November will be bringing our library community both Veterans Day and NaNoWriMo. If you’ve thought of trying your hand at writing about the war experience, you’ll want to attend our workshop, “When Fiction Goes to War: Creating Characters in and after Combat.” Steve Watkins, award-winning local author and past instructor of journalism, creative writing, and Vietnam War literature at the University of Mary Washington, will lead this program for veterans, their family members, and anyone else who wants to hone their writing skills. To be held at Porter Branch, 2001 Parkway Boulevard, Stafford, November 11, 9:45-10:45 am, this program is part of our larger Writers Conference.
After the horrors of World War I and the resulting social trauma, young men and women who survived came to be known as The Lost Generation because they never recovered from all of their losses and suffering. To deal with their pain, many of them lived by the adage, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The Roaring Twenties, also known as the Jazz Age, was born.
Writing is a peculiar art. Some people seem to be born with a distinctive style and voice which comes effortlessly to them. Most of us, however, need to work hard to learn the fundamentals and are constantly seeking to improve our ability to craft sentences, create paragraphs, and organize a coherent series of ideas which make up a well-written book or article.
“The sharper your knife, the less you cry.”
Chefs dominate the cooking industry; the big ones have TV shows, cookbooks, their own magazines. Because of them, there are cooking shows for every taste and better produce in your local market. Here is a selection of notable memoirs; two of the authors uplifted home cooking in America.
But not ON the beach: pages oily from suntan lotion; wind and sand. Nah, bad for paper. Watching pelicans cruise over the waves is preferred. Knowing we would hit the Beach Book Mart, a bookshop in Atlantic Shores with an interesting historical selection, I packed two books. One of those plus two of the three store-bought titles had a thread: Italy.
First down the chute is Norman Douglas’ Siren Land, a memoir of Capri and the Sorrentine Peninsula. Two previously read authors, Paul Fussell and Elizabeth Davis, quoted and discussed Douglas, and the library owns the title. I found his prose dense, witty fairly often, even had a couple funny bits. It is more than a travelogue: it is learned and chatty. Emperor Tiberius was the first famous Roman to retire to Capri; his stay is touched on. Douglas includes stories of saints, a single thread of the story of these siren lands. History and biology of the sirens is knocked off in the first couple of chapters, followed by a wandering over the land, a boat ride or two, and an island full of fleas...with gossip, lore, architecture, history, and memorable characters.