Friday, April 18, 2008

Ralph, E.B., and Joe

I'm still on the High Divide several days after finishing Ralph Moody's autobiographical book of the same name. This is the second time that I have read it aloud to my family. The first time was on a road trip from Louisiana to Yellowstone National Park in 2001. We left Yellowstone as news of the Twin Towers attack burst onto the airwaves, but that's another post.

Ralph Moody could tell a story! Not only that, he had a bodaciously well-developed sense of empathy. He adjusted his actions accordingly, with a positive result for all concerned. Moody's Little Britches series is the most pleasant way I know to absorb small business, self-help information. It beats the heck out of reading Dale Carnegie.

Re-reading Moody reminded me of my hero E. B. White. I have read his letters and essays over and over and over. I even made a trip to White's saltwater farm in East Blue Hill, Maine, to see where he lived and wrote. When I was raising chickens for the first time in 1998, and frantically making pound cakes to use up all their excess production, White's essay about the same topic brought me enormous comic relief. His chickens were "laying like a house afire!" He'd been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale! He wrote Charlotte's Web there, too, but it was his letters and essays that worked their way into my heart.

Moody and White were both born pre-1900 and died in the early 1980s. If they have an heir, it would have to be Joe Sobran. He is that rare writer who can write elegantly and humorously at the same time. And he is thoroughly Catholic. What a package! I first started reading his columns on From there I disovered Sobran's website and newsletter. Although he no longer has a print newsletter, a subscription e-letter is available for $35/year.

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