Sunday, August 07, 2022

Hard of hearing #Plein-air

 OK, story time.

Leaving my house this morning to walk to the post office, I see a lady on my neighbor's lawn looking at their house and she turns to me as I am walking toward the sidewalk with a look on her face that says, "I have a question." I approach her and ask, "what's up," and I heard her to say, "I'm looking for a place to pee."
Pondering, for a few seconds, where I might suggest that she relieve herself, besides recommending a group of bushes in the back yard, I realize my bathroom is the only viable solution. I invite her in and give her a tour of the downstairs on the way to the bathroom. She's very complimentary of the decor and expresses a love for the bathroom. Believing she, like most if not all women I know, prefer to attend to their business in private, I wait in the hallway for her to do her business. But when she exits the bathroom after only a couple of minutes, I become a little puzzled, like, really; that's the fastest take down your pants, pee and pull your pants up I've ever been privy too, even for a man. She continues to marvel at the decor as I escort her out and she comments, "Maybe I'll paint your place." At this point, obviously still in a brain fog, I wonder if she actually paints houses or maybe represents a house painting contractor, and I comment. "I admit, the house needs painting this year." I wait for her to make an offer that never comes.
Later, as I leave to drive to the 'burg I notice she has set up an easel on the sidewalk and is painting a picture of my house. When I return from my errands, I approach her and relay to her what I thought she had previously said to prompt me to invite her into my home; "I'm looking for a place to pee." She lets out a hearty laugh and says, "no, what I said was I'm looking for a place to paint."
It's a busy, busy weekend in Morristown and I'd forgotten that the Plein-air was taking place.

May be an image of 2 people, people sitting and outdoors

Monday, July 04, 2022

What's one of your favorite summertime meals?

 My mom, Millie LaRock, was a superb cook. She always put much thought and effort into putting tasty and appealing meals on our table. Growing up, the only food I remember disliking was spinach, cooked spinach. Other than that, I liked everything mom put on the table. I wasn’t a big fan of steak when I was younger, preferring my beef in the burger style. I tell you this as a segway into the following; when I would come home on leave from the military, mom would always ask me, “what can I fix you to eat? what’s your favorite thing?” And, every time, I’d reply, “anything mom, I like everything you fix.”

My favorite summertime meal is a simple, fresh from the garden, tomato sandwich on wholewheat toast with fresh lettuce and slathered with Hellman’s mayonnaise. Coming in a close second would add to that sandwich a couple slices of crisp bacon to create a BLT. Of course, I have to wait ‘til late summer, when the tomatoes are ripening, for that meal. To finish off this late summer meal, I’d look for a generous slice of vine ripened watermelon. Also, the addition of fresh boiled sweet corn on the cob smothered with real butter would add another layer of gustatory delight. Since we are starting this menu in late summer, desert would have to be blueberry pie. Everything washed down with fresh squeezed lemonade.

Summer starts in June however so what to eat while we wait for the garden harvest? How about a lunch of fresh strawberry shortcake and vanilla ice-cream and fresh iced sun tea? For supper we can throw some hamburgers and Glaziers hot dogs on the grill. Ice cold lager goes well with this meal. Recently, lobster has entered my summertime, meals to enjoy, preferably while viewing the Maine coastline.

Of course, the 4th of July brings us to the fireman’s field day and the choices are hot Italian sausage smothered with grilled peppers and onions. Or BBQ’d chicken well marinaded in Grandpa Aubrey’s State Fair Spiedie sauce. accompanied with macaroni salad and if available canned garlic green beans from last year’s garden.

Fall ushers in, Caprese salad with fresh basil. And homemade, fresh from the oven, yeast bread.

With a gin and tonic in hand on a blistering hot summer’s day, I wish you a bon appetite.

Bob LaRock, July 04, 2022

Saturday, May 07, 2022

A Solitary Wanderer # 1; the beginning


Our journey begins in a small hamlet, former village recently dissolved, on a bay along the edges of the mighty St. Lawrence River.  Currently, the year-round population of our little hamlet is just over 300 persons as of 2019.  Although I was not, my dad was born here in 1920, a more populated and prosperous river village of the time.  There was a Railroad depot and stockyard, a ferry to Canada, A milk processing plant, a graphite plant as well as being home to Dr. Morse's "Indian Root Pills."  A K-12 school sits atop the ridge which the village was built on.  A stone Windmill also sits up overlooking the River. There were, at one time, 5 gas stations and at least 3 grocery stores, one of which my grandfather was owner/proprietor, when my dad was born.  Our own U.S. Post office currently occupies the building where my grandfather's store was.  High atop the street leading from the river up and out of the village toward the State highway, on the  left was a hotel/dance hall called Rose Manor.

Today the village is a skeleton of it's former self, retaining only, of the aforementioned, the K-12 school, the stone windmill, the post office, a volunteer fire department, and a fuel and hardware supply store.  Still it retains the ambiance of a neighborly community with a landscape to delight the senses.  

To own or have access to a motorized vehicle of conveyance is a mandatory necessity here if only to enable one to travel the ten or more miles to avail oneself of certain amenities: gasoline, groceries, and healthcare.

I return from a six month hiatus in Florida to find a car with a dead battery, a home with few foodstuffs, and a doctor's appointment in 3 days requiring lab work prior.

Undaunted I proceed;  you know, the old adage concerning life, lemons, and lemonade.  Call a friend who is, BTW, a mechanic, and in a day and a half I have a reliable, drivable vehicle.  I research the local hospital's (12 miles away) website and glean that they have Saturday outpatient lab draws from 7 AM to noon.  Okeydokey, a plan forms; hit the lab at 7 then head to the grocery store and pick up items on my list.  And finally proceed to the nursery to purchase garden supplies.

In the car at 0645.  It starts.  Yay, it's gonna be a good day.  Walk into hospital receiving area;  Young woman asks, "what are you here for today?"

Me: showing her my lab request form, I say, "I'm here for lab work.

young woman: "The lab isn't open on Saturday."

Me: "You may want to mention to the higher ups that they need to update their web site."

Young woman: "Oh, they've been told many times."

Well now, isn't that a fine how-do-you-do?  Now that I've been handed a bowl full of lemons; what to do.  I head over to the grocery store and pick-up supplies.  I only forgot 2 items on my list of 15, which btw, I'd left on the counter a home.

Next, I stop at a local diner for a delicious omelet/wheat toast with tomato juice and coffee.  I skipped the garden center for today.  Now it's home to get ready to attend a local Bluegrass festival in a neighboring small village.

Tomorow we'll pick here, where we left off.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Have you ever been a hero to someone? Has anyone been a hero for you?

 Whether I've ever been a hero to someone is really a story to be told by others not me.  Some would say that being a hospital corpsman on the battlefields of Vietnam might qualify me as a hero.  Having administered in excess of 40,000 anesthetics over a 50-year career as a CRNA has possibly made me a hero in some of my patient's eyes.  Aside from just doing my job, I like to think that the quality that qualified me to be called a hero is my unwavering attempts to alleviate fear and despair in my patients.  I'm not talking about the drugs I administer to that end but the emotional support I provide while interacting with them.

How is that accomplished?  By listening to them and acknowledging their distress and answering their questions with utmost honesty.  While interacting with patients, or people in general for that matter, I like to hold their hand or touch them on the shoulder during our entire conversation; establish a tactile bond.  Maintaining eye contact is extremely important.  Let them know that their concerns and only their concerns are important to you.  You might think that that is what everybody in my situation does but you'd be mistaken on that point.  You may remember an anecdote I relayed in a previous essay where a fellow CRNA said to me, " I didn't go into anesthesia to talk to patients, I went into anesthesia so I wouldn't have to talk to them."

On the battlefield during Operation Starlite while attending to a fellow marine who'd been mortally wounded. I stayed close to him by positioning myself with my leg in constant contact with his right leg and alternately touching him on various parts of his body including a soft touch on his face. While he was screaming saying, "help me Doc, help me, I'm going to die!!! I looked him in the eyes and said, "I right here buddy and you're going to be OK.  You are going home buddy.  I'm going to give you a shot in the leg and your pain will be tolerable in just a few."   After giving him a 1/4 grain of morphine intramuscularly, I began bandaging his multiple wounds.  I noticed his face relax and a sense of comfort filled his face.  And then he died.  Did you say to yourself just now, you lied to him grandpa!?  Did I?  The look on his face showed me that his pain left him, and his fear had dissipated.  And yes, he went home.  Then I moved to the next wounded marine and gave him my full attention all the while a dozen other marines where calling Doc, Doc.  One at a time, full attention, touch them and talk them down.

Fort Campbell Kentucky Christmas Eve 1974, I'm on call for the OR. A call comes in after midnight, car accident, emergency surgery.  One of our nurses who worked the psychiatric ward was returning from a party in Hopkinsville, Kentucky gets in a car accident.  She is in the OR on the table when I arrive; I'm less than 5 minutes from the hospital.  Attaching the monitoring devices, EKG, B/P, pulse oximeter, and a large bore IV is the first order of business.  The patient says, "Bob, am I going to die?"  Placing both hand on either side of her face, I say, "Janet, nobody dies on Bob LaRock, we're going to fix you up right away and I'll be your guardian angel through it all, OK?"  Her vital signs are dangerous: extremely low B/P, and tachycardia.  The surgeon, by way of hand signals, indicates, Let's go, let's go.  After administering a small amount of intravenous anesthetic and providing 100% oxygen she slips off to neverland saying, "thanks bob, I'm glad your here."  The surgeon makes the abdominal incision and quarts of blood immediately flow out from her belly.  I start another 14 gauge IV in her other arm and start pumping blood in both IVs as fast as physics will allow.  So much blood in the belly that the surgeon can't find the source of bleeding.  Cardiac arrest.  Open cardiac massage, continue rapid infusion of blood.  Heartbeat returns, B/P 60/20.  This scenario repeats itself 3 more times.  Still the surgeon fails to find the bleeding.  On the 4th cardiac arrest, we fail to resuscitate her.  She's dead.  Of course, the bleeding stops. The surgeon finds that the Hepatic vein was ruptured and separated from the posterior liver.  There was never a chance that we would save her.  Did I lie to her?  Yes, I did, and I would again.  Infact the exact same scenario played out the following Christmas Eve, and yes, I was on call and yes, I lied to her too.

All surgery is frightening to the patient.  Attempting to allay those fears is my primary goal.  If that makes me a hero well then for many, I guess I'm a hero.

Depending on how you define it, I have many heroes.  I'll confine this essay to two.  In keeping with the foregoing examples, I'm fourteen, a freshman in high school and I get an attack of appendicitis.  I have a fever and an 8 out of 10 pain level.  I'm in the hallway just outside the operating room and scared shitless.  A woman in a white dress and a hat covering her hair meets me when I arrive.  "Hi, I'm Bernadette Sovie.  I'm going to put some medicine in your IV to help take away your pain, OK?"  She injects some drug, Demerol I think, and stays by my side chatting, asking me my name, how old am I, where do I live, where do I go to school etc. etc..  Soon I'm feeling better and say, "can I go home now?"  She chuckles, puts her hand on my shoulder and says, "in a few minutes I'm going to wheel you into the operating room, it'll be cold but I'll cover you with a warm blanket.  Then once you're comfortable I'll check your blood pressure and I'll put some more medicine in your IV like I did a couple of minutes ago and you'll fall asleep, OK?"  I nod.  "After you're asleep, Doctor Loughren will remove that nasty appendix from your belly.  I'll be with you the whole time and keep you safe, OK?"  "Okay" I respond.  She never leaves me alone, wheels me into the operating room where staff lift me off the gurney and lay me on the OR table.  She covers me with a warm blanket, all the while asking me more questions about my life.  After placing a wrap on my arm which gets excruciatingly tight for a few minutes, she asks, "do you have a paper route?"  I don't remember if I answered or not, because unbeknownst to me, she is injecting Sodium Pentothal into my IV.  I wake up puking in a bed, in the ward for patients after surgery, with dad by my side.

The next time I encountered Bernadette, I was a 24 year-old brand new nurse starting my career as an OR nurse in the very same OR where I had my appendectomy.  I observed her administering anesthesia there for the next year.  She treated every single patient that came under her care with the same care and demeanor she applied with me that scary time 10 years previous.  After 1 year, and with advice and encouragement from Bernadette, I enrolled in Albany Medical Center's school of nurse anesthesia.  I tied my darndest to become a nurse anesthetist she role modeled to me.  I like to think I succeeded, but that will be for the multitude of student nurse anesthetists I taught along the way to tell.  To me, Bernadette Sovie epitomizes the definition of Hero.

My, now deceased, brother, Jeffery Michael LaRock is my hero.  Jeff was the standard bearer of love.  In his too short life he gave more love than he received.  I will never be able to reach the level of selfless caring he offered to everyone he encountered.  From the day he was born he endeavored to please.  He was no saint by any measure.  Still, his heart was what grandpa Walton would refer to as "a giving heart."  Being 10 years older than Jeff, I didn't have much time to give to my annoying kid brother.  By the way, his hero, I can say without doubt, was Aunt Nellie.  He tried daily to be my best friend.  Sometimes I think that because of his ardor for his big brother was the reason mom tried to make me his "father."  She asked me many times to intercede to guide him and set him on the straight path just because he would do whatever i implored him to do.  I left his life when he was seven and when I returned he was off pursuing his grown-up life.  A long stretch of his life was spent in Nevada and we didn't get to enjoy time together.  He called me often from Las Vegas, I never called him.  We talked for hours and he would regale me with tales of his adventures and he delighted in making me laugh 'til my sides ached.  Our calls always left me uplifted, and that was his aim.    When he returned to live out his remaining years in Ogdensburg and environs we would meet, at least, monthly at a local diner for breakfast.  He was the only person in my life that I could be completely honest with.  I never felt the need to embellish, exaggerate or be less than honest with him, because he was a superb listener who withheld criticism, if he even had any, and was my chief consoler.  I have many regrets about my relationship with Jeff. in particular my lack of trying to emulate his giving nature.  He offered many lesson in that regard, but unfortunately, I was a poor student.  he lived his life always endeavoring to please.  he accepted his coming death with equanimity and I hope I can get an A+ from that lesson when my turn comes up..  He is my hero because he was a caring compassionate soul.

So how about you all:  who are your heroes?

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

It's OK


A lifetime ago two saplings briefly transplanted in a foreign land

Their roots entwined in a primative hostel on an island 

She whispered; “ It’s OK.”

Instantly a band of love, to last all of their lifetime entwined his heart

Not constrictive nor restricting but a cocoon of encompassing passion

A time capsule to be rediscovered decades in the future.

A parting gift of seeds of grass imbedded on a yarn wrapped card, framed

Would be his link to remind him of their bond

Even as they drifted along different paths to build new and fulfilling lives.

Over that thread of ardor, seemingly impossible, a reconnection through the ether

Holding each other’s invisible hands, exchanging tentative remembrances

Hoping the roots of their aging trees can one more time say, It’s OK.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Writer’s Digest contest; what was the pivotal point in your writing

 I’m a writer by avocation.  As such, it’s an extension of my life long love of reading.  My foray into writing began in earnest when I started a blog in 2006,  dabbling in all forms of poetry writing, short stories, and responding to prompts.  I started a novel early on for National Novel Writing Month which currently languishes unfinished at 50,000 words on my book shelf.  Later I delved into writing a memoir/historical fiction work to compare my great grandfather’s Civil War experience with my time in the Viet Nam War.  With only numerous note pads of research, that too is in the unfinished category.

On Christmas this year I received “Storyworth” from my oldest granddaughter and that has been the pivotal moment in my writing endeavors.  Her purpose in giving that gift was an attempt to overcome that age old dilemma of wishing after a grandparent died that they would have asked so many questions about their growing up years.  Every week one of my grandchildren or my children pose a question to me.  I have faithfully replied to each question, mining my memory banks ruthlessly.  I now see a memoir coming to completion. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

What novel or writer has influenced you the most?

 This question has been more difficult to formulate an answer to, than all the previous, because deciding on one book or author is like deciding which of your children is your favorite. I was immediately reminded of an Erma Bombeck column published in 1971, “I’ve always loved you best.” In 2006 I published Bombeck’s column on my blog; under the microscope (

As I began to peruse my memory bank of the many books I’ve read, trying to decide which influenced me the most, I came to the realization that just as my life itself has multidimensional aspects, so too then does my reading. Therefore, one book, which devotes itself to environmental issues, might standout but would not be more important than say a favorite book and author dealing with hypnosis, or anesthesia, or writing, acting, singing, kayaking, or physical fitness overall.

Before I get more organized here with my thoughts, here’s an example of the diversity in reading material that influenced my life while serving in Vietnam: 1. The King James Bible (various authors.) 2. King Rat by James Clavell, 1962. and 3. Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller by Burke Davis, 1962.

I’ve forgotten when I first learned to read. Sorta like trying to remember when I started walking, but I suspect it was early on. I have a vague recollection of the Dick and Jane series of books and the catechism booklet I tried to memorize for Sunday School. Of course, I was surrounded by books in my growing up home and raised by avid reading parents. However, I don’t remember my parents ever reading stories to me like is so common today, that’s not to say that they didn’t, just that I have forgotten if they did.

During my school years, mom didn’t get up to fix my breakfast. That was my responsibility. Not that pouring cereal, milk and sugar into a bowl was a difficult task. I mention it only to relate the fact that this time of my day was always devoted to reading while eating my breakfast in the quiet of our kitchen while mom and dad slept.

Let’s start detailing my reading experience with novels of fiction since they were my escape from the stressful world of learning reading, writing and ‘rithmatic. In order of remembered importance: Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan series. “Roy Rockwood’s” Bomba the Jungle Boy series. And Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Then came Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (reread numerous times even in adulthood.) These stories fueled my fantasies and provided respite during my growing up struggles even into today. RLS’s Ivanhoe has been read many times also. In the same vein and not to be forgotten is Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robinhood, and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Of course, I was introduced early on to the genre of science fiction by Jules Verne’s, 1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Followed later in my life by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. Which led into the fantasy genre with Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Not a complete list, by any means, of my taste in fictional escapism but a sampler of my areas of interest. The list could easily include the authors; Diane Gabaldon, Ken Follett, Ian Flemming, and a few Stephen King novels. Perhaps I should include Shakespear here, whom I was introduced to in high school, but more about him when I get to books about writing and literature in general.

Next let’s make a transition of sorts from the realm of Fantasy and science fiction via King Arthur and the knights of the round table by Roger Lancelyn Green and Mary Stewart’s “The Crystal Cave;” one book in her trilogy dealing with Merlin the magician, to the clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. In the late 1960s my mother lent me a book, “The Sleeping Prophet,” by Thomas Sugrue. I was so intrigued and captivated by this biography of Edgar Cayce that I read 6 or more books either by or about Cayce. In addition, I read “Search for the girl with the Blue Eyes,” by Jess Stearn which is also predicated on our past lives communicating with our present lives. My fascination with this concept of regression and clairvoyance served as a transition/ motivator, some 10 years later, into becoming a hypnotist.

Reading for entertainment, escapism and enlightenment took a hiatus in the early 70s when I undertook intense study to become a nurse anesthetist. You may have surmised by the preceding list of literary preferences that I’m first and foremost a dreamer. To that end, I admit that academic pursuits in middle school and throughout high school came in a distant 3rd in my priorities. That, just to say, I had extremely poor study habits. Although I studied seriously enough in registered nurse school to graduate valedictorian of my class, I must confess that nursing school came fairly easy to me as a result of my hospital corpsman training in the Navy and Marine Corps. Fortune smiled broadly on me by leading me into the healthcare field.

Anesthesia school, on the other hand was, and remains the biggest learning challenge of my life and my desire to be successful drove me into the books with a fervor never before or since to be demonstrated by me. I lived, breathed and slept anesthesia literature. I won’t list any of the texts that I poured over on my way to graduating valedictorian of my anesthesia class, but if I must provide a definitive answer to your question, “What novel or writer has influenced you the most? ” I would say, Dripps/Eckenhoff/Vandam: Introduction to Anesthesia. I know, it’s not a novel but it was the door to the longest portion of my life thus far.

Move along now to the late 70s, I’m employed as a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) by my hometown hospital. A fellow CRNA asked me if I would be interested in attending a conference on hypnosis as an opportunity to earn required continuing education credits. I replied that I didn’t believe in that hocus pocus malarky and was wondering how such a conference ever got approved by our parent association, AANA. As a way to convince me otherwise he told of an anesthesia school classmate of his who was currently working only as a hypnotist in Philadelphia, Pa. and not doing anesthesia at all. My friend showed me the course curriculum in hypnosis that his friend had given to him. As I read it over my concept/bias was challenged and I thought, “this is just a course in verbology and semantics that has been significantly researched as a way to use one’s own mind and thoughts to bring about behavioral change. I was intrigued enough to take a trip down to our local library and borrow some books on hypnosis. After reading these books I became a believer and agreed to sign up for the course. I let my friend borrow the library books that I had read. A week or so later when I inquired of my friend whether he had sent in his registration, I had already submitted my own, he said no, he decided he wasn’t going to go. Flabbergasted, since it was his idea for us to go initially, I asked him to explain. He said something like; “after I read those books you borrowed from the library, I realized that hypnosis was all about talking to the patient. I went into anesthesia so I wouldn’t have to talk to patients!” I went; three different times over three years and to different courses as a matter of fact. And I incorporated hypnosis into my practice quite successfully.

We’re talking books here Bob!! Right. I have read and utilized numerous books on, about, relating to hypnosis over 40 years. The two most influential books in this genre, for me, are “Hypnotherapy,” by Dave Elman and “Neuro-linguistic programing” by Bandler and Grinder. (Erikson’s literature relating to hypnosis was and is invaluable.) actually, Bandler and Grinder had 2 books out; I’m referring to “Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programing.”

Attempting to stay somewhat chronological here, or not, I’ll go back to 1972. While stationed at Fort Campbell Kentucky, in the U.S. Army as a CRNA I continued my lifelong habit of visiting libraries. On one such occasion while aimlessly browsing I picked up a magazine titled Organic Gardening and farming by Robert Rodale. Bingo, hook line and sinker, I was an instant, and remain to this day an organic gardener. Believe me, you do not have enough years left in your life to read all the books, pamphlets, magazines and gardening related literature that I have consumed. In conjunction I also stumbled across Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” Again, I became an advocate of sustainable lifestyle committed to making as little negative impact on my postage stamp area of planet earth as possible. Another book you may want to read, if this Organic, sustainable living lifestyle appeals to you, is “Living the Good Life how to Live Sanely and Simply in a troubled World.” I can’t say this book was “influential”, but it was sure a pleasure to read again and again. A more recent novel I finished that will steep you into the heart of that 60s generational desire to save the planet, read Richard Power’s “The Overstory.” I recommend this story to the highest degree I can; I actually told my physical therapy aide at the time that this is the greatest book I’ve ever read. Upon reflection that may be a little overboard but still, I loved that story. And if you really get interested in that time, culture and lifestyle then James Michner’s “The Drifters” is a must read.

I know I said I’d stick to chronological format but the next two areas I want to cover will diverge because I want to deal with war last.

Writing, since you’re this far into this novel I want to tell a little anecdote relating to my career and an avocation.
In 7th or 8th grade we were administered a series of aptitude test with the purpose of directing our curriculum courses, in our high school years, towards areas of interest/competence. When my mother received a communication from the school with the results of my testing and read me the results I was not pleased. It said that my test results indicated that I would make a good journalist or nurse. I’ll save that story for another time, using it here as a semi-comical way of segueing into my writing avocation.

In May of 2006 I started blogging as a way to hone my writing skills and perhaps launch me onto a path to write a memoir/novel about me and my great-grandfather’s wartime experiences. At that time blogging was just a precursor for today’s Facebook; people of common interests coming together and sharing their commonality by writing, submitting and critiquing each other’s submissions. As an offshoot of that endeavor, I was lured into the world of poetry and poetry writing. Any success I may be credited with as pertains to my blog writing can be attributed to suggestions of two authors; “The Ode Less Traveled,” by Stephen Fry, and Stephen King’s, “On Writing: A memoir of the craft.” Since the word memoir popped up here, I’ll plug Mary Karr’s “The Art of Memoir.” and while we’re here she also wrote a personal 3 volume memoir: “the Liar’s Club,” “Cherry,” and “Lit.”
A superb novel about writing is, again, James Michner’s “The Novel.”

If I list a book here, be assured I’ve read it a least once and it made a profound impact on me.

I’m almost done, I promise. Before I get to war literature, here’s a list of influential writers and perhaps an example of their writing in no particular order, that had profound influence on the way I’ve come to interpret my world:1. George Orwell’s “1984.”
2. John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”
3. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol
4. Edgar Allen Poe
5. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince.”
6. Ernest Hemmingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”
7. Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”
8. Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose.”
9. Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”
10. Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” and “A Jury of her Peers.”
11. Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild.”
12.James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans.”

The most profound influence, if only short lived, on my life was and is the Viet Nam War. If you want to know about war, read Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage.” The way to experience the Viet Nam war without having been there or even if you have is to read Tim O’Briens’s “The things they carried.” and Fred Tomasello Jr.’s “Walking Wounded. A Memoir of a Combat Veteran.”

This is an infinitesimally small sliver of a list of books I’ve read. Suffice it to say that if I finish a book, and it’s rare that I don’t, it has influenced how I view and interact with my world. Even if its value was but to carry me away and rest my soul.

And Shakespear? Well leave it as this; I’m a thespian at heart and all