He traveled the three miles to the mill 63 times during the 87th harvest of his life, his old International pulling the wagon my uncle filled with beans or corn. I don't know why he counted the trips; perhaps it helped pass the time and focus his wavering mind on something other than the pain. He said to my father that he wanted to bring in one last crop. He almost did, clearing the beans but only getting halfway through the corn before he swallowed hard and told my uncle that they had better hire another man.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA. I don’t think that many reviews have yet appeared, but John Lukacs has just published another memoir, titled Last Rites. Patrick Allitt has an appreciative, but not uncritical, review (subscribers only) in the latest American Conservative. He is right that this volume is not, for a variety of reasons, as “scintillating” as Lukacs’s Confessions of an Original Sinner (1990). But then, Confessions truly is scintillating. It’s one of the finest American memoirs of the twentieth century. What makes it so fine is that it is not simply American. It is also deeply Pennsylvanian. In a state blessed with many more great quarterbacks than great writers, the Hungarian-born, British-educated Lukacs can lay claim to have evoked the character of the southeastern corner of the state as well as anyone ever has. (In this respect, add to Lukacs’s Pennsylvania oeuvre his Philadelphia: Patricians and Philistines and certain sections of A Thread of Years, one of the most memorable books I have ever read.)