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Michael
04-20-2009, 09:58 AM
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I was 12 when Nevile Shute's "On the Beach" was a popular novel. In 1960 there was a sub rosa fear of Russian bombers dropping nukes on us. Many people were building fallout shelters in backyards, but none would admit foreboding.

We read "On the Beach" aloud in class, everyone read a paragraph and then passed the book back. What a sad and depressing novel for 6th graders to read! There were many class discussions of the theme, the dominant idea being that Jesus would come again and that would be that.

We also read Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie" in the same fashion. A not much more optimistic book, "Travels with Charlie!" As an aside, I sometimes substitute in the local high school. We are discouraged from asking students to read aloud, since so many in the 10th through 12th grades cannot read at all! Steinbeck was 58 and dying in 1960, and "Travels with Charlie," was serialized to us is some way or another, memory fails.

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Thomas MacNally "Mr Mac" (dead since 1988) was a survivor of the Great Depression and World War II, and thought Steinbeck a great folk hero! In the clarity of the rear view mirror, looking back almost fifty years, I belatedly realize that Mr Mac was a secret communist!

Fast forward to 1973. The Vietnam war had ended and I was displeased with the outcome! The twenty-five year old me would look back of the twelve year old me with the sense of wonder that Cicero had for the Vestals, or Plato had for his slaves chained in the cave. I had discovered that the US Army and the war in Vietnam were together a magical machine that via one 24 hour jet ride could erase the nastiness of disastrous love affairs and other familial obligations! Three tours! Two Purple Hearts! Beau Jeste!


I was assigned to Thailand (a country I cordially despise) with little to do in the monsoon, (perhaps it was just a monsoon of the soul?).
So I went to the base library and rediscovered Nevile Shute, or more properly Neville Shute Norway.

So I locked myself away with "In the Wet."

Ah, what a wonderful trip was "In the Wet."

I think that these wikipedia references are safe and reliable, but with wikipedia it is hard to know.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neville_Shute

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_(novel)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travels_With_Charley

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Wet

ee
04-20-2009, 05:54 PM
I liked Travels with Charlie a lot.

I looked up Nevil Shute. "A successful aeronautical engineer". Hey, I like that.

"An engineer is a man who can make something for five bob that any bloody fool can make for a quid!"

I like this guy. LOL