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Saturday, July 2, 2011

50 years ago today

I was 30, and it was my first term in graduate school. Outside, the air was hot and humid, the way it was supposed to be in September in the middle of Ohio. But I wasn't outside. I was in the office I shared with six other graduate student TAs, three of whom would turn Columbus into Paris for me over the next four years. I was the only one there. It was middle of the afternoon and everyone had taught and gone home or gone to the library, and I took advantage of the quiet to focus on the literature I was supposed to digest that quarter. I was sitting at my desk in the corner, my favorite novel of the 20th century open in front of me, reading the wonderful passage in which Jake is riding a bus to fish for trout in the Pyrenees for probably the fifth time in my life, and suddenly, I leaned back in my chair and thought, "For the rest of my life, they are going to pay me to do this."

"Oh, Jake," Brett said, "we could have had such a damn good time together."

Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.

"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so." (Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises)
It wasn't the right time or the right way for him to die. Ray Bradbury didn't think so either.

"Oh he had readers all right, all kinds of readers. Even me. I don't touch books from one autumn to the next. But I touched his. I think I liked the Michigan stories best. About the fishing. I think the stories about fishing are good. I don't think anybody ever wrote about fishing that way and maybe won't ever again. "
The hunter in "Kilimanjaro Machine" by Ray Bradbury
Read the story, then come back to see the video.

 "I waited one heartbeat, then reached over and opened the door."
"The Kilimanjaro Machine" Ray Bradury
Ernest Hemingway July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961.


  1. I read The Old man and the sea when I was a boy the story has remained the same but I have changed. Ah! Those sharks!

  2. Thank you for pointing out this day of remembrance. I was six years old at the time. I can remember my English teacher mother's shock at the news. I can remember growing up seeing The Old Man and the Sea, and The Sun Also Rises on our bookshelves at home. I think I was in the 9th grade when I took that slim volume of The Old Man and the Sea to read for one of my school assignments.

  3. I read The Sun Also Rises while in Spain. It added much richness to the experience!