Friday, November 17, 2017

Review of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die



I won 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die (Black Dog and Leventhal) as a door prize in an online writer’s chatroom when author Loren Rhoads was a guest during Horror Month. I expected a breezy romp through grave sites of noted horror authors, famous murderers and their victims, and creepy cemeteries known for their ghosts and eerie happenings. What I received is an exquisitely executed travel guide that explores the beautiful and often strange ways we choose to honor our dead and preserve our history.

In a style that informs without being dry, Rhoads takes us on a respectful tour of monuments to the dead around the globe. Many are historic sites; others are poignant tributes to loved ones. Even famous tombs like the Great Pyramids and the Taj Mahal get a fresh look. From the ancient Kerameikos cemetery in Athens and the rock-cut tombs of Jordan to the Bob Marley mausoleum in Jamaica and the National Aids Memorial in California, each fascinating entry is meticulously researched and accompanied by a high-quality color photograph that makes you want to hop in the car or book a plane ticket and go.

This lovely book is one to keep on your coffee table.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Writers on Writing




Mark Twain had three rules for writing. The first was “Write,” the second was “Write,” and the third was “Write.” Here are some more of my favorite quotes about the craft:

There are three rules for the writing of a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.—W. Somerset Maugham

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.—Thomas Jefferson

The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.—Blaise Pascal

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words when short are best of all.—Winston Churchill

You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hard writing makes easy reading.—Wallace Stegner

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.—Flannery O'Connor

The wastepaper basket is the writer's best friend.—Isaac Bashevis Singer

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.—Truman Capote

Don’t try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough.—Arthur Freed

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Remembering Eoin


Our son Eoin died at 16, and this week marks the 25th anniversary of his passing.

It began like any other day…

But no one wants to hear about this, unless there are lessons to be learned after 25 years. Are there any? I learned a new respect for fate--how arbitrary was it, to take the life of someone of such promise? Eoin was fifth in his sophomore class, always an honor student, spelling, math, and geography champion, recruited by West Point in the eighth grade, appeared in two movies, traveled a bit, already an established writer--I could go on and on. What could possibly be gained by cutting short such a life? I have learned I must be content with never knowing the answer to that.

We were close--all three of us--and I imagine we still would be. Skyping weekly, at least, if we didn’t live near each other. He could be in another part of the world on a movie set, or working in a physics lab, or just being a husband and father. One of the good guys.

Our last days with Eoin were good ones. We were proud parents at an honors dinner at school the week before, where he was awarded an academic letter jacket. For the Memorial Day weekend we cooked up a holiday feast, grilling chicken and turkey hot dogs and burgers, steaming corn, whipping up salads. Eoin deveined shrimp for appetizers and helped man the grill. He was looking forward to another summer at home, free from the pressures of a rigorous curriculum. For the summer of ’93, he planned to participate in an academic program in either France or Japan, he wasn’t certain yet…

We were so proud of the fine young man he’d become. I like to think of him now as having adventures journeying through time and space, occasionally looking in on the old folks. We miss you, buddy. Stop by any time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Quotes for Presidents' Day

History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.--Thomas Jefferson

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.--Theodore Roosevelt

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.--Woodrow Wilson

If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.--Calvin Coolidge

To reach a port, we must sail--sail, not tie at anchor--sail, not drift.--Franklin D. Roosevelt

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.--Harry Truman

Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.--John F. Kennedy

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.--William J. Clinton

And...
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.--Clarence Darrow