Memoirs

Filmmaker and author Ben Logan recalls growing up on a different field of grass in his personal history, The Empty Meadow. Brought up on a Wisconsin farm, Ben writes below of one of his first teenage encounters with a member of the opposite sex.

She bit her lip and wouldn't look at me or let me turn her face toward me. "Everything goes too fast."

"You mean us? Last time?"

She nodded. "I didn't mean to let you kiss me."

I laughed and squeezed her shoulder. "Why did you then?"

She jerked away from my hand. I thought she was going to slap me. "Oh you're something aren't you? You think boys are so different! You think girls are just starched marshmallows or something! You think you can do anything you want with us just so you don't get us wrinkled up or pull off any buttons!"

From a long way off I could hear myself thinking, God-almighty, what the hell is going on?

She looked at me, waiting. The moon had come up and was on her face. She was prettier than ever. She took a deep breath. The front of the suit raised up and down. I watched that happening, thinking about the anatomy of it and almost forgot what we were talking about.

Ben Logan

The Empty Meadow

Clyde Rice's memoir, A Heaven in the Eye, won the 1984 Western States Book Award for creative nonfiction. Begun when Rice was seventy-five, the book is a memoir of his life from age sixteen until he was thirty-four. He says that the publisher didn't want to hear about his first sixteen years, and he, himself, felt that no one would want to read about what happened after his thirty-fourth year. This short excerpt has to suffice to describe the entire wild and wonderful story, but it does provide some of its gusto.

I was invited to a few of the fine homes of the old first families of Portland [Oregon]. Scattered throughout the downtown areas, these houses were very grand, but the impression I had about the people I met there was of lap dogs atop embroidered cushions, nor did their young impress me any more favorably. Life, my mother's death had recently reminded me, was rich and priceless and soon gone, but here in their fabulous boxes these people were the quiet antithesis of gusto. The sap of life was lost here. After visiting four or five of these fine houses, I said out loud, not to the mirror but with some self-consciousness, "What you seek you won't find in money or prestige." I added this motto to the things I already knew about myself—for example, that I never watched to catch myself simpering in the acclaim of however many mutts, and that I was going to do the sexual thing with Miss Nordstrom.

Clyde Rice A Heaven in the Eye

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