professornana (professornana) wrote,

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travel and books

Yesterday was spent on an airplane flying from Houston to Anchorage (I will do anything to escape the heat of Texas it seems). The flight into Seattle was delayed for an hour. Then, we got to sit on the runway for an hour and wait for t-storms to pass. Finally, we were on the first leg of the journey. We arrived in Seattle and then took off for the short flight (3 hours) to Alaska. Bleary eyed, we hit the hotel about 2 local time. I had a tough time unwinding as back home I would just be rising to make sure the kids got on the bus.

Travel like this makes it possible to read thankfully. Gail Giles warned me that I should take more than one book, so I packed 3 for the flight and finished them all with time to spare. I have 4 for the trip home, too.

So, what did I read? I began with the new Gary Paulsen, THE LEGEND OF BASS REEVES. Let me say at the outset that I am no fan of westerns or novels set in the west. However, I am a huge fan of Gary's work, so I decided this was the perfect time to crack open this slim book, a combination of history and fiction, and forget about airport delays.

Bass Reeves grew up a slave but became so much more than his cruel childhood would have predicted. Reeves worked for a master herding cattle, tending to chores around the ranch, and learning by observation. His keen senses would stand him in good stead later in life when he became a marshall. Paulsen, weaving together the slim set of facts known about this brave lawman, creates a story so real that it might have been taken from eyewitness accounts of Reeves' life.

I would have loved to have books like this when I was first teaching here in Texas and did not have a clue about the old West (which Paulsen points out so aptly has been hyped beyond recognition in film, TV, and legend). Reluctant readers, avid readers, and even hesitant readers will recognize this book for what it is: damned fine writing and incredibly moving reading.

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