Blind Descent by James M. Tabor

Agony. Ecstasy. Injury. Death. Betrayal. Brotherhood and sisterhood. Accidents. Triumphs. Unknown realms. Exploration and discovery. Overwhelming obstacles. Ingenious victories.

These are some of the reasons why I think Blind Descent would make good reading for high school students. Here are two great truths: Hockey games, reduced to their essences, are nothing more than two players racing towards the puck; everything else that happens is connecting tissue, secondary, quotidian. The same is true of life. Reduced to its essence, life is a series of critical moments linked by days, months, years, or decades of the stuff we do to pass time. Work. Play. Eat. Sleep. Drive. Party. Study, etc.

There are some people who are not content to wait for life to bring them critical moments. For a variety of reasons, they go out of their way to create such junctures, often placing themselves in harm’s way to do so. (more…)

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American Buffalo by Steven Rinella

by Steven Rinella, author of American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon

 I’d be lying if I said that I wrote American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon for a high-school audience. In fact, I didn’t write the book for any particular “audience” at all, besides the five or six buddies of mine that I hang out with most often.  Whenever I had to make a decision about what to put in the book and what to leave out, I’d just asked myself whether or not these buddies would be interested in it. Those were the parts that made it into my manuscript.

I would never suggest this writing strategy to anyone. But it does open you up to some surprises when it’s time to start traveling around and talking to different audiences about your book. Namely, it’s interesting to find out what sorts of people are interested in your subject, what sorts of people are troubled by it, and what sorts couldn’t care less. For me, the biggest of these surprises happened on the handful of occasions when I was fortunate enough to speak to high school classes in environmental studies or American history. Through all the interviews and book store events and literary festivals, these were the only people who regarded me as a historical contrarian and rabble-rouser. (more…)