October 2021 - Issue No. 13
The Style of No Style
I must be the Charlie Brown of writers because I’ve never been able to figure out what “style” is all about. What does that word, ‘style,’ mean? I’ve always had a problem with it. If there were such a thing as “styleblindness,” a disease like colorblindness, I’d be the first to test positive.
“But,” you say, “everyone knows what style is.” Wrong. Everyone thinks they know what style is. But when you ask them, no one can define style precisely. No one can tell it to you straight.
I first became aware of my deficiency back in grade school when I was learning to write long hand. I was the only left-handed kid in Miss Gorham’s third grade class. She tried to figure out how I was supposed to hold the paper and pencil so the page wasn't smeared. She kept changing my hand position on the desk until my arm curled around the paper like an upside down ‘G.’
The other kids laughed when they saw me writing. “Why are you holding your hand like that? Why is your paper upside down when you write?”
They thought it was funny. I didn’t. Long after they went out to the playground for recess, I was still hunched over my little desk, tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth as my crabbed hand slowly but diligently moved my number 2 pencil across sheets and sheets of that brownish, newsprinty writing paper in the Chieftain tablet they...
Louise E. Sawyer
After supper, my brother Frank and I beg Dad,
“Tell us a story in front of the fireplace.”
We settle down to camp on the couch.
Dad gathers together wood chips, kindling sticks,
a little paper; lays them “just so” in the grate,
lights the makings with a match—a baby blaze.
We stare, mesmerized. It becomes a crackling blaze.
“We need camp food to cook, don’t we, Dad?”
“Okay, I’ll get us potatoes to roast in the grate.”
We beg Mom, “Marshmallows for the fireplace.”
“Here is a bag. Don’t eat them all.” We’ll need sticks.
We settle down with a grin on the couch.
Dad finds three branches and sits with us on the couch.
He uses his pocket knife while he watches the blaze.
Soon he has carved three sharp spears from the sticks.
He hands each of us a spear, and we say, “Thanks, Dad!”
I point my stick with marshmallow into the fireplace,
lean forward to watch it sizzle in the blazing grate.
Dad takes a poker, stirs ashes in the grate
Then he sits back with a sigh on the couch,
watching the smoke go up the chimney of the fireplace.
Dad buries potatoes in ashes made by the blaze.
Smiling, he settles back on the couch. “Dad,
see the golden-brown marshmallow on my stick.
It isn’t burnt. It didn’t fall off my stick.”
I poke my stick at the fireplace grate,
watch the sticky residue become charcoal. “Dad,
tell us a story.” ...
One Precious Day
Paul K. McWilliams
“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.”
Mike Hanlon, an old childhood friend of mine, had cultivated the pot, not for kicks or profit, but expressly for relief. He was a poor and suffering soul growing a simple weed, an illegal weed that, when smoked, mercifully spared him the fantastic headaches and the terror of epileptic seizures. Light leaking around the clock from the two cloaked windows of the spare bedroom of his rented home is what likely brought the cops. The bust ushered a cascade of compounding misfortune upon Mike, leaving him broke, homeless, and alone.
Michael and I first became friends when we were eight years old. Our families had summer shacks at Minot Beach, then a minor but no less beautiful summer retreat and resort about twenty miles southeast of Boston. Michael was one of six children, third from the oldest. He had three brothers, one older and two younger, and two sisters, one older and one younger. I remember Michael then as always smiling and laughing, all boy with a real talent for harmless mischief. He was smart, witty, and a genuine joy to be around. I can still see him swimming like an otter, playful and at ease at any depth. I’d watch and marvel at his swimming prowess. It took till I was nearly a teen before I’d swim in water over my head.
By the latter part of...