Books and Laughter

We shipped two cartons of textbooks to the high school teachers (N, H,
S, and Sh) in Baghdad today, and we spoke to N and H on the phone for
the first time.

I was restless last night, with so many questions flowing through my
mind; so many things I wanted to ask N. I have never had such a close
relationship with someone I haven’t met before. N is like family to us
now. We email so often that we know details of each other’s lives and
think about each other all the time. The call wasn’t what I expected.
If anything, there was little that we said, and we both mentioned that
we were somewhat tongue-tied, with more thoughts than words.

"How are you doing?"
"Fine, we are doing well. How about you?"
"We are great. We are having a good time. Is everything OK?"
"Yes, yes."

And so on-a mostly simple, trite conversation. It is as if I was
talking to a relative I hadn’t chatted with for a while and we were
catching each other up on our lives.

I realize that the books are more than just textbooks.


Wonderful Town
New Yorker Stories of New York

Elements of Literature
Essays

Shakespearean Tragedy
By Bradley

Preface to Critical Reading
By Altick: Ohio State University

Handbook to Literature
By Thrall and Hibbard- With outline of history of English and American Lit.

Enjoyment of Literature
By Grebanier: How to appreciate great writing

September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
By members: How to turn grief into actions for peace

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

Ariel: Life of Shelley
Andre Maurois

The Mirror and the Lamp
Abrams: romantic theory and the critical tradition

Yeats and Artistic Power Marcus: Cornell University: commentaries on poems and plays

Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce

Anatomy of Criticism
Northrop Frye

Walden (and more)
Henry David Thoreau

Reading Lolita in Tehran
Azar Nafisi

Plum Bun
Jessie Redman Faucet

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy

Joseph Andrews
Henry Fielding

Emerson Among the Eccentrics
Carlos Baker

Walt Whitman
Harold Bloom Study Guide

The Portable Romantic Poets
Edited by W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson

The Secular Scripture
Northrup Frye

Romanticism-a critical reader
Edited: Duncan Wu

A Handbook to Literature
Thrall and Hibbard

The Story and Its Writer
Ann Charters

Ways of Reading
Bartholmeae and Petrosky

Women’s World-women in history
Frank & Brownstone

101 Stories of the Great Ballets
Balanchine and Mason

The Oxford Book of Modern Verse
A set of New Yorker Magazines
The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature


Norton Introduction to Poetry
J. Paul Hunter

Commonsense Guide to Grammar and Usage
Beason and Lester

A Writer’s Reference
Hacker

Great Expectations
Charles Dickens

Moll Flanders
Daniel Defoe

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Rise of the Novel
Ian Watt

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Three Course Readings
M. Hassan, for his classes

The New Yorker Magazine
Several months of issues

Dwellers of the Tundra
Life in an Alaskan Eskimo Village

Zaire, Canada, Cuba, Pakistan, Tunisa
Thin brief descriptions in separate thin books


Empire of the Sun
Beautiful photos

Written in Stone
A geologic history of the North Eastern US

I think we fulfilled N’s request to send a lot of material about the
Romantic Period. I know we did much more. One of her students said that
now she knows that not all Americans are bad, and that’s a good thing
to hear.

These books are a means of touching those innocent civilians who are
caught up in the maelstrom we have created. Our government, our
country, our war. It leaves many young people, as well as many adults,
feeling totally isolated and helpless in the face of the war-machine
that ravages their lives. We make a difference when we show that we
care. These gifts of love are more than just textbooks.

Oh yes; one more thing: The laughter. I have been looking at emailed
pictures of N for many, many months. They are smiling-big happy smiles
and twinkling eyes. I often wonder about the flowering spirit that
permits such happiness in the face of such destruction. Today I heard
the laughter behind the smile.

Filed in: Voices of Peaceful Tomorrows

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