216 Chapters
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Medium 9780253019028

Bras-Coupé

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

translated from French and introduced by Sarah Jessica Johnson

LITTLE ENOUGH IS known about Louis-Armand Garreau. His fictions tell us that he was an anti-slavery Frenchman and intimate examiner of antebellum Louisiana. His patchy biography reveals a man whose political writings necessitated a life of on and off exile from France. By the 1830s, Louisiana was a known and fairly stable haven for French and francophone refugees of many backgrounds; political outcasts were common contributors to the multilingual literary world of the newly American state. Garreau’s short story, “Bras-Coupé,” translated here for the first time into English, is a graphic and nuanced depiction of plantation slavery in New Orleans, capturing the multi-ethnic, multilingual, immigrant-saturated city and its environs.

Published in France in 1856, “Bras-Coupé” retells a popular local legend based on actual events of the 1830s: Then, a slave named Squire escaped from a plantation and lost an arm in the process. He continued to evade the police in a standoff that lasted years. Quickly dubbed “le Bras-Coupé” or “The Severed Arm,” Squire and his supposed “encampment of outlaw negroes near the city” resisted capture for enough time to reanimate intense local fears of slave revolt. Additionally—and importantly for this literary history—the continuous newspaper reporting of the prolonged stalemate built up a legend that would go on to be retold by late-nineteenth century authors George Washington Cable and Lafcadio Hearn. The former would feature Bras-Coupé’s story in two chapters of his magnum opus The Grandissimes: A Tale of Creole Life (1880), while the latter would respond to Cable in his newspaper column with a report meant to set the historical record straight, titled “The Original Bras Coupe” (1880).

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Medium 9780253019042

Part 1 Saints and Sinners

Douglas A. Wissing Quarry Books ePub

Indiana-born entertainer Red Skelton left Vincennes in 1925 to join Doc Lewis’s Patent Medicine Show. From there he entertained people in tent shows, showboats, circuses, dance marathons, vaudeville, radio, movies, and television.

Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society, General Picture Collection, M 411.

RED SKELTON

IT WAS A BIG DEAL WHEN RED SKELTON CAME TO VISIT MY grandfather, Clarence Stout Sr., when I was a kid in Vincennes. There was not much going on down there in the mid-1950s, and Red was definitely the town celebrity. Red would show up in a vast car and disappear behind the pocket doors of my grandfather’s wainscoted office that was hung with hundreds of autographed publicity photos of show-business greats and not-so-greats from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Besides being a composer and impresario, my grandfather managed the old Vincennes vaudeville theater, the Pantheon, when Red was a penniless, rubber-faced kid with a penchant for falling off stages for laughs. He told him, “Get out of Vincennes, Red, you’ve got too much talent,” he later recounted as he puffed on his pipe.

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Medium 9781574416367

The “Boys” in the Bunkhouse

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub
Medium 9780253018571

Castles

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

ON A FALL day in 2002, Robert Fidler jumped into his excavator and began piling up bales of straw. He stacked them, one at a time, until he built a forty foot wall around his old cow shed in Redhill, Surrey, south of London. Then he cut a small arch into the straw and embedded a doorway into the wall. Over the next four years, he moved back and forth through that door with bricks and mortar, secretly building a dream home for his wife Linda. Four years later, he jumped back into the excavator and tore down the walls of straw to reveal Honeycrock Castle, a two-turret, four-bedroom dream home complete with vaulted ceilings, a duck pond, and a cannon.

Honeycrock Castle has attracted national attention from the media in the UK, and not just because Robert built it as a labour of love. As it turns out, Fidler built his castle on a green belt, in violation of agricultural reserve regulations. The Reigate and Banstead Town Council was not amused. Fidler, they claimed, had already stretched the meaning of land use bylaws by expanding a reservoir for livestock into a decorative pond, and they considered the construction of his new home to be a “blatant attempt at deception.” Fidler responded by saying that his house was perfectly legal because no one had complained about it during the mandated four-year waiting period. Not surprisingly, the case of the “straw bale castle” has become a cause célèbre in the United Kingdom, pitting libertarians and romantics against pragmatists and environmentalists. The building is still standing, but it is marked for demolition. Fidler has publicly declared that “an Englishman is entitled to have his castle,” and he has appealed the demolition order all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. As a steadfast Christian, he believes that God is involved in his case: “This house will never be knocked down. This is a beautiful house that has been lovingly created. I will do whatever it takes to keep it.”

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Medium 9780253018571

The Great Convert

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

The fangs of a tiger and the mouth of a mosquito are capable of the same harm.

—IGBO PROVERB

IN MANY OF his sermons, Fr. Paul talked about the process of sanctification. He would stand on the altar, his arms half-concealed in his flowing white robe with yellow stripes, and his steps lissom as he moved about the altar, speaking and gesticulating while the congregation sat in silence as if hypnotized. Although it is now nine years past, the memory of these things is so sharp in my mind that I can still vividly recall the exact words he often used: “It is a process, a divine process akin to that of childbearing. Christ tears down the once imperforate veil of sin with the tempered force of his divine presence. And this,” he would say with great assurance, letting his eyes dart from row to row, “is the way of sanctification; of transformation.”

His own transformation began one Sunday morning in March 1984, when a band of armed robbers stormed our church during a service. Mass was going on and Fr. Paul was about to bless the sacrament, his hands raised over the bowl containing the Holy Communion, when the service was interrupted by a blast of gunshots. Within a breath, armed men entered the cathedral from all the entrances, screaming: “All of you get down. Get down! Down!” There was an immediate response as the congregation of over two hundred people flattened on the paved floor. One of the men pointed his gun to the roof again and, after a thunderous roar, I saw a bullet perforate one of the blades of the ceiling fan. From where I lay on my back near the front seat of the auditorium, I watched the hole in the now dented fan blade swirl like a revolving eye. Although the entire congregation had lain on the floor, Fr. Paul did not. He stood firmly behind the wooden podium, his hands on the Bible half-opened in front of him. As he would tell me later, although he’d found himself trembling, he’d felt as though two long nails had been driven through his feet into the firm ground, rendering him immobile. This defiance surprised the bandits.

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Medium 9781574412086

11. Naomi Shihab Nye, “Home Address” from Never in a Hurry

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 11

Naomi Shihab Nye

Home Address

Naomi Shihab Nye’s seventh and most recent anthology, Is This Forever, or what? Poems & Paintings From Texas, came out in 2004. “Home Address” is from her collection Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places. She lives in San Antonio with her husband, photographer Michael Nye and their son. Her collection of poems 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle

East was a National Book Award finalist. Forthcoming in 2005 are A Maze Me

(poems for girls), Going Going (a novel for teens) and You and Yours (poems).

She is one of the many Texans who still believes in separation of church and state.

Yesterday we paid off the mortgage on our ninety-year-old white house on South Main Avenue. I drove from San Antonio to Austin with a cashier’s check in my purse and a receipt marked HAND-DELIVERED for the mortgage company to sign. I wanted to see that stamp marked

PAID IN FULL, to step back out the door into the sun and blink hard and take a full fine breath.

When I entered the marble lobby of the office building—cool and blank as any bank—beams of light were slanting through high windows onto the gleaming floor and the music playing over loudspeakers was the very same trumpet anthem I walked down the aisle to at our wedding

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Medium 9780253356864

33. Stripped

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped. (29)

Walden’s more didactic sections, especially its first two chapters, repeatedly erase the distinction between practical issues and philosophy. This move, of course, lies at the heart of Thoreau’s project, announced early in “Economy”: “To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school.… It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically” (13). With Thoreau, there is no necessary priority: either the practical or the philosophical issue can come first. Thus, the task of building a house with boards from James Collins’s shanty prompts an introductory disquisition on architecture, which, in turn, abruptly becomes a moral precept: “Our lives must be stripped.”

Emerson dismissively suggested that Thoreau found it easy to follow his own maxim: “He had no temptations to fight against, no appetites, no passions, no taste for elegant trifles,” Emerson wrote in his eulogy. “He was bred to no profession; he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the state; he ate no flesh, he drank no wine, he never knew the use of tobacco.” Even to his most sympathetic readers, Thoreau’s life has always seemed remarkably “stripped.” Less apparent, however, is the extent to which Thoreau also “stripped” Walden. After promising “a simple and sincere account” of his own life at the pond, Thoreau offers a book whose lack of intimacy continues to unsettle us. Thoreau tells few stories, admits to no doubts. He never uses Emerson’s name or mentions his own family. Anecdotes about the Collinses’ family cat or a hunted fox trail off into dead ends, while others about an “artist of Kouroo” or “a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove” become opaque parables. Because we have grown so accustomed to Walden’s remoteness, we may realize what Thoreau has left out only when we happen upon a Journal entry registering his characteristic mood swings:

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Medium 9780253000958

Mountain Music

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

On a June morning high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, snowy peaks rose before me like the promise of a world without grief. A creek brimful of meltwater roiled along to my left, and to my right an aspen grove shimmered with freshly minted leaves. Bluebirds kept darting in and out of holes in the aspen trunks. Butterflies flickered beside every puddle, tasting the succulent mud. Sun glazed the new grass and licked a silver sheen along the boughs of pines.

With all of that to look at, I gazed instead at my son’s broad back, as he stalked away from me up the trail. Sweat had darkened his gray T-shirt in patches the color of bruises. His shoulders were stiff with anger that would weight his tongue and keep his face turned from me for hours. Anger also made him quicken his stride, gear after gear, until I could no longer keep up. I had forty-nine years on my legs and heart and lungs, while Jesse had only seventeen on his. My left foot ached from old bone breaks and my right knee creaked from recent surgery. Used to breathing among the low muggy hills of Indiana, I was gasping up here in the alpine air, a mile and a half above sea level. Jesse would not stop, would not even slow down unless I asked; and I was in no mood to ask. So I slumped against a boulder beside the trail and let him rush on ahead.

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Medium 9780253220042

7. Honor

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM JORDAN

 

Yasmine speaks …

I was not exactly thrilled when the biology teacher teamed me up with Wafa Ar-Rahman. We’d be working in pairs, she said, when we started cutting things up—a learning experience I really did not look forward to one bit. And now I had to do it with Wafa. Not that she was obnoxious or stupid, but she was new in school, and so conservative and quiet and shy that she really sort of stuck out.

When I got home, I told my mother that my biology partner would be this girl Wafa, whom I could hardly even see, she was so covered up by her hijab. “She wears her head scarf over her eyebrows, and she doesn’t say a thing. She’ll be so boring, Mum,” I moaned. “I’ll hate that class.”

But my mother was the wrong person to complain to. She was a hard-hitting investigative journalist, and she saw opportunities for social change and noble struggle in practically everything. She was so good at her job, in fact, that she’d won a special fellowship to study in London the previous year, and we’d all spent six glorious months there.

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Medium 9780253356864

29. Readers

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Because Walden’s growing popularity has often derived from Thoreau’s advocacy of certain issues, especially civil disobedience and environmentalism, we have tended to avoid a central problem: what is Thoreau’s relationship to his readers? It’s not an easy question to answer. Walden is at once inspirational and demoralizing, revelatory and boring, practical and quixotic; and Thoreau himself appears as a prophet, companion, scold, laborer, idler, eccentric, businessman, braggart, nature lover, and instructor. What reader is sufficiently thorough (to evoke his name’s Concord pronunciation) to accommodate all these attitudes and roles? Walden, in other words, not only represents Thoreau’s solution to his own problem of writing; it also poses a problem of reading: who can read Walden correctly?

Walden is an instruction manual, but it is also a sermon, offering the standard fire-and-brimstone rebuke before its summons to the True Way. “There is not one of my readers,” Thoreau announces, “who has yet lived a whole human life” (223), a relatively mild invective compared to others, where general propositions snap suddenly into direct address:

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Medium 9781574412086

6. Joe Nick Patoski, “Springs”

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 6

Joe Nick Patoski

Springs

Joe Nick Patoski lives, works, plays, and swims near the Hill Country village of Wimberley. He’s been writing about Texas and Texans for more than 35 years.

Of all the features that define the natural state of Texas, nothing speaks to me like springs do. As the source of water in its purest, most pristine form, springs are the basic building block of life. They present themselves in a manner as miraculous as birth itself, gestating in the womblike darkness of an aquifer deep underground until pressure percolates, pushes, and forces it up through cracks, fissures, and faults in the limestone cap until it bubbles, seeps, sometimes even gushes to the surface, magically turning everything around it lush and green. Springs feed creeks, streams, and rivers, and nourish and sustain plant and animal life. Springs are why

Texas has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years.

Compared to escarpments, aquifers, uplifts, domes, valley, mesas, sky islands, estuaries, and the other natural attributes that make Texas

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Medium 9780253356864

7. Death

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden lives up almost entirely to the purpose Thoreau announces in the epigraph: “I do not intend to write an ode to dejection.” (5) However varied his moods may have been during the book’s nine-year gestation, Thoreau produced a consistently optimistic work by sticking to a strict compositional plan: “I put the best face on the matter.” As a result, in the midst of so much high spirits, the famous penultimate paragraph of “Where I Lived and What I lived For” seems not only obscure but unexpected:

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimiter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. (70)

Thoreau had written like this before. Using the same odd phrase, “to front a fact,” he had previously imagined his enterprise as another kind of life-and-death struggle:

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Medium 9780253018632

VooDooDoll: What if Haïti were a Woman

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

(1) The Doll: She is no longer as PLUSH in certain areas as she once was in her days of glory. Still from afar, she resembles a human cake adorned with what could be CANDIED POLES with flowing streamers ready to be served at the next supper. Further inspection shows these to be tattered flags bearing national

emblems & family crests.

More scrutiny reveals the poles as pins pricked so close to parts of her that an estimate they cover nearly 80% of her surface would not be an exaggeration. Each needle that now protrudes from her is well wedged into the hypodermis. They had either been carefully placed in various points away from her meridians to provoke nervous conditions or were thrown par hazard from some distance. Flying arrows from blindfolded archers seeking to impress their rivals. Those who made their mark got 10 points. The ones who did not received 30. There is always a reward. The game was not about winning but an exercise in devotion to the sport. It is always the dare.

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Medium 9780253011992

1. The World of the Brivnshteler

Alice Nakhimovsky Indiana University Press ePub

The age of the brivnshteler was an age of modernization, which some Russian Jews pursued, some resisted, and most accommodated to one degree or another. The brivnshteler served as an agent of change, guiding Jewish readers in their adaption of new social, cultural, and economic realities. It was also a reflection of change, encompassing within its pages almost the full range of Jewish responses to modernization.

The earliest Russian brivnshtelers appeared against a backdrop of political and social fragmentation. In the early nineteenth century, the authority wielded by the rabbinate was under attack, as the spread of Hasidism gave rise to a competing religious establishment. The cohesion of Jewish communities was further broken by the military draft instituted by Nicholas I. With no good way out, community leaders used the children of the poor to fulfill conscription quotas dodged by the rich through influence and bribes. The kahal—the autonomous Jewish community council—continued to run local communities even after being formally outlawed in 1844,1 but its authority over individuals was considerably weakened.

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Medium 9781574416367

Murray’s Problem

Gayle Reaves, Editor UNT Press ePub

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