This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,845) on Friday, June 23, 2023.
We have all heard this message many times before: Exercise, in almost any amount, is good for your body. The research is also increasingly pointing to the fact that exercise is good for your mind.
Study after study shows that exercise improves cognition. When we put our bodies through even a very moderate amount of motion, our brains tend to become more focused and aware of the world around us. (Take a look at this Washington Post article for more information.)
The most common and recommended form of exercise for most of us is walking. Not strolling, but walking with some speed. Thirty minutes of walking a day is what is often recommended by health specialists. Sometimes that can be achieved simply by changing our habits. For instance, when we pull into a parking lot, we automatically look for the closest parking space to our destination. So try this change: The next time you pull into a parking lot, look for an empty space that is at least a two-minute walk from where you are going. That would give you twominutes of walking there and two minutes back.
It doesn’t seem like much, but maybe it could make a difference.
Meanwhile, have a great and literate weekend.
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Women With Words
June is a special promotional month for Women With Words, the title that I published earlier this year. The book is now widely available (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, and on a number of other platforms) and can be purchased as a hardback, paperback, or ebook. During this month, I have reduced the price as much as possible wherever it was possible to do so. Now is the perfect opportunity to purchase a copy.
Perhaps you know a young woman who loves to read and write and needs some inspiration. This would make a great gift and a perfect birthday or Christmas present. (I know, it’s June, but is it really too early to start your Christmas shopping?)
As a special for newsletter readers, I will post a chapter from the book in each of the June newsletters. This week’s story is that of Ann Radcliffe.
Don’t wait to make your purchase. By July, prices will be back to normal.
Susan Glaspell: A reporter, a murder trial, and a feminist masterpiece
John Hossack, a well-to-do farmer near Indianola, Iowa, was attacked with an axe while he slept in his bed on the night of Dec. 1, 1900. His wife, Margaret, was in bed beside him but said she heard nothing of the intruders.
Margaret, the mother of nine children, five of whom were still in the house, was eventually charged with the murder of her husband. Five months after the murder, she was convicted by a jury of those who knew the family. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned that conviction because of technical errors by the trial judge. Margaret was tried again, and the second trial resulted in a hung jury. Margaret returned to her home and lived for another decade and a half with the public divided on whether she was innocent or guilty.
That murder and trial might have disappeared from anyone’s memory except for the young reporter from the Des Moines Daily News who covered the murder and its investigation and subsequent trial with 26 articles between December and April.
Her name was Susan Glaspell, and during the 1920s and 1930s she was one of America’s foremost writers of plays, novels, and short stories.
Glaspell was born in 1876 in Davenport, Iowa. She grew up on a farm that was located on land once claimed by Indians. She was precocious and always wanted to be a writer, beginning her life in journalism when she was a teenager. When she reached college age, she left home for Des Moines and Drake University.
At Drake, she was an outstanding student and a championship debater. When she graduated in 1900, she immediately got a job at the Des Moines Daily News. There, she wrote a regular column in which she could express herself freely about the town and its people. She was also assigned to cover a variety of events, from meetings of the state legislature to murder trials.
When the Hossack murder occurred, she traveled to Indianola and involved herself in every aspect of the investigation. Partly because of the extensive coverage that she devoted to the trial, the case drew region-wide attention. Glaspell never expressed her opinion about whether or not Margaret Hossack was guilty, but she was unrestrained in reporting what she believed the public felt about the accused.
The day after the jury returned its verdict, Glaspell quit her newspaper job and went back home to Davenport. Her purpose was to make her living by writing. She had been a newspaper reporter for only about a year, but in that time she believed she had gathered enough material and experience to launch her fiction writing career.
Before long Glaspell was writing and selling stories to magazines such as Harper’s and the Ladies Home Journal. She moved to Chicagowhere she published her first book, The Glory of the Conquered, which made the New York Times bestseller list. Not only did she write short stories and novels, but she began writing plays.
Glaspell moved from Chicago to New Yorkwhere she and her husband, George Cram Cook — whom she married in 1913 — connected with the avant-garde artistic community in Greenwich Village. They were also prominent in the same circles in Provincetown, Massachusettswhere she first encountered Eugene O’Neil.
In 1916 she premiered the one-act play Trifles, now thought to be an early feminist masterpiece. The play was first produced at the Wharf Theater in Provincetown and was based on the Hassock trial that Glaspell had covered when she was a young reporter. Later, Glaspell wrote the short story A Jury of Her Peers, which was a spinoff of the play. The Provincetown Theater company, which she and her husband had founded, moved to New Yorkwhere it attracted many innovative playwrights, producers, and actors.
Glaspell and her husband left the theater company in 1922 and moved to Greece. Two years later, Cook died suddenlyleaving Glaspell on her own. She kept writing, and during the next 10 years she produced her best and most critically acclaimed work. In 1931, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her play Alison’s House. In Great Britain, critics ranked her plays above those of Eugene O’Neil. On both sides of the Atlantic, her novels were bestsellers, and her short stories appeared in major magazines.
In the mid-1930s, Glaspell suffered through a period of alcoholism, depression, and low productivity. She regained her literary footing and managed to write three more novels before her death in Provincetown in 1948.
Her work was largely forgotten during the post-war era, but in the 1970s interest in her work revived. Since that timea determined group of adherents has attempted to make sure she has a proper place in the American literary Pantheon.
If you want to find out more about Susan Glaspell, check out these sites:
- Glaspell’s articles for Des Moines Daily News on the Hossack murder case, Midnight Assassin website
- Trifles, a one-act play by Susan Glaspell
- A biography and some of the works of Susan Glaspell at com
The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery”
G.K. Chesterton: The Incredulity of Father Brown: The Resurrection of Father Brown
G.K. Chesterton’s retiring, priestly detective, Father Brown is well-known to modern readers and viewers mainly through a series of televisions adaptations of his character. Chesterton, who died in 1936, was one of the chief public intellects of his day, and his output as an author is astounding: 4,000 essays, 80 b00ks, several hundred poems, and numerous plays. (See the JPROF post: G.K. Chesterton: Everything about him was big, including his ‘colossal genius’.)
Many of his Father Brown stories first appeared in magazines and then were gathered into several volumes of collections. During these weeks of the long summer months, we are presenting you with easy access to the Father Brown stories in one of the collections, The Incredulity of Father Brown.
These stories take about an hour to read or listen to.
This week’s story is “The Resurrection of Father Brown.”
The Resurrection of Father Brown
THERE was a brief period during which Father Brown enjoyed, or rather did not enjoy, something like fame. He was a nine days’ wonder in the newspapers; he was even a common topic of controversy in the weekly reviews; his exploits were narrated eagerly and inaccurately in any number of clubs and drawing-rooms, especially in America. Incongruous and indeed incredible as it may seem to any one who knew him, his adventures as a detective were even made the subject of short stories appearing in magazines.
Strangely enough, this wandering limelight struck him in the most obscure, or at least the most remote, of his many places of residence. He had been sent out to officiate, as something between a missionary and a parish priest, in one of those sections of the northern coast of South America, where strips of country still cling insecurely to European powers, or are continually threatening to become independent republics, under the gigantic shadow of President Monroe. The population was red and brown with pink spots; that is, it was Spanish-American, and largely Spanish-American-Indian, but there was a considerable and increasing infiltration of Americans of the northern sort—Englishmen, Germans, and the rest. And the trouble seems to have begun when one of these visitors, very recently landed and very much annoyed at having lost one of his bags, approached the first building of which he came in sight—which happened to be the mission-house and chapel attached to it, in front of which ran a long veranda and a long row of stakes, up which were trained the black twisted vines, their square leaves red with autumn. Behind them, also in a row, a number of human beings sat almost as rigid as the stakes, and coloured in some fashion like the vines. For while their broad-brimmed hats were as black as their unblinking eyes, the complexions of many of them might have been made out of the dark red timber of those transatlantic forests. Many of them were smoking very long, thin black cigars; and in all that group the smoke was almost the only moving thing. The visitor would probably have described them as natives, though some of them were very proud of Spanish blood. But he was not one to draw any fine distinction between Spaniards and Red Indians, being rather disposed to dismiss people from the scene when once he had convicted them of being native to it. . . .
Group giveaways for June
Each of these giveaways includes more than 20 books of various sub-genres. You can download any or all of them in exchange for your email address. The email address will be shared among all authors participating in the giveaway. The purpose of these giveaways is to get books into the hands of readers and to increase email lists for the authors.
Vince V.: I read Ball Four a year or so after I had given up my dream of playing professional baseball. It certainly helped my transition
Finally . . .
This week’s watercolor: October outfit
Best quote of the week:
We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders. Maya Angelou, poet (1928-2014)
If you are looking for a quiet, meditative, non-theological but scriptural podcast to start or close your day, try pray-as-you-go.org. The podcasts are 10-12 minutes long, and they feature beautiful music, a scripture reading, and a very short devotional. It’s a great respite from an otherwise all-too-noisy world.
If you are interested in reading scripture, either the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both, you might be interested in the videos, commentary, and podcast of the BibleProject.com. The people who work on this site have done some deep and thoughtful reading of the Bible, and the videos they have produced (generally shorter than 10 minutes) are both entertaining and enlightening. They view the Bible as a single entity with a single purpose, and their approach is both delightful and refreshing.
Helping those in need
Earthquakes in Turkey, fires in California, freezing weather in Texas, hurricanes on the Atlantic Coast, tornados in Tennessee: disasters occur everywhere. They have spread untold misery and disruption. The people affected by them need our help.
It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here).
When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to this one or to yours.
Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.
Last week’s newsletter: Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, Ann Radcliffe and Women With Words, and the importance of writing: newsletter, June 16, 2023
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