What I’m Reading Now

ohio

I wrote this entry in January 2014 and am reviving it because it was swallowed in the great Blue meltdown. A review of Volume Two will follow.

Another in an occasional series. And another in which I’ve finished the book. In this case I had intended to sit with notepad and pen, taking copious notes so I could provide a detailed analysis. Instead I spent several enjoyable evenings (before and after the holiday rush) immersed in an autobiography that captures life as the Great Depression plagued America and challenged people to rally every bit of diligence and endurance and mutual support that was possible. Having survived that dreadful era, these same people were plunged into a war that put enemies to the east and west, as it drew in generations of men to fight the Axis powers.

So, I come now to praise my friend Ed Clark’s A Man From Ohio. We’ve known each other for thirty years, since he arranged for my mother to receive the first of her honorary doctorates from Suffolk University, where he taught. I wrote about him in At Home Inside: A Daughter’s Tribute to Ann Petry because I was fascinated that a white man from Middle America had been the person to start the Collection of African American Literature.

I can’t find a web link, but here’s what Ed says when he places the order for books: “The Collection … consists of works by about 1,325 black American writers from the beginning in the 18th century to the present, along with related works by writers of all races, with about 5,650 works.” The collection emphasizes works by and about black writers associated with New England and has offered me an education in literature far better than anything I learned in any college course.

The 370-page Man From Ohio opens with accounts of his family. It closes as a young Ed is about to return to the United States, having served as a member of the U.S. Army 78th Infantry Lightning Division.

Throughout, I could see the seedlings of the man I know: his love of words, his growing sensitivity to the differences among people, his curiosity about what makes the world tick.

What struck me most was the evidence Ed’s passion – for sports as a youth, for journalism and later for literature, for people (especially beautiful women) and for his friends, most especially for the friendship of Günter Krüger, the young Jewish German man he met in Berlin during the Occupation.

Ed, you exemplify “the Greatest Generation.” Thank you for sharing the story of your life with us. I look forward to the next volume.

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