The Memory Project
Off the top of my head, natural (Johnny Ketchum)

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Several entries have occurred to me late -- BREAKING AWAY, and why it holds up; various pet-vet emergencies (inspired by First Offenders), including the one where my cat ate Easter basket grass, which became apparent when a single blade protruded from . . . do I need to spell it out? "You see this mass on the X-ray?" the vet asked me. "It's either Easter grass, entwined around his intestines -- or it's gas. All we can do is wait a few hours and X-ray him again." Oh, life was never dull with Travis around.

But I keep returning to books because no matter how many times I am asked to recommend books -- first here, then The Rap Sheet and another interview now in the wings -- there's always another book I want to recommend. And I am filled with recommender's regret because I have not picked THE NIGHT MEN for a single one of these assignments. And THE NIGHT MEN is probably in my top twenty, all time.

THE NIGHT MEN is the book that IMHO (it's all IMHO here, folks, but every now and then I need to clarify that) achieved what A SEPARATE PEACE was reaching for, but never quite got. Maybe, to be fair, I just never got the prep school WWII setting. But I got THE NIGHT MEN and it's also set among boys in a culture that's not mine, in an era that's not mine. It is, by design, a human-scale drama, where the action and its consequences are kept realistically small, yet are no less harrowing for it. If I had to put a single word to THE NIGHT MEN, I think it would be . . . rueful. As in, "With rue my heart is laden".

In interest of full disclosure, THE NIGHT MEN was written by a good friend, Keith Snyder.

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