How come you’ve got children?

How do you mean?

 

Well, if you’re set on being an English travel writer in the high style, what you clearly don’t do – like Patrick Leigh Fermor, Freya Stark or Colin Thubron – is have children. You’ve got two, I see from your biography.

And a dog.  I suppose travel’s become such a commonplace that we naturally fit it into our lives rather than make it its glorious focus, which might fairly describe, say, Freya Stark’s approach.  You’re right that it makes a difference, one that’s largely to do with compromise; while preparing my latest book, Meander, a lot of negotiation was involved before I felt I had my family’s blessing to travel for a full month at a time when my girls were just 7 and 11. The question is whether the book would have better one if I had travelled without such time constraints.

 

Trowel was a Turkish word I didn’t know, so I improvised. Hardly had I requested a pocket-sized spade, however, before the ironmonger’s eyes were narrowing to wary slits. It had not crossed my mind that laying my hands on a trowel might present a problem in a place like Dinar. How but with trowels had the chillies, peppers and aubergines that ran amok in the scruffy little town’s kitchen gardens been planted? What of the geraniums that bloomed in rusty cooking oil tins at the foot of whitewashed walls? The potted pine saplings that stood in long rows at the state railway’s nursery opposite the station? And the apple and cherry orchards that blossomed across the springtime plains west of the town? Dinar was where Turkey’s fertile western lowlands, liberally watered by the Meander’s springs, ran up against the plateau interior to breed a last-ditch growing fervour among the locals – but one that their ironmonger did not appear to share.

Campus sits west of the Chicago river, at the circle interchange of the Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways.  In the 60s UIC wedged its way into and consumed Chicago’s Little Italy, grew tentacles into the near west and south sides.  At one time called Circle Campus after the knot of concrete ramps where the two arteries bisect, it was built similarly of concrete in a style called Brutalism, emulating Soviet public housing, “riot proof,” with double-layer covered walkways akin to parking garages, an open-air amphitheater and massive concrete wheelchair ramps to 2nd floor entries reiterating the circle motif.  A miniature replica of an Eastern Bloc city, and likewise now with crumbling concrete, permanent scaffolding erected to protect students and faculty milling on (and off) grass lined footpaths under trees that replaced the severe web of covered walkways in the 90s.  The circular quad in front of 24-story University Hall underwent a decade-long project (that should’ve taken about a year) to add grassy knolls, flowered borders, and (perhaps a reminder of Brutalism) tile-lined fountains that rarely run because they’re broken.  But I walk campus without envy for Northwestern, University of Chicago, DePaul, or Loyola.  They have tradition, bigger trees, a vine-covered brick building probably called “Old Main.”  We have Brutalism.  It’s where part of me –  a native Californian – lives, has lived for almost 20 years.

Tear gas, for the uninitiated, really does make you cry.

And not in the gradual fashion of an organic cry, with the palpable build-up of liquid emotion that your body ultimately can’t contain and spills out onto your cheeks, your shirt, your lover’s shoulder.

Pennies A Day

By Alan Brouilette

Food

The Northwest chapters of the Slow Food organization want you to help save the heirloom turkey. Similar to the ubiquitous heirloom tomatoes, there are old-fashioned varieties of the turkey still raised in the United States. If you are interested in an American Bronze turkey for Thanksgiving this year, you have to place your order with Slow Food by April 1.”

This put anybody besides me in mind of the old Sally Struthers TV spots urging you to adopt a Third-World child?  The ones that promised “a photo and a letter once a month,” detailing progress and thanking you for your support?

You’ll find decades-long repressed memories dislodged in Micheline Aharonian Marcom’s The Daydreaming Boy, where eyebright prose perfectly puts across a distressed narrator’s unrestrained thoughts. Orphaned in the midst of Turkey’s massacre of the Armenians, Vahé Tcheubjianthrough descriptions of unfulfilling trysts, brutal flashbacks, disturbing dreams, bizarre encounters with a monkey at the zoo, and imagined conversations with the mother who abandoned himconfronts his denials and ultimately challenges his very identity. Mirrors are Vahé’s tools for examining his past and its resultant pain, but it is the warped reflections of funhouse mirrors that he ultimately sees: distortions abound: here one stretches, this one condenses, and still another magnifies.