Spiders Big Catch
When I was in college, Spider McGee, Charlie Fox, and I loved to fish off the log boom in the river near my house on summer afternoons. We'd sit and talk about life, drink hot chocolate, and occasionally catch a fish or two. But one day, Spider yelled, "Hey, I got something, and it feels big!"
Catching any fish-of any size-was always a surprise, but hooking something big was reason for genuine excitement. As Spider began to reel, his pole bent almost in half.
"This thing is a monster," he said, the drag on his reel screaming.
After twenty minutes or so, he'd gotten it close enough to the boom to get a glimpse of his catch. It was a snapping turtle.
"Ah, man, that's too bad," said Charlie. "I thought maybe you had Old Granddad there, for a second. Cut the line and let him go."
"Are you crazy?" said Spider. "That lure was given to my dad by his grandfather. It was hand-carved in Norway-and he doesn't even know I borrowed it! I gotta get it back."
"Well, how're you gonna do that?" I asked-and was soon sorry I had.
"I'll just bring him up to the edge of the boom, and you guys reach out and grab it," Spider said calmly.
Now, I'm dumb, but I'm not stupid.
I said, "No, no, no-you bring him to the edge of the boom, and then I'll try to pry the lure loose with a stick."
"OK, that'll work," said Spider.
As Spider struggled to bring the turtle close to the edge of the boom, Charlie handed me a long stick. I reached out, and the turtle's jaws instantly clamped down on the stick. I lifted him out of the water, and we headed toward the bank.
Once on shore, we set the angry turtle on the ground, but he refused to let go of the stick, the lure still dangling from the corner of his mouth. I reached out with my tennis shoe to nudge him in the back, and instantly learned several interesting things about snapping turtles. First, they're not as slow as you might think, second, they're very agile, and third, they're well-named.
In a heartbeat, the turtle's neck shot out, reached completely behind him, and bit through the end of my sneaker. Then, spitting out rubber and nylon, he turned and looked at us menacingly.
"OK, we need a new plan," said Spider.
"And a new pair of shoes," I added, looking down at my big toe, which was now plainly visible through the hole in my shoe.
"You hold his head down with the stick, and I'll reach out and grab the lure," Spider said.
It was an insane plan, but it was still a step in the right direction, I thought. At least, there wouldn't be any parts of my anatomy at risk this time. I took the stick and pinned the turtle's head to the ground while Spider got down on his belly and crept slowly toward the angry, struggling turtle.
It was then I learned even more lessons about snapping turtles. First, their front feet can be used a lot like a pair of hands, and second, snapping turtles are much stronger than you might think.
The turtle reached up and quickly pushed the stick away and quickly raised his head-now leaving him face-to-face with a very surprised Spider McGee.
The big guy screamed, which was probably the best thing to do at the time, since it caused the startled turtle to reach up with a front foot, pop the lure from its mouth, and then it whirl around and head back toward the river.
While all that was going on, the lure leapt through the air and finally came to rest-firmly lodged in Spider's left ear. He danced around in pain, but we finally managed to pin him down and cut the line from the lure. Then we packed up and loaded him into the car.
All the way home, Charlie and I would occasionally look back at poor Spider, sitting like a sad puppy in the back seat and wearing what looked like a giant hand-carved, bug-eyed earring. Then we'd look at each other-and laugh.
All that happened more than 30 years ago, and although Spider didn't know it at the time, he was a trendsetter. He was the first guy I ever knew to wear an earring, even if he'd had to get his ear pierced by a snapping turtle to do it.
I'm pretty sure they have easier ways of doing that nowadays.
From the book Spider's Big Catch
Gary E. Anderson
© Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
About The Author
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, and manuscript analyst, living on a small Iowa farm. He's published more than 500 articles and four books. He's also ghosted a dozen books, edited more than 30 full-length manuscripts, produced seven newsletters, and has done more than 800 manuscript reviews for various publishers around the nation. If you need writing or editing help, visit Gary's website at www.abciowa.com" target="_new">www.abciowa.com.
King County (WA) Library System, the nation's top digital-circulating library has said it will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers' two-month embargo begins next month.
In her note, executive director Lisa Rosenblum said King County's decision was ultimately driven by two reasons: one "pragmatic" and the other "principled." ...
As for the pragmatic side, Rosenblum explained that King County has pledged to readers to limit the wait time for any title to around 3 months. "Not allowing us to purchase multiple copies of an e-book for two months artificially lengthens the queue, triggering more of the same title to be purchased than would have occurred if we had been allowed to buy for the first two months," ...
The "principled" argument, Rosenblum says, is to send a message to other publishers that public libraries cannot accept limits on basic access. To do so, she writes, would "profoundly" change the public library.
By any measure in publishing, cartoonist Dav Pilkey is a rock star. The children's author created his characters Captain Underpants (a superhero for grade-schoolers) and Dog Man (a hound-supercop) while an Ohio second-grader, sitting alone in the hall during class as a result of his ADHD.
Now Pilkey is 53, and "Dog Man" — a franchise that has sold millions — is perched atop the New York Times bestsellers list for children's series, while "Captain Underpants" is at No. 8 (both books have sat on the list for years)....
The judges of this year's Booker prize have "explicitly flouted" the rules of the august literary award to choose the first joint winners in almost 30 years: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.
The chair of judges, Peter Florence, emerged after more than five hours with the jury to reveal that the group of five had been unable to pick a single winner from their shortlist of six. Instead, despite being told repeatedly by the prize's literary director, Gaby Wood, that they were not allowed to split the £50,000 award, they chose two novels: Atwood's The Testaments, a follow-up to her dystopian The Handmaid's Tale, and Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, which is told in the voices of 12 different characters, mostly black women.
Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal The Anxiety of Influence and melancholy regard for literature's old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89.
In response to Jennine Capó Crucet's talk on the Statesboro, Ga., campus Wednesday, where she focused her discussion on white privilege, students gathered at a grill and torched her novel "Make Your Home Among Strangers" — about a first-generation Cuban American woman struggling to navigate a mostly white elite college.
Yesterday, The Nobel committee announced the winners of both the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. The 2018 prize having been canceled last year due to controversy. Over to Ron Charles at The Washington Post
...Two years ago, the husband of one of the academy's members was accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and eventually convicted of rape. The ensuing scandal tore apart the committee, exposing a history of lax regulation, a deep well of bad judgment and a vein of misogyny. Some members resigned, others refused to participate. The Nobel Foundation, which funds the award, raised serious concerns about the committee's governance. The future of the literature prize seemed imperiled...
And then came Thursday's announcement of the winners of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes in literature. The big test: an opportunity to show that the committee members could, in fact, carry on Alfred Nobel's vague instructions to select "the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction."
First, the 2018 prize was awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk for what the judges praised as "a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life."
But then the other shoe — or jackboot — dropped, and any celebration of Tokarczuk's work was hijacked by a fresh controversy: The Swedish Academy awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in literature to Peter Handke. He's a controversial Austrian writer known for his sympathy for the late Yugoslavia leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide. Handke not only attended that butcher's funeral, he delivered a eulogy...
... This is no way to demonstrate good judgment or to regain trust. It's just another tone-deaf stunt by a group of Swedish snobs who command a disproportionate and undeserved wedge of the world's attention.
Update 10/17: Writing an opinion piece in the New York Times
, Bret Stephens argues that "we live in an age that is losing the capacity to distinguish art from ideology and artists from politics."
The Swedish Academy announced this morning two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: Peter Handke, the Austrian author, playwright and translator, wins the 2019 prize, and Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish novelist and poet, wins the 2018 prize, which was not bestowed last year because of a scandal involving sexual assault allegations and financial impropriety involving the Academy.
Handke was cited by the Swedish Academy for "an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience."
Tokarczuk was cited for "a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life."
Controversy over Handke's award immediately broke out. See 10/11 news post for more on this.
The twenty-five Finalists for the 2019 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature (YPL) were announced today. The five Finalists in each category were selected by a distinguished panel of literary experts, and were advanced from the Longlists announced in September. Between the five categories, there are four writers who have been previously honored by the National Book Awards: Akwaeke Emezi, a 5 Under 35 Honoree in 2018, Toi Derricotte, a Literarian Award recipient in 2016 for her work with Cave Canem, Jason Reynolds, a 2016 YPL Finalist and 2017 YPL Longlister, and Laura Ruby, a 2015 YPL Finalist. Four of the twenty-five Finalists are debuts. ... The Winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 20 at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner.
The New York Times has just published a powerful article on how governments across the globe are spending a remarkable amount of resources attacking books. Because this is an important article and many BookBrowse readers may be blocked from reading the full piece by the newspaper's paywall, here are four of the most salient paragraphs:
…Regimes are expending so much energy attacking books because their supposed limitations have begun to look like strengths: With online surveillance, digital reading carries with it great risks and semi-permanent footprints; a physical book, however, cannot monitor what you are reading and when, cannot track which words you mark or highlight, does not secretly scan your face, and cannot know when you are sharing it with others….
…During the Cold War that followed, the federal government established a network of 181 libraries and reading rooms in over 80 countries. In 1955, specially-made lightweight copies of Animal Farm were flown from West Germany into Poland by balloon. The unifying principle — despite the terrible hypocrisy of Jim Crow — was that freedom of thought abroad would ultimately favor the spread of tolerant, free liberal democracies…
…The tepid response of the Trump administration to the murder and dismemberment of the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi is just the most egregious example of why the global defense of freedom of the press and speech is no longer an American priority. The State Department has made barely a peep about any of this. Perhaps it should come as no surprise coming from a president who is almost comically boastful about his antipathy to reading…
The consequences of America standing by apathetically could be disastrous — particularly if Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, remain in power for another four years. In classic dystopian novels of the near-future — Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 — the digital world is ubiquitous. The ghostly absence of books, and the freethinking they seed, is the nightmare. For much of the world, it's not an impossible fate
Penguin Random House Audio has released a free, 30-minute audio reading of The Whistle-Blower Complaint. It was recorded by Saskia Maarleveld, a professional audiobook narrator.