Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain
The essays were supposedly written during a dark period of the author’s life. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was deeply in debt and had lost his wife and one of his daughters.
The work was published posthumously in 1962.
In the opening section, Twain, in the guise of Satan, writes detailed reports to the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.
The essays were initially considered too “controversial” to publish, and were suppressed by Twain’s own family who felt that the writer’s reputation would be harmed if the depth of his dislike for Christianity, and his uncanny ability to see through all the foibles of human belief and the large number of biblical contradictions, became widely known.
The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty
Southern folk tale set in Mississippi by one of the greatest American short story writers and novelists.
The story was inspired by and loosely based on the Grimm fairy tale.
Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christina Byl
The author first encountered the National Parks on vacation. After graduating from college, broke and ready for a new challenge, she joined a Glacier National Park trail crew as a seasonal “traildog” maintaining mountain trails for the millions of visitors Glacier draws every year. Byl quickly goes from thinking of the job as a paycheck, a summer diversion, and welcomes it as a rewarding and very real lifelong endeavor. The years she spent as a “traildog” doing the often underappreciated, backbreaking work of maintaining wilderness trails—first in Montana, and later in Alaska’s Denali National Park is a beautiful and fun story. Recommended for anyone who loves wild places. *Chapter arrangement was a bit awkward, it took a few chapters (they are short) to get with her flow.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A fascinating and learned read!!!
The author’s words: This is a book for people who care deeply about racial justice, but do not yet appreciate the magnitude of the crisis faced by communities of color as a result of mass incarceration. For all those trapped within America’s latest caste system – whether locked up or out in mainstream society.
Chapter topics include: the structure of mass incarceration, the role of race in the U.S. criminal justice system, exploration of the parallels between mass incarceration and Jim Crow, how the caste system operates once people are released from prison.
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
*Number 91 on the Modern Library’s list of best books.
The story is set in a fictionalized version of Caldwell’s home town, …lays bare the story of the Lesters, the poorest, whitest, trashiest, horniest family in rural Georgia. Extreme poverty has reduced them to little more than dogs. They are desperately hungry, and sexually frustrated.
**According to Chicago Tribune article, Caldwell maintained to the end that the characters in his 1932 novel were shaped by his imagination but that their prototypes existed. As a boy he had visited them in their sharecropper shacks on trips in the Georgia countryside with two Wrens doctors and his father, Ira, a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Jeeter, the Lester family patriarch in Tobacco Road, is a beaten-down sharecropper who can no longer get credit to buy the supplies he needs to farm. His family survives, in their crumbling shack, on fat-back rinds and corn meal. Ada, his wife, is wasting away from pellagra; Dude, their 16-year-old son, is a half-wit; Ellie May, their voluptuous 18-year-old daughter, has a gruesome hairlip that makes her “look as if her mouth were bleeding profusely.”