Gary W. Daily
Indiana State University
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245 S. 21st Street
Terre Haute, IN 47803
Women's Studies Program
Dreiser Hall 243
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN 47809
Teaching/Research InterestsAfrican American History
Women in the United States
History of the South
Hollywood Movies and American History
Public and Applied History
Current ProjectsIda Husted Harper--Feminist and Journalist
Who Owns History?--The Past in Public Life
Crossroads of America Reading Society and Dancing Machine [CARSDM]Origins and Operations
Book Selection Process
Members (Auto)-bios and Commentary
CURRENT AND HONORARY MEMBER ROSTER
Past selections1983 (First Year)Quiz (under construction)
1998--(Last Two Years +)
- African American History
The link below will take you to sources and web pages concentrating on, but not limited to, "Jefferson and Hemings and the Historians."
Try the Encyclopedia Britanica's Black History web site. It contains a great time line, reams (virtual, of course) of info, and many valuable links.
- Women in the United States
The PBS/Ken Burns TV bio of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony was a valuable and necessary introduction but, in my opinion, flawed in conception and too limited in scope. The web site created to supplement this program makes up for some of these failings.
The resources compiled by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin of SUNY--Binghamton on "Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930," are extensive and excellent.
- History of the South
Many of the African American sites above also include valuable information on the South's history. But seeing as everyone should experience the ambiance and hospitality of Oxford, Mississippi, try this (and don't miss the Living Blues link while you're visiting).
I quote here part of the "Purpose" statement in the introduction to the Dixienet site which follows. If your interested in the Confederate Flag issue, here's a site to inform and possibly alarm you.
"The timeless credo of the contemporary Southern nationalist..."
"I give my loyal and enthusiastic adherence to the present; with all its fresh and
glorious possibilities; but I shall never forget that it is to the Old South that the
New South owes all that is best and noblest in its being."
- Thomas Nelson Page, 1892
- Hollywood Movies and American History
Public and Applied History
Here is the creme de la creme of movie web sites. Connecting the information on this site to American history in ways which yield an understanding of the past is a much more difficult task. But don't let that deter you, everyone is trying to do it.
A field of study, a habit of mind, a way of life . . . Here's the link to the organization that oversees all of these good things.
My work on Harper has focused on the Terre Haute years, the sharp and humorous style of her newspaper columns, and the brand of feminism which informed her life and professional career during these years. Harper was on the tier of significance just below that of the giants of the time: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida Wells-Barnett, Carrie Chapman Catt. She deserves to be better known. The following article gives a fair impression of the sweep of her life.************************
In 1887 Harper helped organize a state woman suffrage society and became
its secretary. She was divorced in February 1890. Following further
newspaper work, she attended Stanford University (1893-95). In 1896 she
took charge of press relations for the campaign by the National American
Woman Suffrage Association for a state suffrage amendment in California.
As a result of her work in that campaign she was asked by Susan B. Anthony
to become her official biographer, and in 1897 she took up residence in
Anthony's home in Rochester, New York. The first two volumes of the Life
and Work of Susan B. Anthony appeared in 1898; a third was published in
1908. She also collaborated with Anthony on the fourth volume (1902) of the
History of Woman Suffrage (1902).
Harper served as chairman of the press committee of the International
Council of Women in 1899-1902 and was a delegate to council conventions in
London in 1899 and Berlin in 1904. During 1899-1903 she edited a woman's
column in the New York Sunday Sun, and from 1909 to 1913 she edited the
woman's page in Harper's Bazaar. She was also a correspondent for
newspapers in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New
York City. In 1916 Carrie Chapman Catt asked Harper to head the newly
formed Leslie Bureau of Suffrage Education within the National American
Woman Suffrage Association. The steady stream of letters, articles, and
pamphlets that issued from her office in Washington, D.C., played a large role
in the successful campaign for passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In
1922 she published the fifth and sixth volumes of the History of Woman
Suffrage, bringing the coverage up to 1920. Harper died in Washington, D.C.,
on March 14, 1931.
Copyright © 1999 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Who Owns History?--The Past in Public Life
"I'm going to fix up everything
just the way it was
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
History is a term endowed with two meanings. History in one sense is the past, that is everything which has taken place in time before this moment; history, in another sense of the term, is also the written record of the past, the story or representation of that other history. Because the past in its totality can never be recovered and placed between the covers of books or placed on a monument, skirmishes and full-fledged wars break out over what happened in the past and the meanings and importance of the past. The various sides in these disputes want to own history. The world today is filled with these struggles. Conflicts over history are important to people and nations. Combatants vie "to fix up everything," to create in their written histories and their erected monuments a past which mirrors in their minds and needs a time "just the way it was before." Nationalistic Serbs create foundation myths out of the 1389 battle of Kosovo, some of Thomas Jefferson's descendants turn aside DNA evidence to protect a sacred image as well as their equally sacred lineage, a claque of World War II veterans bend the Smithsonian's Enola Gay exhibit till it conforms to the history which they are certain they own.
Much human mischief and not a little blood has been shed in pursuing and using the ownership of history. Popular comprehension of the issues surrounding this ownership are usually ignored or assumed to be inconsequential. It is a weakness in our historical understanding, a vacuum if you will, that cannot be filled with more facts, celebrations, recreations concerned with the surfaces of the past. The issues involved are psychological as well as political.
Back to Contents
O & O: Real and Imagined
CARSDM was founded sometime in 1983 during the gray depths of the Reagan years. The founding members recognized our unasked for responsibility and took the steps necessary to keep the lamp of civilization lit in America. After all, Terre Haute, Indiana, our fair city, is "The Crossroads of America." (You can find irrefutable proof of this on the corner of 7th and Wabash Avenue if you want to look. The Official "Crossroads" plaque is right there. So, damn it, if you don't believe me, go take a look for yourself.) Anyway, given our central location in the geographical and intellectual space that is America, we did feel a responsibility to ignore the leads of East and West boasts. Benighted coastal types clearly were living in the proverbial dark ages, frozen in a slough of despond. People Magazine and the TV Guide may have served as the reading material of choice for many others in this Age of Greed and Celebrity, but we chose, ahem, the higher road of literature and distinguished non-fiction.
I hope the above history of our origins, written in the modest tone
which befits the congenitally reticent, modest Midwesterner,
catches the spirit of our initial motives. The "Dancing Machine" element in our organization title may need some explanation.
Emma Goldman is attributed with saying, but probably did not say, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your
revolution." We of the CARSDM feel she could, would or should have said this. And if she didn't, we are saying it. It is a
hallowed CARSDM tradition to finish each book discussion by putting the sacred music of Tina Turner on the record/tape/cd
player, find the "Rolling On the River" track, and proceed to dance our asses off while sending our hearts racing at
dangerous levels. Emotional and intellectual catharsis requires a physical counterpart.
Book Selection Process
Our book choices reflect the interest of our members, the issues of
the day, the eternal questions of the world and the cosmos,
and whatever the hell is available in the local libraries and in paperback editions. We eschew themes, outlines, clustered
concept foci, or any other stilted and stifling methodology which would straight-jacket our choices. And heaven forbid that our Reading and Dancing Society ever become part of a self-improvement plan, a life-long-learning project, or a "Yes! You Can Read For Success!" TV infomercial.
Our selection procedure is simple. At the end of each discussion (and
before the "Rolling on the River" ritual, in
other words, while we still have breath left in our bodies), the next person on our list of current members announces her/his
choice for the next meeting. This is followed by much encouraging "oohing" and "ahhhing" over the brilliance of the selection
which in turn is followed by a flurry of date book/calendar shuffling. We are all extremely busy people with very full schedules
in the world of work, retirement, and generally doing good in the community, so finding a date for the next meeting can be
vexing. However, recognizing the importance of our work for Terre Haute and the nation, we always manage to agree upon a
date four to six weeks in the future. Or, should you peruse the scheduling of past selections over the decades, you might notice that the date sometimes turns out to be four to six months hence. But, as one of our role models has said: "We must go on. We can't go on. We go on."
Member's COMMENTS and AUTO-BIOS
As creator/keeper of the flame that is the CARSDM web page I
have exhausted the limits of my imagination and powers of
exaggeration. I cannot begin to do justice to the member's lives, achievements, quirks and scars (physical and emotional) by
which you will know them. So I won't. Instead I ask each member, active and honorary, to submit to me their own
autobiographical/commentary statement so it can be added to this high-traffic web site. People from Finland to Fiji deserve to know about you and CARSDM. A short paragraph, a full blown, many paged memoir, it's your choice. Or, if auto-bio is not your thing, please send along some mention of a specific book or books read over these years which was of particular interest or importance to you. You might also include anecdotes about meetings and discussions from the past--"we laughed, we cried, we pretended to know what X was trying to say." You know, the stuff that makes it fun.
These are the kinds of insights into the inner-sanctum of CARSDM
world out on the web is panting to read about. And should that world choose
not to come rushing to our web door this will all still be available to
the CARSDM members, active and honorary, as a kind of informal memoir
and history of our decades of reading together. So, posthaste, by email
or snail mail, virtually or in-person, get your auto-bio statement and/or
commentary to me--or chance the possibility that one of the other members
will write it for you.
[space to be filled with big lies and large truths--such as the following]
From Gary on the famous Indy 500 CARSDM meeting:
Worthy CARSDM members--
I'm trying a distribution list with this email. If I have set
correctly the following people should be bothered by this message:
Diane, Jo, Tamie, Susie, Mike and Deb. (Deb is required to read
this outside, in front of her house.) If you do receive it, please
send me a short or long confirmation. I will also post this to the very lonely
CARSDM web site.
While I have you on screen, I think it's a good time to thank Mike
for going the extra five-hundred miles with his hospitality this past
Sunday. His vegetable race car sculpture indicates that he could
easily switch artistic mediums and still be creatively wonderful. His carrot
mobile clearly deserves the checkered flag. We all hope to see it
entered in the Vigo County Fair Vegetable Monuments and
Memories--Professional Division awards contest.
Thanks also to Sue B. for her very official scoreboard and her
enthusiastic handling of the felt pen. Thanks as well, Sue, for your
careful guarding of the prize cash. Did you know there was a pool on
as to whether or not you would show up with the loot on race day?
What can we say to Tamie except, you deserved the win. After all,
you arrived on the scene announcing that Montoya was THE MAN, that
you have been following his career in the CART League for years and
that his carburator tests indicated his "ride" (as afficianados such
as you insist on calling the cars these people drive) were
outstanding. With interest and inside knowledge like that, what
chance did the rest of us have?
The Tenth Man was a great selection, even if Sue places
all of her
libidinous votes on the yam infested Brazil.
A point on the G. Greene book that comes to me now is how during the
American Civil War men were allowed to puchase substitutes to fight for them
in the military. By the twentieth century, with the idea of total
and democratic wars being linked, this practice was no longer
allowed. My question would be: Granting the differences in setting,
circumstances and time, was Chavet's purchase of life any more
morally reprehensible than that of some rich Hudson River scion who
decides to sit on the sidelines and skip Gettysburg, etc.? Or, try
this one: Viet-Nam and a ticket out through paying the price of
college tuition. A favorite anti-V-N slogan of those good ol' bad
days was: "Draft old men's money, not young men's bodies." And so it
goes. . .
Here is the web address to my rickety, very low-tech web site:
After you get there, scroll down, down, down, I said DOWN, to the
CARSDM section. I've added links for Graham Greene and Phillip Roth.
Jo, the Roth selection looks very intriguing. How often do you read
two review summaries, one that says 1) this may very well be Roth's
greatest work and the other proclaiming indignantly 2) it's a shame
when a author has to write a whole novel to get even with an
ex-wife. I know, this isn't as intriguing as Mike announcing that
Brazil is so raunchy that only a person who would trap and murder
small furry animals could possibly read and enjoy the book, but
it's not half bad.
love to all,
Mike sends this along on The Tenth Man for your thought and analysis.
Responding to question of Chaval's relative reprehensibility
in hiring a surrogate firing squad victim... Yes, I think its similiar to
paying someone else to fight in one's place or taking advantage of the
already advantageous position of being in college to avoid service. In those
situations tho, the thrill and romance of battle seems to always entice at
least a few upper crusters to sign up for adventure. I think its signifigant
that Greene places the story in a hostage camp, thereby reducing the allure
of potential glory. Few would enlist for this duty. Of course after the lots
are drawn , certain death at dawn kills any spirit of adventure deader than a
crucifixion nail. Adventure depends on at least the possibility of survival.
There's no fighting chance here, no cause or homeland to defend. All that's
required is take one's place without complaint.Volunteers at this point? Only
Janvier steps up.( January> first month/ Jesus>first son, both J names! Ask
Suzy if this qualifies as a symbol sighting.) And how about those 3 x's,
crosses on the scraps of paper. Is that golgothic or what? If this is
symbolic it turns the Chistian version inside out. Instead of one dying for
the sins of the many, the Nazis require that many, one in ten, are
sacrificed for the transgression of one ( the villager who shot the soldier)
There's more. Symbols I mean. I'm literary(ily ) stubbing my toes on them! My
dictionary says January derives from Janus, who aside from being a two faced
scoundral is also the god of beginnings. After the executions Chaval is
reborn, has to start from scratch, no job,no money other than a subsistance
stipend ( almost providentially renewed), no position, no name. He keeps
only the initials. And what are those initials?... I rest my case.- So,
beyond causing us to judge ourselves in relation to the demands of possible
sacrifice that patriotism now and then requires, I think G.G. is also asking
who would trade places with you know who.
In a message dated 5/30/0 4:31:12 PM
Report on discussion of A. Roy's The God of Small Things
Mon, 28 Aug 2000
Worthy CARSDM Members:
It is my pleasure to report to those of you who were not at the
discussion of the A. Roy work that the God of Small Bones
(specifically those bones in Judy Barnebey's leg), has been at work
and Judy is well on the way to a full recovery. Look for her on the
dance floors of TH's night spots as well as the state's park trails.
The Susan's, Sue Bentrup and Susie Dehler, were unable to add
their insights to the discussion of Roy's book as they were both
recovering from colds. Mike was AWOL but undoubtedly at work on some
serious project, artistic or hedonistic. Diane, it was reported, was
off walking on some deserted Florida beach, looking up at the moon
and thinking about what book she will select for the next discussion.
(So, Diane, send us the word and date when you get a chance.)
Tamie, Judy and Jo carried the discussion of _The God of Small
Things_, agreeing that Roy is a very gifted writer. Deb, who didn't
get all that far into the novel, was inspired by it and has been
reading some works on the history of India as part of the British
empire. Some connections were drawn between Salman Rusdie and Roy.
All very fascinating. Yours truly spent more time than usual just
listening as I had failed (shame! shame!) to read any of it. I
can, however, report that Susie was really into the book and I am
inspired by the discussion and her endorsement to read this book at
some future date.
A very special highlight of the discussion was a surprise
cake for the august August birthday group: Deb, Jo, Gary and . . .
(?). We all appreciated the recognition and showed it by scarfing
down large chunks of delicious cake as well as obscenly bulbous
mounds of ice cream. Between (and during) large mouthfuls of these
goodies, we discussed politics and seemed to come to a consensus
that, with Jesse Jackson, we should, "stay out of the Bushes."
Thanks to Judy, and anyone else who helped her, for the special
shown the August birthday group.
Thanks to Diane for Bless Me Ultima
Anaya's tale of Anthony's spiritual awakening and struggles hit the mark with the CARSDM contingent this past Sunday. After some sincere ooohing and ahhhhing over, as well as some very tentative tap dancing on, Diane's classy new kitchen tile floor, all settled in to discuss the book. Naturally, much was said about the practices and rituals of the Catholic Church. Many of the members were eager to tell of their first communion experiences, all agreeing it was a feat requiring unblemished faith as well as an indefatiguable tongue to scrap that wafer off the roof of one's dehydrated mouth. There were also details on the struggles involved in mastering (I use the term very loosely) the _Baltimore Catechism_. Potentially more interesting, but only related to the group in the most general of terms, were accounts from the confessional from the days of yore. All were very vague on the penance paid for the sins of youth which would seem to indicate that many of these young sinners were very busy talking trash, dishonoring parents and authority figures in general, and torturing small animals or defiling their own bodies, or perhaps both simutaneously. Absolutely no one wanted to sit through anything as enervating as a perfect act of contrition. Gary said the very thought of it made his ganglia quiver. Or was that what he said about small animals and self-defilement? It was considered sacreligious in the extreme to follow through on the thought of sitting Mike in one of Diane's closets and having him hear our confessions. Mike's southern Baptist background also made him a poor candidate for the role, but he did admit to being very interested in that defiling stuff.
After Mike bullied us all into converting to the path of the Golden Carp, the discussion roamed into the lush fields, or should I say the succulent domain, of chitterlings, sweetbreads, pig's feet, and, yes, Gary's obsession with ganglia. Jo was clearly a fan of the hoof of the hog, going on and on as to where you can find the biggest, freshest, pinkest, cheapest, chewiest pork paws in town. Sue seemed to show what many of us thought to be a rather unhealthy interest in the "mud vein" of bottom feeders. Diane made the proper faces of disgust at the mention of various intenstinal delicacies. The gleam in her eyes, however, indicated a closer relationship with these slimey staples then she seemed willing to admit. Judy, who had started this turn in the conversation, seemed to take the position: "You serve it to me, I'll eat it." Susie squirmed through much of this, not asking anyone for any recipe that required a pan three to four feet long, two inches wide, and three inches deep. Tamie brought her alphabetic and orthographic skills to the fore, wielding a large dictionary with great authority and imperiously announcing that it's "chitterlings" not "chittlins." This upset Mike and he went off into the kitchen -- no, not to defile himself, probably to tap dance.
All of this talk about gustatory delights buried near the bowels of sows and in the heads of Mississippi catfish as well as assorted mammals, worked up an appetite in all. These cravings were admirably satiated when Diane served us a rainbow of ice cream flavors acompanied with a large plate of wafers, none of which stuck to the roof of the mouth.
Thanks again Diane--especially for Bless Me, Ultima, the book and the story behind your choice.
gary d from sixty-three
Observations (some even serious) on Ha Jin's Waiting:
What follows is my highly subjective recall and commentary on a
discussion of a work which took us to the precincts in time of
Mao's revolutionary China, through changes in tradition bound
village life, ominously hinted at the cultural revolution and the
Gang of Four, and, in vivid and disturbing terms, took note of the
advent of "So You Want to Be a Millionaire," China style.
All who managed to make it through the heaping snow and bitter
(Jo, Mike, Tamie plus Susie and Gary) to the discussion of Ha Jin's
Waiting were in agreement that the book was successful in transporting
you into a very different culture. For purposes of interpretation
and understanding of the novel, this strength carries with it
inherent dufficulties. We all strained to understand what was
universal in Lin Kong's personality and motives and what might be
attributed to the cultural, historical and political mileu in which
he lived. (All wished that Diane could have been with us seeing as
she grew up in Pekin and is, as she is always quick to remind us,
well versed in the ways of "Chinks." Alas, Diane was last seen
swaying in the alley in the back of her house. Perhaps thinking that
that last martini at The Verve Saturday night was not such a good
None of these difficulties, however, deterred anyone from jumping
with thoughts on a wide range of themes: "Lin Kong: Sensitive
Individual or Sexist Wimp?" "Facing A World of Collective
Constraints Through Ping Pong Counseling," "Eighteen Year Waiting
Period No Fault Divorce: Reactionary or Revolutionary," and "Would
You Rather Have Bound Feet or Shingles?" (On this last issue, it
would have been good to have Sue's expertise. Unfortunately she
decided to stay home and try to try on bras. You have to ask HER
about this. We all wish Sue quick relief and recovery from the
devils tormenting her.)
During the course of the discussion, Mike refused to admit that
Shoyu was the gal of his dreams, but he did seem to become very
animated when the discussion turned her way. Tamie insisted on
calling Second Donkey, Donkey Kong. No one delved into the meaning
of this Freudian slip. Jo put up a reasoned front in support of the
Revolution, noting that life down on the farm seemed to consist of a
diet of Dead Donkey Five Ways, polluted water, and plenty of back
breaking gardening. Susie couldn't understand why Manna failed to
learn how to ride a bycycle, certain that this skill would have saved
her life. For myself, little was left to comment on. What was in my
mind, however, was how I sure would like to attend those Chinese
weddings and fall down on the dance floor a few times.
While none, or very little of the above (some of which actually was
part of the forum) , really gets to the brilliant essence of our
discussion, I can say again that the book did elicit a very lively
response in all present. So lively that four of us felt the need to
retire to the Olive Garden and consume large bowls of salad, mucho
bread sticks, and enough pasta to feed a Great Leap Forward village
for three days.
The next Book Club is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2001. It will be
at the Daily/Dehler house. It's my selection and, having more than a
little Lin Kong in me, I am somewhat indecisive about the selection.
I'm choosing, _Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming_ by
Gale E. Christianson. Gale was a colleague of mine in ISU's History
Dept. and a person I have dinner with almost weekly. This book, in
my estimation, provides readers with fascinating historical
background on this issue. (It also brings you up to date on
where science is today in regard to global warming.) My hesitancy is
due to the old problem of availability of copies. ISU and VCPL both
list copies in their holdings. They also both indicate that these
copies have been lost. This may be a good thing at VCPL. Insist
that they order you a copy through interlibrary loan. ISU will
probably find their copy. The book is also available in paper.
Should we go ahead with this selection, and with your help I will
make this decision before the end of the year, I've been thinking
about inviting the author, Gale Christainson, to join us for the
discussion. If you think this is a problem, let me know.
Send responses to any of this or anything you want posted on the
CARSDM page. Also, you Ha Jin fans, there is a web link to a short
interview with the author on the CARSDM web page following the book
Hope to see you over the holidays. Cheers to all.
Commentary on The House of Sand and Fog drifts and rolls in:
_House of Sand and Fog_ by Andre Dubus III, seemed to throw sand in
the eyes of many of the CARSDM discussants this past Sunday. The
novel, to my mind, also created a fog bank of only mildly connected
verbiage among the participants. As I was so personally dissatisfied
with my own contributions, I have decided to continue the conversation
via email. (I will also post this stuff and any other after thoughts
which you send along on the CARSDM section of my web page.)
One guide to Dubus's novel (see www.vintagebooks.com/read) recalls the
instance in the story where the stiff, upright, uptight Colonel
Behrani buys himself a hat. This hat he says gives him "the
appearance of a man with a sense of humor about living, a man who is
capable to live life for the living of it." As the guide points out,
this is a poignant insight in regard to Behrani. And I would hold an
insight into the entire book. There is not a single light, let alone
humorous, moment in the story. But you can't fault Dubus for writing
a tale without any yuks in it, can you? Dubus chooses to send the
reader on a spiralling trip into the tragic. Whatever one might think
of the design and texture of this tragedy (And I for one see Part 2
of the novel, the part where the tragedy is played out, as improbable,
over-wrought, and, finally, unconvincing.), you still have to
consider Dubus's arresting ability in setting the machinery of the
tragic into gear. It is a rare experience to see a clash of cultures
such as this placed in the mundane world of a kind of
not-quite-a-nightmare domestic life. "A house is not a home," and
never is this truer than in the case of the house on Bisgrove Street.
To elaborate. Kathy's life may be disfunctional, she may carry more
monkeys on her back than one can see in a circus, but for me she still
is motivated in her behavior by a grasping for the anchors (false or
real?) of home and dreamed of family. Her fatigue and alcohol induced
troubled dreams/nightmares are about children, family, home. Her
waking nighmares are about these desires and needs slipping forever
from her grasp.
Behrani has fallen from a great height. It was a height which always
carried with it a disturbing ambivalence he could never manage to
shape into military order and silence, especially after the revolution
in Iran tore the curtain of secrecy and denial off of the work of
SAVAK. Behrani in the U.S. is without peace, or a place, a home, to
take these feelings. Becoming more like the Americans about which he
often expresses a contempt and loathing is not the answer. Yet it is
the answer he seems to be slipping into.
And Lester Burdon. OK, there is a bit of the Barney Fife(sp?) in
Lester. And yes, Dubus expects us to believe in him as being (at my
last count) a teacher, a protector, a God (he is allowed to break the
sacred rules of police procedure), a sensualist, a loving father, a
bullied child searching for satisfaction, an abandoned child searching
for a father, an admired cop, and a terribly muddled mastermind of a
terribly muddled "plan" to either get back Kathy's house or send he
and Kathy off to breakfast on the shores of Vancouver Island in
British Columbia, Canada. His "home" is really his patrol car and, as
many of us noted, this car never manages to find a road in the Bay
area it doesn't like.
Dubus, along with all writers of fiction, requires us to suspend
disbelief in regard to many of the actions taken by his humanly flawed
characters. But is this asking too much given the violent melodrama
of Part 2 of the novel? When Dubus starts moving his characters
through improbable hoops within improbable hoops that result in
Esmail, the most innocent of the characters, losing his life, he
wrenches us back into questioning the carefully wrought, delicately
balanced, combination of human, emotional and institutional, elements
he constructed in Part 1 of this book.
Why accept any of Kathy's hard life non-choices if she's going to
threaten old women in gas stations with a gun? Behrani makes a kind
of sense to us when he's building a widow's walk on his investment in
a new American life, but why the hell won't he get Kathy and Lester in
the same room with a couple of lawyers and save himself all those
breathing troubles at the end of the book? And where should we put our
finger when we want to pin down Lester and his chaotically (thanks
Mike) misguided heroics? The deeper motivations for his behavior come
late and they are a hodge-podge. Perhaps he belongs in that orange
clown suit, tucked away and forgotten about, even by Dubus.
But is it too easy to take an unbelievable or unsatisfying ending and
throw that cloak of failure over all Dubus has created? I think so.
Sure, by this ever darkening light, Kathy should have gotten her act
together, read her mail, found a few friends, torn up her
Blockbuster Membership Card and gotten a life. And yeah, Colonel
Behrani should sell his old uniform at a garage sale and put his past
in the past--this is America, we're born free of the past, we live in
a never ending present, run that up the old flag pole and salute it
my Persian Papa. Lester/Barney? Take the damn Segeant's exam. Go to
the Yellow Pages and hire a call girl every six months or so. And
for God's sake quit wasting the county's gas driving all over kingdom
come in the fog.
All of this is fair enough in the harsh, shadowless light of Dubus's
messy and unsatisfying conclusion. But in the end, I'll forget all
about guns, and failed and successful suicide attempts, and crowbars,
and, again, guns, unloaded and loaded, and blood, and jails,
and . . . Let them put that stuff in the movie version. What I
will remember from Dubus's novel is his success in setting people
from such seemingly disparate backgrounds off on tracks that
converge. This convergence didn't have to be spectacular,
unbelievable. Quiet tragedy would have served me better. But I
still give Dubus fulsome credit for writing that reminds us that the
tracks we all run on are tracks that we may choose but are not
entirely of our making. (Maybe this is why there is an AA _and_ an
RR.) And that the epigraph to the novel fits us all: "Beyond
myself/somewhere/I wait for my arrival."
Thanks to Deb for the outstanding hospitality and the fresh greens.
July 15 at Judy Barnebey's for Edith Wharton's _The House of Mirth_.
I too was very dissatisfied with my part in the discussion. I found
it very hard to articulate what I didn't like about the book. Even now
in retrospect it's not entirely clear to me. The novel's premise and
characters were truly fresh and original. I liked the basic outline of
both very much.
I guess what I didn't like was the development of the characters
and of the plot. For me the delineation of the characters was too
sparse. From the beginning they seemed shadowy, unbelievable, and, of
course, very extreme. I wish that Dubus had rounded out the characters
by showing us some of their less extreme sides (Kathy cleaning
successfully, Kathy's taste in movies, Lester with his kids, Lester
being a good cop,
etc. ) The addicts and depressed people I know also have other sides;
they are more than just their addiction or depression. These characters
seemed very flat, almost allegorical. We didn't get to see inside them.
But maybe that's what Dubus was aiming for. Anyway, thanks for your
e-mail! I think your idea of going to a play together and discussing it
I will risk appearing more foggily-mildly-connected in my verbage by
adding that in the first part
of the book the character development of Kathy and Lester appeared very flat to me. Their
action or inaction was circular and slow as well. Even though the last part of the book was more
unbelievable I thought the writing was better. The first part just droned on and on.
Oh, well, I guess that's what happens when two victims tie up with one
another, Lester's history
had been abuse as well, we didn't bring that out in the group. Both are looking to get rescued
from their lives, and no one is capable of devising a realistically workable plan and following
through with it.
The Iranian was at least acting on some moral code of his own, Lester
had to know as a
policeman that what they planned was illegal, he mentally ticked off the charges at one point.
Not to mention assessing the fall out to his children that he liked to fantasize about but not
actually spend time with. And of course Kathy, using all the skills of a stuck-in-the-victim-role
who is afraid of the pain that invariable will occur with any change (her taking responsiblity for
her own actions, for example) inflicts herself on whoever bumps? spirals? clashes? into her.
I wish I could read faster, I spent 15 precious hours of my life on
this book. Will have to get over
that "I must read the whole book out of courtesy to the reader attitude.!"
From Jo Ann Hyde
June 6, 2001
Susie and I are descended from Adriaen Hendricks Dewees (b.c.
d.c. 1674). He lived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was a book and art
dealer, and a friend and dealer for Rembrandt.
He was our g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g grandfather. Our interest in books
well.......................here goes: Born in a log cabin, no, wait, wrong bio.
Seriously, here's my two cents worth. thanks for letting me make a contribution:
Blessed with many friends who have indulged a penchant for truly bad home-made crafts with "oooooo" and "aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh" over the years, I have many interests. Would that my employment history been as illustrious as my academic career, but alas, I missedm y true calling in life - as a 50's backup singer - by a scant two decades. So, at 47, I'm still trying on occupations, looking for the one that fits.
Raised by parents who lived thru not only WWII but the Great Depression, I never feel better than when I'm putting away groceries, awash in the blissful knowledge that, in crossing the threshhold of Krogers, I can afford to purchase anything available within. To continue a tradition begun by my grandmother and to honor the sacrifices of my family, I regularly donate blood as a way of giving to the community.
For twenty years, I have had the singular good fortune of sharing my life with the only man I ever met who not only understands, but lives each of his days by, the golden rule. A man whose own imperfections allow him to overlook mine. It is a perfect union, not as in "flawless" but as in "match". We share a love of books, the outdoors, trips to the American West, and the simple pleasures of a backyard garden.
As a die-hard Rooseveltian Democrat, I would choose to be remembered by an Ashley Montague quote:
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can
do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and by the grace of God,
Mike Neary Diane Pigg Ida Husted Harper
JoAnn Hyde Libby Art Eugene V. Debs
Diane Bingham Steve Tesser
Deb Sitarski Gay Phillips
Judy Barnebey Sandy Koeneman
Tamie Dehler Jack Sitarski
Susie Dehler Lana Taylor
Gary Daily Nancy Campbell
Amy Amies Gordon Neary
Esther Mae Margonis
Those long, ugly strings of letters and numbers under the titles of the books we've read are links to web pages.[BE AWARE: THESE LINKS MAY NOT WORK OR MAY ASK YOU TO REGISTER TO THEIR SERVICE BEFORE THEY WILL WORK.] The links are often, but not always, to the New York Times. They include reviews of the book and/or essays/information about the authors and their works. Non-fiction works may include links to relevant news stories or resource information pertaining to the subject of the book.
[The keeper of the CARSDM cyber flame is always ready and willing to add links to this section of the page. If you know of material on web sites you want to have appended to the selections, please send it my way. You should also submit original material of your own. You know, things you wished you had said during our discussions or thoughts which have changed your mind about some specific book or author now that you are older and wiser. These kinds of responses may appear linked to specific books or may find their way into the "Member's Comments" section described above.]
The name in parentheses which follows each selction indicates the person
who chose that book. Where no name appears the
book was (somehow, and for some very good reason none of us can quite remember) chosen by acclamation. This list is far
from being complete or error free. Devoted as we are to heaving forth great thoughts and plumbing the depths of the exquisite
in life and literature, we cannot also be expected to be comprehensive in coverage or accurate in regard to troublesome details
like names, dates, etc.. But, if you know of choices that are missing or incorrect in any way, please let the flame keeper know.
John Fowles, THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN (Gary)
Carol Gilligan, IN ANOTHER VOICE (Nancy)
Andre Dubus, WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (Susie)
Carol Tarvis, ANGER: THE MISUNDERSTOOD EMOTION (Tamie)
Mark Twain, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (Gary)
William Least Heat Moon, BLUE HIGHWAYS (Nancy)
Loren Eiseley, THE STAR THROWER (Mary)
Vonda McIntyre, DREAM SNAKE (Gay)
Tom Wolfe, THE PAINTED WORD and FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE (Jo Ann)
Jayne Anne Phillips, MACHINE DREAMS (Susie)
Arthur Miller, DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Gary)
Al Santoli, EVERYTHING WE HAD (Jo Ann)
Herman Hesse, SIDDHARTHA (Gay)
Zora Neale Hurston, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (Tamie)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (Susie)
William Kennedy, IRONWEED (Gary)
Margaret Atwood, HANDMAID'S TALE
Milan Kundera, THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING (Susie)
Kurt Vonnegut, CAT'S CRADLE
Brian Moore, THE LONELY PASSION OF JUDITH HEARNE (Tamie)
Voltaire, CANDIDE (Gary)
Marilyn French, THE WOMEN'S ROOM (Jo Ann)
Toni Morrison, BELOVED (Susie)
Stephen Jay Gould, ESSAYS (Tamie)
Annie Dillard, PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK (Susie)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (Gary)
Mark Twain, LETTERS FROM THE EARTH (Libby)
Isaak Dinesen, "SORROW ACRE" and "DELUGE AT NORDERNAY" (Tamie)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA (Jo Ann)
William Gass, IN THE HEART OF THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY (Susie)
Isabel Allende, EVA LUNA (Gary)
Amy Tan, THE JOY LUCK CLUB (Tamie)
Don De Lillo, LIBRA (Susie)
William Faulkner, A FABLE (Deb)
Dalton Trumbo, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (Jo Ann)
John Gardner, MICHELSSONS GHOST (Steve)
Robert Darnton, THE GREAT CAT MASSACRE (Gary)
Sara Paretsky, BURN MARKS
John Steinbeck, OF MICE AND MEN (Steve)
Alex Haley, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X (Jo Ann)
Paul Bowles, THE SHELTERING SKY (Susie)
Paul Auster, MOON PALACE (Deb)
A. S. Byatt, POSSESSION (Tamie)
Julian Barnes, THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 10 1/2 CHAPTERS (Gary)
Neil Postman, AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH
Carlos Fuentes, CHRISTOPHER UNBORN (Jo Ann)
Jane Smiley, A THOUSAND ACRES (Susie)
Janet Frame, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (Tamie)
Banana Yoshimoto, KITCHEN (Susie)
E. Annie Proulx, THE SHIPPING NEWS (Jo Ann)
Alan Furst, DARK STAR (Deb)
Derrick Bell, FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL (Gary)
Barbara Kingsolver, PIGS IN HEAVEN (Tamie)
Joyce Carol Oates, BLACK WATER (Susie)
Cormac McCarthy, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (Jo Ann)
Carol Shields, THE STONE DIARIES (Susie)
Joyce Johnson, MINOR CHARACTERS (Deb)
Julia Blackburn, DAISY BATES IN THE DESERT (Gary)
Robert Olen Butler, A GOOD SCENT FROM THE MOUNTAIN (Jo Ann)
Jane Hamilton, A MAP OF THE WORLD (Tamie)
Melissa Fay Greene, PRAYING FOR SHEETROCK (Gary)
Paul Auster, IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS (Deb)
Doris Lessing, THE FOUR GATED CITY (Mike)
Chinua Achebe, THINGS FALL APART (Susie)
Salman Rushdie, THE SATANIC VERSES (Jo Ann)
E. Annie Proulx, ACCORDIAN CRIMES (Deb)
Roddy Doyle, THE WOMAN WHO RAN INTO DOORS (Tamie)
Frank McCourt, ANGELA'S ASHES (Gary)
Joan Brady, THE THEORY OF WAR (Susie)
Richard Ford, INDEPENDENCE DAY (Mike)
Larry Watson, MONTANA (Sue)
Ernest Hemingway, ISLANDS IN THE STREAM (Jo Ann)
Isabel Fonseca, BURY ME STANDING: THE GYPSIES AND THEIR JOURNEY (Deb)
Peter Hoeg, BORDERLINERS (Tamie)
Albert Camus, THE PLAGUE (Gary)
Julia Alvarez, IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES (Susie)
Charles Frazier, COLD MOUNTAIN (Sue)
Brian Hall, THE IMPOSSIBLE COUNTRY (Mike)
James L. Nelson, THE CONTINENTAL RISQUE (Darla)
Helena Maria Viramontes, UNDER THE FEET OF JESUS (Jo Ann)
Ivan Doight, DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR (Deb)
Ursula Hegi, STONES FROM THE RIVER (Tamie)
Louis DeBernieres, CORRELLI'S MANDOLIN (Diane)
Stephen Ambrose, UNDAUNTED COURAGE (Tamie)
Alan Duff, ONCE WERE WARRIORS (Susie)
Theodore Zeldin, AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF HUMANITY--selected chapters(Gary)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, THE YEARLING (Sue)
THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH (Mike)
John Updike, RABBIT, RUN (Jo Ann)
Theodore Dreiser, SISTER CARRIE (Diane)
Bruce Chatwin, IN PATAGONIA (Deb)
Bernhard Schlink, THE READER (Tamie)
Michael Cunningham, THE HOURS (Susie)
Russell Baker, GROWING UP (Gary)
Thomas Hauser, MARK TWAIN REMEMBERS: A NOVEL (Sue)
Graham Greene, THE TENTH MAN (Mike)
Phillip Roth, I MARRIED A COMMUNIST (Jo Ann)
Arundhati Roy, THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS (Judy)
Rudolfo Anaya, BLESS ME, ULTIMA (Diane)
is La Llorona? http://www.lallorona.com/La_index.asp
J. K. Rowling, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (Tamie)
Ha Jin, WAITING (Susie)
Gale Christianson, GREENHOUSE: THE 200 YEAR HISTORY OF GLOBAL WARMING
Charles Dickens, HARD TIMES (Mike)
Nathaniel Philbrick, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA: THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHALESHIP ESSEX (Sue)
Andre Dubus III, THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG (Deb)
Edith Wharton, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (Judy)
Carlos Fuentes, THE DEATH OF ARTEMIO CRUZ (Jo Ann)
Anita Diamant, THE RED TENT (Diane)
David Guterson, SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS (Susie)
Barbara Kingsolver, HIGH TIDE IN TUCSON: ESSAYS FROM NOW OR NEVER (Gary)
Kent Haruf, PLAINSONG
Darin Strauss, CHANG AND ENG (Sue)
William Faulkner, ABSALOM, ABSALOM (Mike)
Edward Albee, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (Jo Ann)
Laura Hillenbrand, SEABISCUIT: AN AMERICAN LEGEND (Deb)
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (Diane)
Viginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Susie)
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (If All Vigo County Read the Same Book 2003)
Ian McEwan, Atonement (Gary)
Kathryn Harrison, The Seal Wife (Sue)
Beryl Markham, West With the Night (Amy)
Mike Royko, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (Jo)
Franz Kafka, The Trial (Mike)
Yann Martel, The Life of Pi (Deb)
Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire (Judy)
Louise Erdrich, THE LAST REPORT ON THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE (Diane)
Quiz [This feature of the CARSDM site is under construction. The flame keeper is looking for questions to include here. Questions pertaining to any and all aspects of CARSDM lore, from what was read to what was said, and anything else that strikes your fancy, your memories or your devious imaginations are encouraged and welcomed. When the flame keeper has enough material the "Quiz" will be posted. Answers submitted to any of the questions which strikes the flame keeper as being worthy (now that's power) will be posted for the world to see and wonder about.]
And now, the first questions received:
1) Who cleaned out his/her refrigerator and served the group only foods with expired expiration dates?
2) What book do we all grimace about because no one could actually finish reading it (even the person who selected it)?
3) Which group member showed the most bravery in reading a book whose title and theme included a creature she has a phobia of?
4) In what novel did a character alledgedly sit in the sun and recite the following: "Beans, beans, the more you eat/ the more you toot/ the more you toot/ the better you feel/ so eat beans at every meal." Or, if he didn't recite this, Sue probably thinks he should have.
5) Name the different jobs the main character in Sister Carrie worked. Does any member of CARSDM have more different jobs in their work history?
6) "Oh the places we'll go/ the things we will see." (Apologies to Dr. Seuss for probable misquote.) Which geographic setting of the books we've read is a place you would most like to see for the first time or, possibly, again? Answer this with a line or two from the book describing some aspect of this place but not naming that place. Readers can guess the places submitted.
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This page is under constant construction and repair.
Please send suggestions and corrections to me when you become irritated
enough to do so.