Spiders Big Catch
When I was in college, Spider McGee, Charlie Fox, and I loved to fish off the log boom in the river near my house on summer afternoons. We'd sit and talk about life, drink hot chocolate, and occasionally catch a fish or two. But one day, Spider yelled, "Hey, I got something, and it feels big!"
Catching any fish-of any size-was always a surprise, but hooking something big was reason for genuine excitement. As Spider began to reel, his pole bent almost in half.
"This thing is a monster," he said, the drag on his reel screaming.
After twenty minutes or so, he'd gotten it close enough to the boom to get a glimpse of his catch. It was a snapping turtle.
"Ah, man, that's too bad," said Charlie. "I thought maybe you had Old Granddad there, for a second. Cut the line and let him go."
"Are you crazy?" said Spider. "That lure was given to my dad by his grandfather. It was hand-carved in Norway-and he doesn't even know I borrowed it! I gotta get it back."
"Well, how're you gonna do that?" I asked-and was soon sorry I had.
"I'll just bring him up to the edge of the boom, and you guys reach out and grab it," Spider said calmly.
Now, I'm dumb, but I'm not stupid.
I said, "No, no, no-you bring him to the edge of the boom, and then I'll try to pry the lure loose with a stick."
"OK, that'll work," said Spider.
As Spider struggled to bring the turtle close to the edge of the boom, Charlie handed me a long stick. I reached out, and the turtle's jaws instantly clamped down on the stick. I lifted him out of the water, and we headed toward the bank.
Once on shore, we set the angry turtle on the ground, but he refused to let go of the stick, the lure still dangling from the corner of his mouth. I reached out with my tennis shoe to nudge him in the back, and instantly learned several interesting things about snapping turtles. First, they're not as slow as you might think, second, they're very agile, and third, they're well-named.
In a heartbeat, the turtle's neck shot out, reached completely behind him, and bit through the end of my sneaker. Then, spitting out rubber and nylon, he turned and looked at us menacingly.
"OK, we need a new plan," said Spider.
"And a new pair of shoes," I added, looking down at my big toe, which was now plainly visible through the hole in my shoe.
"You hold his head down with the stick, and I'll reach out and grab the lure," Spider said.
It was an insane plan, but it was still a step in the right direction, I thought. At least, there wouldn't be any parts of my anatomy at risk this time. I took the stick and pinned the turtle's head to the ground while Spider got down on his belly and crept slowly toward the angry, struggling turtle.
It was then I learned even more lessons about snapping turtles. First, their front feet can be used a lot like a pair of hands, and second, snapping turtles are much stronger than you might think.
The turtle reached up and quickly pushed the stick away and quickly raised his head-now leaving him face-to-face with a very surprised Spider McGee.
The big guy screamed, which was probably the best thing to do at the time, since it caused the startled turtle to reach up with a front foot, pop the lure from its mouth, and then it whirl around and head back toward the river.
While all that was going on, the lure leapt through the air and finally came to rest-firmly lodged in Spider's left ear. He danced around in pain, but we finally managed to pin him down and cut the line from the lure. Then we packed up and loaded him into the car.
All the way home, Charlie and I would occasionally look back at poor Spider, sitting like a sad puppy in the back seat and wearing what looked like a giant hand-carved, bug-eyed earring. Then we'd look at each other-and laugh.
All that happened more than 30 years ago, and although Spider didn't know it at the time, he was a trendsetter. He was the first guy I ever knew to wear an earring, even if he'd had to get his ear pierced by a snapping turtle to do it.
I'm pretty sure they have easier ways of doing that nowadays.
From the book Spider's Big Catch
Gary E. Anderson
© Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
About The Author
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, and manuscript analyst, living on a small Iowa farm. He's published more than 500 articles and four books. He's also ghosted a dozen books, edited more than 30 full-length manuscripts, produced seven newsletters, and has done more than 800 manuscript reviews for various publishers around the nation. If you need writing or editing help, visit Gary's website at www.abciowa.com" target="_new">www.abciowa.com.
Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her third novel, Milkman. Burns, 56, is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Booker. She accepted the prize tonight at a lavish ceremony in London.
Burns's dark, experimental novel is about a bookish 18-year-old girl caught up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Originally set to be published in the United States next fall, Graywolf Press announced tonight that Milkman will be released on Dec. 11.
The New Academy Prize in Literature 2018 has been awarded to Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé. She is the author of about 20 novels, including I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Tales from the Heart: True Stories from My Childhood; Windward Heights; Victoire: My Mother's Mother; and Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?
The New Academy Prize in Literature was created earlier this year by more than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures in response to the Swedish Academy's decision not to award a 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature in the wake of a highly-publicized scandal. The New Academy will be dissolved in December.
A spate of global phishing scams attempting to access agencies' and publishers' manuscripts and other sensitive information prompted Penguin Random House North America to issue an urgent warning to all staff.
The PRH email was circulated with the subject line "Important: New Phishing Alert" and reads: "We have recently seen an increase in attempts to steal our manuscripts. This has occurred in multiple locations across the globe. The individuals attempting to access these manuscripts have a sophisticated understanding of our business. We need to protect ourselves from these threats."
The Bookseller understands PRH UK has been similarly targeted, with fraudsters posing as literary agents and foreign-rights staff from seemingly legitimate email addresses. Other houses have also been affected. Pan Macmillan revealed it had also been targeted by scammers trying to access manuscripts, and has issued an internal briefing to staff. The head of another global publisher said that while there have long been scams targeting confidential information such as contracts, seeking manuscripts is a new development.
The deadline is approaching to cast votes for the USA's best-loved novel. To date, more than 3.8 million votes have been cast.
Organizers of The Great American Read have released a Top 10 list of the leading candidates. The winning book will be revealed in the "Grand Finale" episode on October 23 on PBS stations nationwide.
Viewers can vote for their favorite titles each day through October 18 via Facebook, Twitter, text and phone. Click the link below for full details.
The Top Ten are:
Chronicles of Narnia series
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter series
Lord of the Rings series
Pride and Prejudice
To Kill a Mockingbird
The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker's annual report on the number of ISBNs that were issued to self-published authors. The total number of ISBNs issued last year rose 28% over 2016, to 1,009,188.
It is important to note that these figures represent book editions not book titles - for example, a book that is published in three different formats (say hardcover, paperback and audio), would count for three ISBNs.
The gain was due entirely to the increase in the number of print ISBNs issued by Bowker last year: 879,587, an increase of 38% over 2016. The number of ISBNs issued for e-books released by self-published authors fell 13% from 2016, to 129,601.
While Bowker noted that the 2017 decline is the third consecutive year the number of ISBNs issued for e-books fell, the drop is more likely due to authors moving to Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform than an overall decline in the number e-books that were self-published last year. Because KDP uses Amazon's own ASIN identifiers rather than the industry standard ISBNs, KDP's titles do not appear in the Bowker data. Amazon does not disclose the number of KDP titles that it releases annually.
The finalists for the National Book Award are in, and this year, there's more of them than ever before.
For 2018, the National Book Foundation has added a new category for translated literature, in what seems to be an attempt to push back against the idea that Americans don't read books from other countries. It doesn't spotlight only unfamiliar names, though: The finalists in this category include Trick, translated by Namesake author Jhumpa Lahiri, who has written extensively about her decision to begin reading and writing in Italian after years of being celebrated for her beautiful English sentences.
Handbags, briefcases and ties can be checked out for up to three weeks at a time at the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library, as part of a pilot program dreamed up by Michelle Lee, a young adult librarian...
Johns Hopkins University just announced that the school will name a new research building after Henrietta Lacks, the "mother of modern medicine" whose cancer cells revolutionized medical research--and whose story came to the public's attention through Rebecca Skloot's 2010 nonfiction work, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
"Through her life and her immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world," Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels said during the university's 9th annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture on Saturday.
Amazon's minimum-wage increase for its hourly workers comes with a trade-off: no more monthly bonuses and stock awards.
Amazon confirmed in an email to CNBC that the company is getting rid of incentive pay and stock option awards as it increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The company, however, stressed that the wage increase "more than compensates" for the loss in other benefits.
Among the 25 winners of the 2018 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships (widely referred to as the "genius grants," which come with a no-strings-attached award of $625,000) are at least six people who are writers or story-tellers:
- Natalie Diaz, 40, a poet who teaches at Arizona State University.
- John Keene, 53, a writer in the Department of African American and African Studies at Rutgers University.
- Kelly Link, 49, a fiction writer in Northampton, Mass.
- Dominique Morisseau, 40, a playwright at Signature Theatre in New York City.
- Ken Ward Jr., 50, an investigative journalist with the Charleston Gazette-Mail.M
- Raj Jayadev, 43, a community organizer and co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a story-telling, community organizing, and advocacy organization.