Contrary to slanderous Eastern opinion, much of Iowa is not flat, but rolling hills country with a lot of timber, a handsome and imaginative landscape, crowded with constant small changes of scene and full of little creeks winding with pools where shiners, crappies and catfish hover.
There must be an alternative between Hollywood and New York, between those two places psychically as well as geographically. The University of Iowa tries to offer such a community, congenial to the young writer, with his uneasiness about writing as an honorable career, or with his excess of ego about calling himself a writer.
Touch was important. The evening of the Third of July we would go around the neighborhood and look at the fireworks others had bought, taking them out of the brown paper sack and handling them cautiously as if they were precious stones. There was envy when we saw sacks with more in them than we had.
To eat in the same room where food is cooked – that is the way to thank the Lord for His abundance.
For my Oxford degree, I had to translate French and German philosophy (as it turned out, Descartes and Kant) at sight without a dictionary. That meant Germany for my first summer vacation, to learn the thorny language on my own.
When your first marriage goes into tragedy, you become very battle-scarred… I even thought of suicide. Luckily, I had known some happy marriages.
The sharpest memory of our old-fashioned Christmas eve is my mother’s hand making sure I was settled in bed.
Every Christmas should begin with the sound of bells, and when I was a child mine always did. But they were sleigh bells, not church bells, for we lived in a part of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where there were no churches.