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Essays of E.B. White
by E.B. White


 
To: ALL Date: 04/10 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 11:18 AM **********ESSAYS OF E.B. WHITE********** This one is coming down the pike toward us on the Slo-Mo list for discussion at some point in the near future, I understand. Since I bear some responsibility along with Ruth for the placement of it on the list, I thought I would try to generate a little motivation on the part of others to try it. We are of course talking non-fiction here. The genre is the personal essay, and White is an acknowledged American master of this form. I urge some of you who might otherwise bypass this one to give it a try. The beauty of this book is that you certainly need not read all of it. I found the essays at the beginning of the book to be far less satisfying than those toward the end, particularly in the section titled "Memories." (Richard, the piece called "The Years of Wonder" concerning his shipping out for Alaska in his youth is a delight.) The essay at the end of that section is perhaps his most famous, "Once More to the Lake." And if you've never read his tribute to Will Strunk that appears at the beginning of Strunk & White's ELEMENTS OF STYLE, you really out to try it. It is an inspiration for more careful and thoughtful writing. E.B. White is the easiest, most comfortable reading you will ever do. The writing is so apparently effortless, one gets in the rhythm of it very quickly, and the experience is much like a good conversation. Again, no need to read the whole thing. Do a healthy sampling when you get the chance. I look forward to discussing some of these pieces with a few of you. Steve 4/10/97 9:17AM CT =============== Reply 1 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/10 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 1:12 PM Dear Steve, Here I was coming onto the board with the purpose of putting up a note about WHITE and you've gone and done it. I have read about a third of these essays and they are wonderful. They're moving in ways that will surprise you. Let's start discussing this for real in about two weeks. Is that enough time? Or now, if we want. Sherry =============== Reply 6 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/11 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:09 PM Steve, I was pleased to see your post about the ESSAYS OF EB WHITE. I've been hoping that this bit of non-fiction wouldn't be an onion among the petunias. For those of you who will poke around and read hither and thither in this book, I second Steve's nomination of White's trip to Alaska (YEARS OF WONDER) and the poignant ONCE MORE TO THE LAKE. I'm also particularly fond of THE DEATH OF A PIG, which has been much anthologized. Other favorites of mine are THE EYE OF EDNA, THE GEESE (a love story) and the first essay in the book, a short one called GOODBYE TO 48TH STREET, which captures that strange mood of expectation and regret that we all go through when we move. FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, White's paean to the Model T should appeal to the car people amongst us. SAINT NICHOLAS LEAGUE has tidbits about famous writers who wrote as children's contributors to a well-known children's magazine. A SLIGHT SOUND OF EVENING is a meditation on Henry Thoreau. You'll find the subject of egg color covered in RIPOSTE. (I prefer brown over white, myself.) The circus, the South and segregation come together in THE RING OF TIME. Ruth, stopping before she names every essay in the book =============== Reply 16 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/19 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 0:08 AM To All, I am not quite sure how my posting fits in since it is not a response to any of the previous postings. I have given it a try to read as many as I had time to read, but you people are better typists, faster readers and mainly have more time for posting, probably by means of the bb off line manager that I heard so much about. I found White's writing skillful, intelligent and sometimes more and sometimes less interesting. I should say I enjoyed most of the essays, but the one that appealed to me the most are the one's named under the subtitles of Memories and Divsersions and Obsessions. The Years of Wonder truly stands out in my mind. I can well identify with the young man who leaves Seattle after his job folded to spend time on a ship, first class and stearage, so to speak. His fascination with being close to the guys that make the ship go, the fireman, stewarts, etc., I can understand as I identify with his curiosity about people and about life, raw as it is and undisguised. Another thing I liked about it was that he gave the reader the benefit of the notes made during his journey, though they are characteristically those of a young, inexperienced and somewhat pretensious person. I was truly struck and shocked reading The Sea and the Wind that Blows. So I am not the only one with the obsession for sailing. He describe the precise feelings that I experience when I sail, a compulsion I can not resist in spite of apprehension or even fear. Teaching myself most everything there is to know about sailing and preference for sailing on my own. Just these last couple of years I take my 13 year old grand daughter along as she enjoys sailing and after a turn on the tiller puts on the walkman and goes to sleep in the cabin. She does not bother me a bit. Sailors claim that it is not the person who seeks out the sea, but that the sea seeks out the person and with this I agree. Ernie =============== Reply 17 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/20 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 0:45 AM Steve, could not help myself but read the whole book and loved most of it. With you I found the memory part most interesting. I ended up liking the person (E.B. White) as much as his writing. As I wrote before, the obsession with sailing struck home, I am as obsessed with the same ambivalence as White, fear and love - what a combination! Ernie =============== Reply 18 of Note 45 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 04/20 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 1:27 AM Ernie: You took the words right out of my mouth -- the essays made me like E. B. White, the man. His sharp-edged, but still gentle humor, and that fierce, unerring eye for detail as he sat quietly (well, he claimed he was sitting quietly) on a farm in Maine. I didn't remember from previous White experiences what an environmental enthusiast he was -- damning the oil companies and their nefarious plots to bring refineries and tankers to the New England coast. It all had a tinge of 'not in my backyard' which usually annoys me, but which in this case, seemed quite alright, particularly given his age and that fact that he had an extra-nice yard. I was also struck by the comments so far on everyone's favorite essays -- White's young man's trip to Alaska has been mentioned several times. I can say that it's evident White really made the trip and captured the nuance of a working, sea-going vessel very well. However, he largely fails with the grandeur of Alaska, which is interesting, since he is so clearly the master of his Maine farmstead and the few square miles he inhabits. I worked as a seaman in those same waters when I was 18 and 19 and even as a native Alaskan was absolutely stunned at the beauty and scope of that wilderness coastline and a sea that was (then) so full of life and so empty of pollutants. I wonder if we humans aren't somewhat like cameras -- some of us are better at big, scenic shots, and others exell at portraits and minatures. No matter, I wouldn't change a word the man ever wrote -- what a gift he had and what a gift he gave. Dick in Alaska, a little ruffled that we weren't more ardently admired but otherwise pleased as punch =============== Reply 19 of Note 45 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 04/20 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:41 AM Ernie, I read the essay on sailing after seeing your note. How very interesting -- I had always assumed that people who sail, unlike me, have no fear of the ocean. Thanks for pointing me to this essay. I'm picking and choosing as the mood hits me. Right now my favorite is "The St. Nicholas League", about a children's magazine for aspiring young writers. Ann =============== Reply 20 of Note 45 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 04/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:11 PM Ann, when I was a kid I was given a bound volume of old St Nicholas League Magazines. I'd never heard of them and the mag had died long before. Now I wish I'd kept the book. I was too young, then, to have recognized any fledgling famous authors. This essay was fun for it's name-dropping aspect and a peek into the writing life of some later well-known writers, but it's not one of my favorites. The first essay in the book is one that resonates with me. That strange mixture of anticipation and regret that we go through as we prepare to move. And the way that belongings seem to attach themselves to us in a way that makes it in- creasingly difficult to vest ourselves of them. Both phenomena have some connection to our urge to nest, I'm thinking. Ruth, in California where it looks like the sun is going to come out =============== Reply 21 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/20 From: TDVK46B M LUTTENEGGER Time: 3:51 PM Have started on page 1 of Essays and find it such an enjoyable book. I'm reading it from front to back (as opposed to picking and choosing and skippig around), anxious to read the parts so many of you have found especially interesting. White is so readable and so seemingly effortless in his writing. I'm finding myself so much more in tune with everything around me this weekend, as I enjoy E.B and the glorious Colorado mountains...mel, ensconced on a lake that Mr. White would be able to describe deliciously =============== Reply 22 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 4:47 PM Make that DIvest. R. =============== Reply 23 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/20 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 8:40 PM I started reading this one from front to back but found the style of the first ones getting a little repetitive. Even though I liked them, my mind was wandering. Then, I reread Steve's note, in which he said that he liked the later ones a bit more than the earlier ones....so, now, I'm skipping around. And, have found that I agree with him. However, one of my favorite lines from the book thus far is in the first essay, "Good-bye to Forty-Eighth Street", that Ruth mentioned. He notes that the typical New Yorker moves a lot looking for the perfect place..."And, in every place he abandons he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new life somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed its skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable." Isn't that a compelling image?!? Also, I notice this theme in many of his essays, this attempt to clean out all the "stuff" that's accumulating in his life. And, is ELEMENTS OF STYLE still available? His essay on Will Strunk makes me want to check at the bookstore...for myself and my sons. Barb =============== Reply 24 of Note 45 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 04/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 9:03 PM Absolutely ELEMENTS OF STYLE is available. It's the Bible of many freshman English courses. Ruth, who gave a copy to each of her kids in high school =============== Reply 25 of Note 45 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 04/21 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 9:52 AM Barb, I can't quite put my finger on the reason I preferred the last essays in this book over the the first ones. It is true though. I think the fact that there is a sampling of something from every point in his career has a little to do with this, in the sense that we ourselves may prefer different ones at different points in our lives. And the grouping in this book just happened to come out in a way that at my stage of the game, I liked the last ones. Certainly, as Ruth has said, ELEMENTS OF STYLE is quite available. MacMillan. Cost you about six bucks plus tax. If one has any hope of interesting young people in the use of the English language, this is the way to go. It is TINY. Not an imposing book at all. But you will love reading it, I think. "Farewell, My Lovely" may be one of the great tributes to a mechanical thing, in this case the Model T. I am old enough to have known some folks who spoke with this sort of reverence for that car. I would have to say that another of my favorites is the piece on Thoreau and WALDEN. It is a great review of the work, even unto pointing out Thoreau's preachiness. Kinda has me worked up to revisit that one after many, many years. Personally, I really like the Foreward where he talks about the nature of essay writing. Nice piece. (We are just throwing out our general likes and dislikes right now, I hope. When Sherry drops the green flag in another week or so, I look forward to getting down to the nitty-gritty on some of these.) However, a different foreward would have been more appropriate. Divina has provided me with a tribute to White written in 1938 by his friend and colleague, James Thurber. At a little less than eight pages, it ought to have been the Forward to this book, although I am sure White's modesty precluded that. It concludes with this paragraph: "Some years ago White bought a farm in Maine and he now lives there the year around with his wife, who was Katharine Angell [his first editor at THE NEW YORKER]. He spends most of his time delousing turkeys, gathering bantam eggs, building mice-proof closets, and ripping out old fireplaces and putting in new ones. There is in him not a little of the spirit of Thoreau, who believed 'that the world crowds round the individual, leaving him no vista, and shuts out the beauty of the earth; and that the wholesome wants of man are few.' Now and then, between sunup and milking time, Andy White manages to do a casual or a poem for THE NEW YORKER, or write a book. Many of the things he writes seem to me as lovely as a tree--say a maple after the first frost, or the cherry hung with snow. What he will go on to do I have no idea. If he simply continues to do what he has always done, it will be all right with me." Steve 4/21/97 8:45AM CT =============== Reply 26 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/21 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 3:30 PM Dear Steve and all, I see no reason whatsever not to drop the green flag NOW. You all seem to be far enough along on the Essays to start in on them. Ready....set.....GO. Sherry =============== Reply 27 of Note 45 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 04/21 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 3:45 PM Sherry: I think my favorites may have been the essays about the farmhouse kitchen and the one about the death of the goose and the fate of the old gander. From my frozen vantage point, those gentle and poignant stories about life on a farm were downright exotic. Dick in Alaska, where the thought of something growing, other than in his refrigerator dishes, is enticing =============== Reply 28 of Note 45 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 04/21 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:43 PM Sherry and all, I have read about 100 pages of this book and am thoroughly enjoying each essay as I go. His view of New England makes me nostalgic for the old days in Indiana. My father and aunts talk about life on the farm every time they get together. I also love EBW's gentle sense of humor. Some of his phrases reminded me of a certain gentleman who lives in Alaska. Are you listening, Sir R? It is interesting that the word "essai" in French means a trial or a testing of something. It can also mean a sample. Perhaps, it meant all three to EBW. I will post more when I finish. Jane in brisk and breezy Colorado. =============== Reply 29 of Note 45 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 04/22 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 0:28 AM I'm just getting into this, though it's lighter than most of my lunchtime reading. The description of the highway in "Home-Coming" made me think about how those highways have changed in so comparatively few years. I went down Murfreesboro Road the other day to avoid a jam on the freeway - the way we always went when we took Daddy to work so we could keep the car. There were busy motels along it - those now remaining are generally hot bunks. A beautiful white frame house with turrets stood on a hill, with an old fashioned springhouse about halfway down. That's now the interstate changeover. One building I remember has remained much the same, though without the sign that puzzled me when I was a kid. It said "Chinchillas Yes, Chihuahuas No" - what the devil a chinchilla trader was doing on Murfreesboro Road I don't know. Anyway, I asked Mama about the sign, and she rather embarrassedly explained that people were calling and asking for chihuahuas when they really wanted something else - enterprising prostitution ring we had here! Anyway, White's great for rousing and stretching gentle nostalgia. Cathy =============== Reply 30 of Note 45 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 04/22 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 0:37 AM Cathy - what the heck are "hot bunks"? Do they have anything to do with chinchillas/chihuahuas? And what is the connection between those animals and prostitution? (If the answer is really graphic, go right ahead and e-mail me.) Theresa =============== Reply 31 of Note 45 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 04/22 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:46 AM Don't you dare e-mail Theresa you answer Cathy. I want to read it to. Ruth, curiouser and curiouser =============== Reply 32 of Note 45 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 04/22 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 9:09 AM You're correct, Catherine, it is light reading. Yet, such a pleasure for me. I love the tone of these. White doesn't take himself too seriously, while at the same time doesn't play the role of the boob. As I recall, his wife, Katherine, is the mother of my favorite baseball writer, Roger Angell, who appears in THE NEW YORKER regularly--and not always on the subject of baseball. I think he was a child of her previous marriage, however, if I remember correctly. (What's the deal there, Sara? Are you finished with that massive paper yet?) Catherine, I have a request. Would you make sure that your Daddy reads that essay on the Model T, "Farewell, My Lovely?" And then would you ask him to write down his impressions of it and post them here? I know you're busy, busy. Well, actually, I owe them a letter. I will write them today and ask him myself. Will you renew the book and lend it to him when you're done? I know your Mama would love that essay about Forebush and his birds, too. Steve 4/22/97 7:15AM CT =============== Reply 33 of Note 45 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 04/22 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:50 AM Theresa: 'Hot bunking' is (at least) a Navy term referencing the fact that the large size of naval crews at one time exceeded the number of bunks available, particularly on small vessels and submarines and crewmembers shared bunks, with one sleeping while the other was on watch. Hence, you were always getting into 'a hot bunk'. Now how that relates to chihuahuas/chinchillas and prostitution on the Murfreesboro Road, I'm at an utter loss. Dick in Alaska, ready to provide instruction on the 'Navy shower' as well =============== Reply 34 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/22 From: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Time: 6:19 PM Steve, here's the deal as I understand it: Katharine Angell had two young children, Roger & Nancy, and a husband, when she met and fell in love with White at the New Yorker. After sorting out the usual mess this kind of situation creates, and the required three months in Reno, she and White were married. What I always heard was that they were tremendously fond of each other. Together they had one son, Joel. Any readers of White's STUART LITTLE out there? As a child this book actually had me pretty convinced I might some day risk giving birth to a mouse. A true nightmare book. -Sara =============== Reply 35 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/22 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 7:27 PM Divina: Is this Roger Angell, as in the baseball writer? CBJ =============== Reply 36 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/22 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 8:30 PM From everything I've read the marriage of EB & Katherine was an exceedingly happy one. Never read STUART LITTLE, but CHARLOTTE'S WEB made me cry as an adult. Actually, CW is responsible for my son's quantum leap into the literate reading public. The summer he after finished the first grade I started to read it to him. He loved it so much that he took it to bed with him. The next morning he didn't come out of his bedroom until very late, whereupon he emerged and announced, "I finished it". From then on he was hooked. Three cheers for ol EB. Ruth, in sun and 85 degrees =============== Reply 37 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/22 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 8:36 PM Sara, Oh yes, I was a devoted fan of Stuart Little, and liked to imagine myself sailing on the Central Park lake in a little sailboat. Being a mouse seemed an excellent idea, much better than being a boring little boy. Regards from the mountain, Felix Miller =============== Reply 38 of Note 45 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 04/22 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 8:37 PM Oh wonderful, something I know! "Hot bunk" I believe is a variation on the "hot pillow" description of motels where the beds were in use for short periods of time, probably a derivation of Dick's naval bunks. But thus the connection with prostitution, hot pillows and clean towels for rent, along with the main attraction. Hinting around, on the mountain, Felix Miller =============== Reply 39 of Note 45 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 04/22 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:01 PM Felix, you do surprise me. Knowledge of 'hot bunks' (solely in the naval context, of course) is a manly, moral kind of information. This 'hot pillow' concept, on the other hand, seems distinctly questionable. Perhaps we could construct an argument that the moral strength of civilization along the coastline (i.e. nearer the navy) is stronger than in the morally tepid interior (nearer the hearts of darkness, perhaps?) I guess, it does seem pretty flimsy; however, good dissertation topics are terribly scarce these days, and I keep trying to think of Marty's future. Dick in Alaska, lucky to have a pillow at all =============== Reply 40 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/22 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 11:08 PM Sara, Chalk me up as a Stuart Little fan -- though I never found it scary. I always thought it would be cool to be one of those little creatures.... And I'm a *big* fan of Elements of Style -- it's the only one I've kept from college. My favorite piece of advice: "Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn't mean you have you use it." Peggy, still waiting for ESSAYS from the library -- but THREE COFFINS is in =============== Reply 41 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/23 From: KXBZ24A ANNE WILFONG Time: 10:19 AM Ruth, CHARLOTTE'S WEB was my launching pad into reading at the age of 5 or 6. I recently reread it and also cried. What adults can learn from these "children's" books...they're for us all along, aren't they? Anne =============== Reply 42 of Note 45 =================  
To: KXBZ24A ANNE WILFONG Date: 04/23 From: TDVK46B M LUTTENEGGER Time: 12:20 PM as someone noted earlier in this chat...you may start out reading from front to back (as I did) but skipping around has its merits. got hung up on EBW's 'preaching' in his essays on the bomb, the war...decided to skip ahead and now am back on track...his essay (and thank you Jane for translating the french meaning of essay, always interesting) entitled 'bedfellows' (I think, don't have my copy on hand) was a grat story about his dog, maybe it's having two funny pups of my own that made it such a winner for me. Mel, a huge fan of Charlott's Wed, Elements, and Stuart... =============== Reply 43 of Note 45 =================  
To: TDVK46B M LUTTENEGGER Date: 04/23 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:36 PM Mel, I tired of those "preachifying" political essays, too. And felt guilty for doing so. After all, here was just about my favorite writer, talking about important issues from a viewpoint that I mostly agreed with. It was my duty to like this stuff. But I was bored. It's in the details of everyday life that White shines, I think. And the ability to make the details of his life connect to the details of our lives, and all of this connect to the great scheme of things. Ruth, too old to have read Charlotte's Web as a child =============== Reply 44 of Note 45 =================  
To: TDVK46B M LUTTENEGGER Date: 04/23 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 12:43 PM Mel, continuing with an afterthought. It was William Carlos Williams I believe, who said "No ideas but in things." White's homey essays are full of the things of everyday life and the ideas come in willy-nilly. The political essays are full of ideas, without the personal and the concrete to tie them to. I'm glad you brought this up and made me think about my own reactions And I'm perfectly aware that in the first paragraph I ended a sentence with a preposition. It sounds stilted if I write it correctly. Even White himself, co-author of the revered Elements of Style, condoned an occasional prepositional ending, quoting the remark of his young son as White arrived to read the ritual bedtime story, "What did you bring that book I didn't want to be read to from out of up for? Six preps, count 'em. Ruth, on a beautiful southern California day, headed for the 90's =============== Reply 45 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/23 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:52 PM Ruth and mel, I agree about the bomb essays. I kept thinking that I should appreciate them more, but they brought back some scary moments from my childhood. Most of you will remember when neighbors were building bomb shelters and stocking them with provisions. I love the every day essays, just as you do. I am in the middle of the one about NYC. You can really get the feel of those neighborhoods. R., I loved you phrase with all of the prepositions! Jane in breezy Colorado. =============== Reply 46 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/24 From: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Time: 0:45 AM CBJ/Shaman: Yep, this is the same Roger Angell, as in the baseball writer. (Don't you read EVERY WORD the Wild Man writes?? Ha!) -Sara =============== Reply 47 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/24 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 11:55 AM I finished Whites ESSAYS yesterday and agree with most of you. His observations about home and animals and human foibles hold up much better than his essays on politics. I think that's the key. Politics is changeable and ages about as well as lettuce in a crisper. Human foibles are universal and hold meaning for us whether they are described by Shakespeare or by Dave Barry. I thought his Christmas in Florida piece "What Do Our Hearts Treasure?" was particularly moving. Maybe it made an impression on me because my Christmases have gone through many changes--once I was a child surprised, then I surprised a child, and now I surprise no children and have very few surprises myself. When the fir branch arrived and it felt like Christmas, I knew just what he meant. I also cried when the pig died. I couldn't wait for the hurricane to come. I wanted to see his coon come down the tree. And I wanted to say to him that my senior English teacher's two favorite phrases were "Simplify, simplify, simplify" and "Delete to strengthen." Sherry in Milwaukee =============== Reply 48 of Note 45 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 04/24 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 7:05 PM Sherry & All: The essay in COLLECTED E.B. WHITE that took the top of my head off (passionate readers know what I mean...) when I first read it, and continues to do so on re-reading, is a very short one called "The Ring of Time," about visiting the summer quarters of a circus in Florida. Within the essay's small frame, I think White ambitiously takes on some of the same ideas Virginia Woolf does in TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: the realization of our mortality, and the elastic ways in which humans experience the passage of time. He notes that the young girl doing acrobatics on the horse "is at that enviable moment in life when she believes she can go once around the ring, make one complete circuit, and at the end be exactly the same age as at the start... The girl wasn't so young that she did not know the delicious satisfaction of haing a perfectly behaved body and the fun of using it to do a trick most people can't do, but she was too young to know that time does not really move in a circle at all. "I thought, 'She will never be as beautiful as this again,'--a thought that made me acutely unhappy--and in a flash my mind (which is too much of a busybody to suit me) had projected her twenty-five years ahead, and she was now in the center of the ring, on foot, wearing a conical hat and high-heeled shoes, the image of the older woman holding the long rein, caught in the treadmill of an afternoon long in the future." Many, many other memorable lines in this piece, I think. As hard as it hit me when I first read it, it continues to resonate even more as mortality lines up its players against mine each day with an increasingly formidable defense... Dale, caught in the treadmill of an afternoon in Ala., enjoying the White thread (white thread...get it? :) =============== Reply 49 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/24 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 8:50 PM Ruth, I like your term preachifying. Never heard it before but have been preached to by many. I also agreed with White's political views and was equally bored by them. I kept on wondering why I enjoyed the non-poltical stuff, based on his observations and experiences. He came alive so to speak. It is not at all surprising that he had a fine marriage. Look at the type of guy he was, a fine, gentle, observing person and yes there is an element of love when he describes lakes, coons, etc. Ernie =============== Reply 50 of Note 45 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 04/24 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 10:28 PM Steve, so noted. Felix, you're right about the hot bunks. I learned it in the course of business; our engineers had to inspect some to see they didn't get TOO hot at the wrong times. (There was one embarrassing case of a couple who got out of a fire without their clothes.) Our auditors told us some of these places were leasing each room at least three or so times a day. Some of the outlying towns have a standard rate of $50 for four hours. Even down here, we've gotten a little more sophisticated than asking the cab driver where to find a chihuahua, but that was the standard procedure at one time - phone up for a chihuahua. Now I'm grown, the chinchilla business in the smallish brick building (still there) at the edge of the motor court (now converted, I think) seems a little fishy, but it was probably another kind of scam they had going. Sara, honestly the first thing I thought about the idea of accidentally giving birth to a mouse was "It would be so much cheaper!!!" Of course, I've never understood why the nurse became frightened and dropped the infant Pan so that Mercury had to snatch him up. I think a baby Pan would be cute. You wouldn't know whether to diaper it or give it a litter pan (awk!!), but I can't see being scared of it. I'm somewhat farther along with the White, and I have noted in political matters and even in matters of technology how dated it is. All in all, it reflects a gentler world, though it didn't seem so gentle when I lived in it. Compare his radio announcers with today's television antics!! I liked the bits about the coons, too and can add authoritatively that a coon will peacefully amble off if slapped on the nose by a quite small feline kitten. Cathy =============== Reply 51 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/25 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 10:29 AM I couldn't agree more with you about the essay "Ring of Time," Dale. There are two masterpieces in there (I am at my office desk and don't have the book immediately available). "Ring of Time" is one of them. The other one, in my estimation, is "Once More to the Lake." And in both cases mortality is the theme. It is ironic, I think, that to the extent that E.B. White makes it into English and literature courses in educational institutions, it is with one or both of these. Yet, how can a young person possibly hope to appreciate the real depth of either? A certain age is required to get the full effect of them. It is not necessarily an entirely pleasant effect either, but his meaning and his state of mind comes through to us as if we are directly wired into his head. The commonality of human experience is an interesting, interesting thing, most particularly when someone like E.B. White has the ability to exploit it with language. Steve 4/25/97 9:21AM CT =============== Reply 52 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/25 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 4:03 PM Steve: Goodness, I'd forgotten what a gorgeous piece of work White's "Once More to the Lake" is, until rereading it just now upon your mention. Down to the beautiful and terrifying last line, that grips me...well, exactly in the place that line's talking about. So many great descriptions along the way, like the "school of minnows that swam by, each minnow with its small individual shadow, doubling the attendance, so clear and sharp in the sunlight." And how many writers could turn out a paragraph like this one, seemingly without breaking a sweat: *** We went fishing the first morning. I felt the same damp moss covering the worms in the bait can, and saw the dragonfly alight on the tip of my rod as it hovered a few inches from the surface of the water. It was the arrival of this fly that convinced me beyond any doubt that everything was as it always had been, that the years were a mirage and that there had been no years. The small waves were the same, chucking the rowboat under the chin as we fished at anchor, and the boat was the same boat, the same color green and the ribs broken in the same places, and under the floorboards the same fresh-water leavings and debris--the dead helgramite, the wisps of moss, the rusty discarded fishook, the dried blood from yesterday's catch. We stared silently at the tips of our rods, at the dragonflies that came and went. I lowered the tip of mine into the water, tentatively, pensively dislodging the fly, which darted two feet away, poised, darted two feet back, and came to rest again a little farther up the rod. There had been no years between the ducking of this dragonfly and the other one--the one that was part of memory. I looked at the boy, who was silently watching his fly, and it was my hands that held his rod, my eyes watching. I felt dizzy and didn't know which rod I was at the end of... *** I agree with whatever reviewer at the Washington Post says on the jacket of my copy, "Some of the finest examples of contemporary, genuine American prose. White's style incorporates eloquence without affectation, profundity without pomposity, and wit without frivolity or hostility. Like his predecessors Thoreau and Twain, White's creative, humane and graceful perceptions are an education for the sensibilities." A worthy goal, I think. Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 53 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/25 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 4:04 PM Divina: Never doubt that I have each word the Consigliere has posted here engraved on the tablets of my heart, especially his words of wisdom regarding the fairer sex. It's the tablets of my *brain* where things get a little sketchy, though, so I hope you'll pardon an occasional lapse. But the big question remains: Who's the better baseball writer, Roger Angell or Roger Kahn? I've flipflopped on this over the years, but mostly have converted to Kahn, I think. Opinions, anybody? CBJ, putting iodine on his heart engravings =============== Reply 54 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/25 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 4:10 PM Dale, All that portion needs are line breaks and it would be poetry. Oops, better not get started. Sherry =============== Reply 55 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/25 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:22 PM Dale, that paragraph you quoted is so beautiful. Clean, and clear as the water he writes of. I said this earlier in this thread, but it's a good example of William Carlos Williams said, "No ideas but in things." That whole paragraph is a graceful, gliding description of things, the water, the boat, the minnows, etc. Then all he does is sprinkle on a little salt of human understanding... Jeeze, he makes writing seem so simple, like a Matisse drawing with a few elegant lines. Ruth =============== Reply 56 of Note 45 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 04/25 From: QFKA95A HELEN FINNIGAN Time: 7:35 PM "Delete to strengthen" -- what perfectly worded advice. Who was it who said, "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter?" =============== Reply 57 of Note 45 =================  
To: QFKA95A HELEN FINNIGAN Date: 04/25 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:22 PM "Delete to strengthen" was the warcry of Ms. Emily Reminschneider, my blue-haired tiny, mean as a cuss 12th grade English teacher. Do they make that kind any more? Sherry =============== Reply 58 of Note 45 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 04/25 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 8:37 PM They didn't make that kind at Canoga Park HS in the early fifties. My 12th grade English teacher was evidently bowled over his bootsies by finding someone (me) who could use sixty-dollar words and complicated sentences. That profuse flowering of syntax and gobbledeeism I wrote didn't get chopped off at the ankles until I got to college. Ruth, in California, gloriously sunny, warm and windless (the weather, that is) =============== Reply 59 of Note 45 =================  
To: KWWP63A SARA SAUERS Date: 04/26 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:12 AM Sara, your description of STUART LITTLE mirrors the reaction I had to the story, many years ago. Though I've never read the book, when I was ten or thereabouts I saw part of a televised live-action dramatization (I recall a race of model sailboats in Central Park), and I distinctly remember finding the rather bizarre premise to be more than a little disquieting. (Considering how small a newborn mouse is, you have to wonder how that poor woman even knew she was pregnant. On the plus side, she must have had a fairly easy time of it in labor.) I wish I could put my hand on the column I read in a newspaper or magazine a few years ago, in which the author imagined Stuart's human siblings reacting to the miraculous event: "Gee, I dunno....it looks kind of like a rat." Just wanted you to know you weren't the only one weirded out by the idea! Allen =============== Reply 60 of Note 45 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 04/26 From: VRCH78A ALLEN CROCKER Time: 0:13 AM Like many of you here, I also had mixed reactions to the ESSAYS OF E.B. WHITE. Do you suppose that the essays in the section "The Planet" have aged so poorly because they deal largely with dead issues, or is it just that this kind of writing wasn't EBW's strong suit. (I suspect it's mostly a case of the former exacerbated by the latter.) Unlike most of you, I felt the pieces centered on his place in Maine to be, on the whole, quite tedious, for reasons I could go into in some detail but which I'll let pass. Suffice it to say that it seemed to me that the essays in "The Farm" had about as much to do with life in New England as a Norman Rockwell painting ever had to do with life in the United States. In general, I found that when he's dealing with a sub- ject with some intrinsic interest for me, he can hold my attention, and when he isn't, he can't. My favorite of all the essays was "The Years of Wonder", just for the story it tells; the gritty details he supplies of his time as a mess boy among the ship's fireman were quite a refeshing contrast to his droning on about raccoons and geese. "Once More to the Lake" is another high point, partly for some very similar memories of my own it brings back. It contains my favorite moment of the book, where EBW has that epiphany where he suddenly sees himself as his own father and as himself at his son's age. This must be something countless parents have experienced, but I've never seen it captured so delicately and tellingly as White does here. The most delightful surprise was the last essay in the book, "Dr. Forbush's Friends." I was amazed to find this piece about BIRDS OF MASSACHUSETTS, which I've been meaning to use as the basis for a thread for a couple of years (sic) now. White does a better job of encapsulating the qualities of Edward Howe Forbush's magnum opus than I ever could, but since I only intended to use Forbush as a bridge to something else anyway, I've posted that long-delayed note by itself under heading UNEXPECTED PLEASURES IN READING. Overall, I guess my reaction was about 75% positive -- not so much that much that I'm immediately going to be looking for more of White's work, but enough to convince me that he's worth further attention at some later date. Many thanks, therefore, to Ruth for commending this collection to our attention. Allen =============== Reply 61 of Note 45 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 04/26 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 0:17 AM I'll get some more scoop on the Model T's later; Daddy was remembering the little wire and ring device that allowed you to choke the thing while you were cranking. Larry recently reminded me of the family Model A story, though, which is worth a tell. In the spring of 1939, the Isaac Litton junior/senior picnic was at a state park in nearby Clarksville, accessible by tolerably dangerous 2 lane highway. On such occasions, Mama usually drove her family's Model A, but she was double dating with Daddy and HIS girlfriend and riding with them in his 60 hp '38 Ford. To allow my aunt to go, their father kindly allowed her date, a longtime family friend, to drive the Model A. Each car had two couples. Naturally, the two cars wound up racing. Daddy was extremely irritated at his father's choice of vehicle, reputed in the vernacular to be unable to drag a certain limp organ out of the mud. He couldn't do more than 70 on the straight, and the Model A was beating him. My aunt's date had actually pulled out to pass when a car appeared from the other direction. Daddy immediately fell back, expecting to have to pick kids up off the road. Young O'Mara kept his head, though, after a fashion. He took that Model A THROUGH A CORNFIELD, apparently at about 70 mph. This really blew my mind. That would tear the undercarriage out of most vehicles, but apparently the Model A suffered no damage my grandfather could see. I don't imagine either grandfather ever learned the truth about that race - certainly I hope not. Cathy =============== Reply 62 of Note 45 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 04/26 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:20 AM Cathy, my parents drove a Model A until 1950. I'm sure it couldn't have gone 70 miles an hour to save its little tin heart. That must have been some souped up job in your story. Ruth, with fond memories of that ah-ooooooga =============== Reply 63 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/26 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 10:24 AM Roger Kahn or Roger Angell, Dale? This is a dead heat if there ever was one. As I mentioned here long ago, I really do believe THE BOYS OF SUMMER, Kahn's book about the old Brooklyn Dodgers is a masterpiece. On the other hand its been a long time since I missed one of Angell's baseball articles in THE NEW YORKER. These are periodically collected in anthologies and published in book form, as I'm sure you know. There was one particular piece that sticks in my mind. I think it is in the anthology titled THE LONG SEASON, or something like that (it's at the farm). It is an article about a Pittsburg Pirate pitcher of some reknown, whose name escapes me. Perhaps Allen will recognize who I am talking about. In any event this pitcher suddenly and inexplicably lost his control--and I mean really lost his control. Here was a pitcher who had made it to the big leagues with a reputation for perfect control of his pitches, and all of the sudden he was throwing them ten feet over the catcher's head and into the screen--routinely. Bizarre. Never regained his control, and was quite soon out of baseball. Angell did a brilliant article on this sad phenomenon. He had interviewed this pitcher, his coaches, his friends, his family--everyone close to him, all of whom were heartbroken and frustrated and mystified as to what happened. It was a brilliant article, a psychological piece pondering the cruelty of the fates. And all in the context of baseball. Both George Will and David Halberstam (THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST) write some pretty mean baseball stuff, but they are not in the same league and Kahn and Angell. Steve 4/26/97 9:22AM CT =============== Reply 64 of Note 45 =================  
To: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Date: 04/26 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 10:37 AM That pitcher's name was Steve Blass, who in 1972 pitched 250 innings, won 19 and lost 8 with a 2.49 ERA. In 1971 he had pitched 240 innings, won 15 and lost 8 with a 2.85 ERA. Then in 1973 he pitched 89 innings, won 3 and lost 9 with a 9.85 ERA. In 1974 he appea============== Note 4 five innings that resulted in an ERA of 9.00--and was gone forever. Steve 4/26/97 9:39AM CT =============== Reply 65 of Note 45 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 04/26 From: SEZG73A STEVE WARBASSE Time: 9:56 PM In rereading my earlier note, Dale, it occurred to me that I should make clear that THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST is not a baseball book. Steve 4/26/97 8:55PM CT

 

 

E.B. White

 
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