Took a Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Bill Bryson

When I was growing up a bookish kid, back in the 1970s, owning books was not a priority for my parents. ‘A roof over our head and food on the table,’ was my mother’s motto at the depths of the decade’s fiscal woes.

That didn’t mean she was hostile to books. We went to the library all the time. And she had an old, oak bookcase filled with books from her youth. Given the right deal, she’d even buy a book. That’s how I first learned of the Appalachian Trail-in a National Geographic book about a thru-hike. I must have been 9 or 10.

Since then I’ve scrambled along various bits and pieces of the AT never once considering a thru-hike or even knocking off a whole state. You could say I’m avoiding a challenge. But as the inventor of executive camping I Continue reading

Adolf the Clown

Young Adolf
Beryl Bainbridge

Have I mentioned the Barnes Rule? The Barnes Rule is a rarely invoked loophole which allows me to postpone less than pleasurable reading by immersing myself in anything written by Julian Barnes. The trick is, the Barnes material has to be close at hand. If you have to search you have to suffer–very pre-Vatican.

Thankfully a relatively recent issue of The New Yorker contained a Julian Barnes short story which provided some respite from Continue reading

This Bud’s for You

Family Man
Calvin Trillin

Nicknames are not my thing. I grew up in the land of the diminutive; my dad still has a 64-year old neighbor who answers to Ronnie. I think true nicknames, which I define as what you’re called and answer to regardless of its relationship to your given name, must be an Ivy League, WASP-y thing.

I suppose such a blanket statement requires some evidence. I didn’t encounter nicknames as described above until I went to Continue reading