Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Which I Share Just A Bit Much About My Writing Past

When I was a teenager, I, like most teenagers, took myself very seriously on several levels. During the summer, before I got jobs, I would decide that the season was a good one to devote myself to current events or learning something new. Or sometimes both. I followed the events of Tiananmen Square slavishly (and this was before the Web -- fortunately, the town I grew up in had a morning paper and an afternoon paper). One year, I fell in love with baseball. Another year, I read "The Adolescent," by Dostoyevsky. The summer of 1987, I let Peter Jennings walk me through the Iran-Contra hearings and I loved him ever since. That summer, I also wrote a sonnet in honor of the USS Stark, the first part of which I still remember by heart:

Remember, friend, the tale of the Stark,
Her crew cut down without a single shot.
O weep, America! And kindly mark,
their blood, upon your flag, an angry blot.

OK, I totally call a Twin Ports Cringe Fest! Who's with me?

Anyway, I wrote a lot of sonnets that summer, but that one was probably the worst.

This summer is my Vietnam journalism summer. I finished Once Upon a Distant War by William Prochnau a couple weeks ago and loved it. I'm now plowing through Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie and if I finish it by August I'll tackle the Pentagon Papers next. Some people like fluffy fiction during the summer; I like heavier stuff. But I think I'll pass on the sonnets this time around.


  1. Anonymous11:33 PM

    When you want a break from non-fiction, try "The Things They Carried" (if you haven't already read it.)

  2. I have, and I think "On the Rainy River" is one of the top 10 things I've ever read.

  3. Yay! I like heavy summer reading/learning, too! (Of course, with me being a teacher, it's just 'cause the summer is the only time my brain can handle anything heavier than, say, "Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You?" Mmmmm...Tim O'Brien...

    My summer project is writing a novel, but I think I'll keep the sonnets out of it, too. (I've written some doozies, but I've had the good sense to completely forget them!)

  4. I would love (is that the word?) a Cringe Fest!

  5. You just want to hear how the sonnet ends!

  6. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I agree with you about "On the Rainy River"

    Feel free to borrow any of the books on the bookcase on the south wall in the Duluth living room. Three that come to mind are
    The Best and the Brightest,
    Dispatches, and
    Fire in the Lake.