After retiring from teaching full-time in , Williamson spent some time concentrating on his writing, but after being named Professor Emeritus by ENMU, he was coaxed back to co-teach two evening classes, "Creative Writing" and "Fantasy and Science Fiction" he pioneered the latter at ENMU during his full-time professorship days. Williamson continued to co-teach these two classes into the 21st century.
Despite his age, he had made an appearance at the Spring Jack Williamson Lectureship and published a page novel, The Stonehenge Gate , in Breuer, M. In the s, an amateur historian started drawing an inventory and had found ancient editions of works by Aristotle, Homer, and the Roman playwright Terence. Especially valuable were 10 incunabula — rare books printed before , during the earliest years of the printing press. Sermons by Augustine, bound in sow skin, from Three Latin Bibles, printed in Basel and Strasbourg. Works by the Roman poet Virgil, printed in in Nuremberg. A Bible commentary by Peter Lombard, a 12th-century Italian scholar.
Now one was missing. On the lower shelf where they were supposed to line up, there was an empty space. Buntz scurried out of the room. She bumped into Charles Diss, 61, the director of Mont Sainte-Odile, a short man with an affable face and protruding ears. Diss was rattled.
The library was accessible to some of the 60 employees, as well as to groups of 30 worshippers taking turns in adoration of the Eucharist, a tradition going back to the years following World War I. Buntz and Diss drove the weaving road downhill to file a complaint with the local police station. For a moment, they thought that things would be left at that.
The door was often left unlocked, after all. It appeared that only one book had been stolen, or simply borrowed by a fervent but dreamy pilgrim, and not returned. No additional security measures were taken. But when Buntz entered the library one day in November, just a few months later, the remaining incunabula were gone. The empty shelf stared grimly at her like an open wound. The gendarmes began an investigation and soon roamed the area. He had walked back to the car two hours later, carrying two bags full of nine heavy incunabula, according to previously undisclosed police records.
The lock on the library door was replaced with a sturdier one, and access to the room restricted. For months, there was no further pilfering. It was a relief. Life continued. In the fall of , Diss, the head of the site for 23 years, was succeeded by Alain Donius, a bespectacled, disheveled priest of No one told him about the thefts. The matter was considered closed. W hile the monks breathed easy, the thief enjoyed his new books. At night, in his tiny flat in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, in the suburbs of Strasbourg, year-old bachelor Stanislas Gosse tapped into his knowledge of Latin to read the stolen texts.
There was a 19th-century volume reproducing plates from the Hortus Deliciarum , a 12th-century encyclopedia that had been lost in a fire. Flipping through the pages, one saw the seeds of Christianity sprout and unfold. Miniatures showed Jonah crawling out of the jaws of the monster, a giant fish with its head a glowing red. The Three Kings followed the Star of Bethlehem, and a bearded King David sat on his throne musing, a harp tucked between his hands. Did reading these books produce the same joy Gosse felt playing the organ at church?
He had found them covered with dust and bird droppings. He had found himself a mission. He would save the texts from decay and oblivion. In ninth grade, his Latin teacher, a bibliophile, had taken his class to the library of the Grand Seminary of Strasbourg, where the spines of 5, ancient books glowed under the artificial light in countless shades of dull yellow, pearl-gray and purplish red.
Equally bewitching was Mont Sainte-Odile.
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Gosse was 3 years old when he had first laid eyes on the secluded mount and scampered around the Pagan Wall enclosing it, a kilometer long wall made of large stones covered with moss. His father, a military officer, took him there often, and as an adult Gosse visited the site every year. He was raised Catholic, and Alain Donius, the priest who became the head of Sainte-Odile in , had taught him catechism as a boy. When Gosse first peered inside the library in , he was enchanted.
He would come back. In August , he walked up the stairs to the library and found the door open. He came back a few days later, riding his bicycle in the summer heat. He made his way to the library. His hand felt for a latch through the loose chicken wire covering the bookcase doors. He picked six books, including a 15th-century Bible, and one incunabulum.
Later, Gosse went to the national library in Strasbourg to read about what he had appropriated. He found the library door open. Gosse, who declined to be interviewed for this story, described the thefts to the investigators with a wealth of details, but the interrogation records fail to mention how he felt perpetrating them. By his own account, he left around midnight, driving away in the cold night.
For several months, it seems, Gosse was content with the books he had collected. In the summer of , however, he went back again. This time, he found the door closed and locked. Would it stop him? He returned the next day with a hand drill. How thick was the door, he wondered, and could he pick the lock? After drilling a 3-millimeter hole, he gave up. He was no professional thief, after all.
He had to find another way in. This time, it hit her like a blow. Hundreds of books were missing. The door and the windows showed no signs of forced entry. Some mysterious force had found a way into the very heart of the holy site. Unless it was an inside job. One of the two priests, perhaps?
One of the 10 nuns? One of the employees? Could it possibly have been the work of Donius, the new director?
After all, not everyone had welcomed him with open arms. Everyone was a suspect. Access to the library had already been restricted to a handful of people. Dietrich had changed the lock for a stronger one. Buntz had even relinquished her key, to prove her good faith. Would they ever be found? Had they already been thrown into the Rhine, or sold to art smugglers in the Netherlands or Belgium? This was the lead pursued by the investigators, and art dealers across Europe had been asked to keep an eye out for specific books.
They could only hope for a miracle. O n May 19, near 7 p. He brought ropes, three suitcases, gray plastic bags and a flashlight. Once inside the main courtyard, he headed straight to the second floor of the Sainte-Odile aisle of the guesthouse. He tied the ropes to a wooden beam above a trapdoor in the floor and climbed down into a dark, windowless room of about 10 feet by 10 feet with a short 7-foot ceiling. Through an opening in the wall, he slipped into a second, narrow room. A dim light filtered through cracks in the lower part of a wall.
The thief gently slid two wooden panels open, revealing rows of neatly lined up books on two shelves inside a cupboard. He took the books off, then one shelf, before sneaking inside the library. At the library in Strasbourg, he had found what he had been looking for in an article from a local history journal that mentioned a secret passage, unknown to anyone currently working at the abbey, except Dietrich, the janitor. It had probably once been used as a hiding place for the monks or as an ossuary — a place to store bones. Gosse selected a few books, wrapped them in plastic bags, then crawled back inside the cupboard.
In the second room, he flipped a wooden crate, climbed on it and hauled the bags through the hatch onto the attic. He climbed up the rope, moved the books to a nearby table to clear the hatch, and climbed back down. He repeated the operation eight times throughout the evening. By the time he was done, more than a hundred books were stacked up in the attic.
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Around 2 a. He came back the following evening. They had poked around the library for hours, eventually chancing upon the secret passage. They saw the suitcases Gosse had left and were waiting for him to come back. Around 9 p. The gendarmes wrestled him to the floor.
He barely said a word. At his apartment, they found about 1, books wrapped in plastic bags. On most of the books, Gosse had glued a custom ex libris bookplate stamp bearing his name in Gothic letters, as well as a drawing of a heart. He confessed to the thefts. He offered to donate them to the library he had so heartily pillaged.
He apologized to the director, who gave him absolution. A slap on the wrist, his lawyer says. He was even able to keep teaching. Close to 20 years after the thefts, the investigators still speak about Gosse with awe. He was no ordinary thief, after all. He stole out of passion, and the books were safely returned to the library in 22 boxes it took two volunteers six months to sort them out. Former colleagues at the engineering school where Gosse still teaches are more guarded.
What kind of example had he set for the students? They described an aloof, reclusive man with no appetite for social activities whatsoever. He is now 48, single, and lives with his mother. They exchange a quick salute and walk on. Fifty years ago, a left-wing radical planted bombs across New York, launching a desperate manhunt—and an explosive new strain of political extremism.
T hroughout much of , Sam Melville, an unemployed year-old with an estranged wife and 5-year-old son, frequently sat at his desk in a squalid apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, contemplating how he could destroy America. Two years earlier, Melville had left behind a well-paying job as a draftsman, a spacious apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and his family.
His father, a former member of the Communist Labor Party, whom Melville once greatly admired, had recently given up the socialist cause, remarried, and opened a hamburger stand in an upscale section of Long Island. Fearing that he might follow his father on a similar path led Melville down an existential rabbit hole. In and around his neighborhood that year, he took part in marches and sit-ins, but by , as his anger toward the government grew, he secretly set off a series of bombs across Manhattan.
To many in the counterculture underground, he was their equivalent of a masked avenger. There was no way some doped-up college kid was making them. You can be all those things and still not want to blow up buildings. Yet in the flashpoint of just four months, Sam Melville and a small group of followers took the American radical left on a hard turn into armed struggle.
Melville was one of the first to turn to this kind of violence, but the country would soon witness the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the bombings of the Pentagon and NYPD headquarters by the Weather Underground, and more.
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What else would make a person act that way other than knowing they damaged their family? The one thing nobody can debate is the haphazard manner in which Sam Melville went about bombing Marine Midland. Though his intention was to destroy property and not people, he did not take into account the presence of an evening staff in the building when he set the device for a 10 p. When more than a dozen employees were taken to the hospital — all with minor injuries — it forced him to rethink his future plans of attack. Army and Selective Services inside. The device went off at 2 a.
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There were no injuries. Melville and his cell soon learned that damaging federal property could elicit a furious response. The next day, the FBI went to an apartment Melville had moved out of months earlier, and later they tracked him down at the apartment on East 4th Street where he and Alpert were living. He told them his name was David McCurdy — the pseudonym he had used to rent a nearby apartment where he had set up an explosives workshop — and denied knowing who Sam Melville was.
Unfazed by this close call, the collective went to work plotting their most ambitious statement on American tyranny yet: a trio of simultaneous bomb blasts across the city on Veterans Day. Meanwhile, Melville opted for his version of laying low: skipping town and going on a bombing spree of U. Army facilities across the Midwest. Melville also participated in a guerilla warfare workshop in North Dakota, hosted by the black nationalist H. Rap Brown. From the inside, black people have been fighting a revolution for years. And finally, white Americans too are striking blows for liberation.
Another blast was planned to follow at the Lexington Armory on 26th Street, with Melville delivering the bomb himself with help from George Demmerle, a newer member Melville had befriended on the Lower East Side. Demmerle, an overly rambunctious radical who not only was a member of the Crazies but also held rank as the only Caucasian member of the Black Panthers, greatly impressed Melville.
Had they found his bomb factory? He had to mobilize. The revolution was in full swing. N ot long after the explosive on Centre Street, Demmerle and Melville made their way uptown, to 26th Street. The plan was to chuck the timed bombs onto the large Army trucks parked in front of the 69th Regiment Armory, knowing they would later be brought inside the building.
But as Melville approached, he noticed something different than the numerous times they had cased the building. Figuring the action would have to wait for another day, Melville was just about to turn away when he was bombarded from all angles by FBI agents pointing pistols and ordering him to freeze. Just like Melville, Demmerle was a man who had left his wife and child looking for purpose in life, but instead of becoming a self-appointed revolutionary, he found it as a low-level mole for the government, beginning in But to Melville, Demmerle was just another comrade in the struggle.
How the hell am I going to get out of jail, jackass? A month after his outburst in court, Melville pulled another act of desperation. After racing down two flights of stairs, he was apprehended. On May 8, , Melville pled guilty to three charges: conspiring to and destroying federal property, and assaulting the marshal. He was sentenced to a consecutive run of 31 years. Hughey ended up serving two years, while Alpert absconded. While harbored by members of the Weather Underground, she circulated the feminist manifesto Mother Right to much praise and criticism from the radical left, before surrendering in There, abusive guards were the norm, as were ludicrously sparse rations such as a single bar of soap every other month and one roll of toilet paper given out only once a month.
The lone bright spot for Melville was finding prisoners to connect with from the Black Panthers and a likeminded Puerto Rican civil rights group called the Young Lords. Over the course of the next year, Melville sent out a storm of letters decrying the conditions at Attica to lawyers, outside supporters and the New York Commissioner of Corrections, Russell Oswald, while also publishing a handmade newsletter distributed to prisoners on the sly called The Iced Pig.
For many both inside and outside of prison walls, this new awareness of incarceration conditions came from George Jackson, the San Quentin inmate who authored the best-selling book Soledad Brother. When word got out that Jackson had been shot dead during a bungled uprising on August 21, , it set off a brooding fury in Attica. In an act of solidarity, Melville led a multiracial phalanx of prisoners wearing black armbands into the mess hall for a very solemn hunger strike. One guard was singled out for a beating so bad he died a few days later.
Over the next four days, negotiations were volleyed in and out of the prison walls by journalists, senators and the well-known civil rights lawyer William Kunstler. At the end of the sudden and bloody debacle, nine guards and 29 inmates were dead, with Melville reportedly being one of the first to get picked off. Legend says Melville was in mid-throw of a Molotov cocktail when he was gunned down. As much as that would make for a great dramatic ending to this made-for-TV story, evidence brought up in a civil suit during the s revealed this to be a mistruth, as no such item was found near his body.
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For an almost year stretch starting in , a group that initially called themselves the Sam Melville Unit carried out a series of bank robberies and bombings across the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest. Last year, former New York City Police commissioner Bernard Kerik summoned the name of the Melville-inspired group when arguing that the left-wing protest group Antifa should be considered a domestic terrorist group. Arching back in his chair to lend further significance to his statement, he puffs on his cigar and continues. While other girls my age were sneaking off with boys and getting drunk, I was becoming a zealot—and trying to convert my parents.
O n a summer Thursday evening, shortly after my 16th birthday, my face was pressed into the maroon carpet again. Mildew filled my nostrils and I coughed. I was mesmerized by the way God moved through her. The Secret Place of the Lord was the place we could dwell if we lived holy lives. In the Secret Place, God would whisper divine revelations to us and show us miracles.
I dug my face harder into the floor — lying prostrate was how we humbled ourselves before the Lord. I sang, improvising a new melody to the Lord. I felt something release as I sang, something like the warmth of God. I kept singing and the tears started flowing, as they always did when I prayed long enough.
They dripped off my face and darkened the carpet underneath. I was a homeschooled girl with only a smattering of friends.
My best friend, Siena, lived just down the road from me, on the pine-speckled canyon seven dusty miles from town. I adored her, but Siena was a public-school jock by then and had way cooler friends than me. I was lonely, and this Pentecostal church had the only youth group in town. Not long after joining, I was all in. I prayed in my room for hours every day. I spoke in tongues and believed I was slaying demons as I prayed in my spiritual language. I threw out all of my secular music. I went on mission trips to spread the Gospel. I cut out my non-Christian friends. I signed a contract promising that I would protect my virginity for my wedding night.
My parents were nominal Christians, but not churchgoers. I deserved parents who would guide me into the Things of the Lord. They told me that sin could be passed down for generations and that people born into a spiritual legacy — generations of people who were believers — had a leg up on people like me from heathen families. This came at just the right moment, developmentally speaking: I was leaving behind the childhood fantasy that my parents were perfect and coming to the realization that they were actually just winging this whole parenting thing, and that they sucked at it sometimes.
This is a very normal realization for a child, but at the time, it felt irrevocable and huge. Jessa offered to be my spiritual mentor, and I excitedly agreed. I spent many hours in their living room, talking about my hopes and dreams. Jessa stroked her frizzy hair and told me all about the incredible destiny God had for me if I surrendered everything to Him. I clung to every word she said. I wanted to be just like her. You are demonic. We ate a meal of corn on the cob, cherries and grilled chicken, on a wooden picnic table a few yards from the water.
I pushed the food on my plate around, sulking. I was thinking of ways I could convert them to my faith. And that should be that. But this in Chekhov. She starts coming to Moscow for gynaecological reasons, she tells her husband to see Gurov and the affair continues. And there the narrative ends…. This is a story about actual, real, messy middle-aged love. It is absolutely free of rancour and authorial judgment. Imagine what modern writers would make of Gurov?
The storytelling is elegant and quick and lean and true as it always is in Chekhov. He is such an artful, artless storyteller. According to Chekhov, in The Lady with the Lapdog, the best of ourselves is never what we show: the best is always what we hide, like Gurov hides his love for Anna and she hides her love for him. Our secret self living its secret life is where our decency is concentrated and what we show the world is false and fake and meaningless.
That is why totalitarians regardless of whether they are of the left or the right hate the private sphere and always try to stamp it out. In other words — and as the world gets madder, never has this truth been more important — the first line of resistance will be through love between people. We would do well, in these febrile times, to remember that. To love as one chooses is to say no. When they finish, the customer and the barber exchange a terse but evidentally mutually fond farewell, and the man leaves without paying. It features a not-quite-love triangle, and a litany of acts of the deepest turpitude, deceit and violence, all in the name of love, and all delivered in the amused, ironical, cheerily brisk voice of the barber.
Pritchett is a genius of human observation and a remarkable short story writer. This is one of his most memorable. It is a story not just about love, but the unaccountable human passions that seep over into mundane reality everwhere, and at all times. Ten miles down from this town the skeletons of men killed in a battle eight centuries ago had been dug up on the Downs. Colin Barrett is the author of Young Skins.
Christine Dwyer Hickey Great romances in literature tend to be complex, they are generally doomed or at least fraught with pain and loss. The lyrics have a beautiful simplicity while the music swirls around them in an utterly seductive way. Dylan sings it as if he is a much older man, a man of experience who is also completely in love.
His words are plaintive but never needy. He invites but does not demand. It is a song of love from the opposite side of the tracks - he is poor and she is not. We can also surmise that the love is in some way forbidden - she may be married or promised to another. Lay Lady Lay is not informed by the past nor does it promise a future; it is a song that is set firmly in the present - there is only this night in this dimly-lit room with that big brass bed in the corner. The discovery of her deception will leave a scar that shapes the rest of his life. Short story writers often capture the evanescent, mysterious, next to inexpressible nature of deep romantic love.
It is as if, in the realm of fiction, the airiness of love can be caught best by the small light net of short story, the poetic prose form. It can express the simplicity and the complexity of this most common and glorious emotion perfectly. Lots of her stories describe romantic relationships which end poignantly, ie in break-up, or death. An astonishingly good story with a happy ending, for once, is Accident, in her collection The Moons of Jupiter.
Bardon Bus, also in that collection, is a perfect account of a passionate affair that ends, not badly, but just ends:. Then a lightness.
The lightness is something to think about.. Tricks in one of her later collections is also superb, a tale of love and chance — and what is more chancy than love? And To Reach Japan is excellent too. Gurov, a married man, seduces Anna, a married woman. He grows tired of her. But then he realises that he loves her after all.
Perhaps not. Almost 25 years after first reading it, I can still quote whole paragraphs. She chose herself, and Written on the Body as her book of the year. John Self is a critic.