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Wyoming Skies, and Men with Garden Hoses

This is a light reading (and heavy writing) week for me, but that’s deceptive. For my nonfiction literature class, in the last couple of weeks I’ve had the joy of seeing Wyoming through Gretel Ehrlich’s essays of place in The Solace of Wide Open Spaces, and I’ve re-read John Agee’s essay, “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” which he uses as a prologue for A Death in the Family. If you have a copy of Death in the Family sitting around, re-read the prologue on its own for a remarkable sense of time and place.

Reading for research gives me the chance to jump into a different lake, swim around a bit, then clamber out when I’m done. For my workshop piece on guns, I’ve paddled through the literature of weaponry, and for a lit class essay on women and writing, I’ve taken a quick plunge into the history of Terezin, the “model camp” nestled in a beautiful spa area. Terezin was a sham, of course; of its 140,000 inmates, only 19,000 survived (85,000 died in death camps they were sent to, and 33,000 died in Terezin itself).

If you are looking for a different kind of recommendation for women’s history month, In Memory’s Kitchen is a short book with a brief history of Terezin and a collection of recipes gathered by a woman who died there. (Food was a chronic obsession in the camps, and discussing food and recipes even had a name: “cooking with the mouth.”) If this book is on a library shelf where you work, put it on display, possibly next to the better-known I Never Saw Another Butterfly, and see if someone doesn’t snap it up.

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