW camp—and made a daring escape just before his deportation to Germany. Nothing diminished this pilot’s talent for spotting the ironic humor in even the most aggravating or dangerous situations—and nothing stopped his penchant for extracting his own improvised and sometimes hilarious version of justice.
Bailout Over Normandy is suspenseful WWII page-turner and an outrageously witty tale of daring and friendship, this book brings to vivid life the daily bravery, mischief, and intrigues of fighter pilots, Resistance fighters, and other Allies in the air and on the ground.
In one of Higgins' most highly-regarded novels, Night of the Fox, a British operative must race against the clock to secure Allied victory.
May1944, a shipwrecked American Colonel Hugh Kelso washes up on the shore of Nazi-occupied Jersey with a valuable secret. As one of the few men with knowledge of the impending invasion of Normandy, Kelso must be protected at all costs.
Enter Harry Martineau, a British operative charged with the dangerous mission of impersonating a Nazi officer to infiltrate Jersey and retrieve—or silence—Colonel Kelso. The stakes couldn’t be higher as the fate of the war hangs in the balance.
On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines in McCammon's The Wolf's Hour.
Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.