Pearls & Swine

vic fortezza
4 min readSep 21, 2023

Born in the hills of West Virginia in 1892, Pearl S. Buck, the child of missionaries, spent her childhood, from the age of five months, in China. She was prolific, author of scores of books, the most famous The Good Earth, which garnered her a Pulitzer in 1932, and which was adapted to the screen in 1938, winning Oscars for star Louise Rainer and Karl Freund’s cinematography. Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1938. I just finished her memoir of her mother, The Exile, published in 1936. It is an absorbing, loving account of a noble, indomitable woman who brought light to the troubled. Her husband, an aloof, rigid preacher, focused on the afterlife. She chose to administer to people’s immediate needs, counseling and teaching in fluent Chinese, at times providing a safe haven for those in physical danger. She longed for a sign from God that never came. Despite that she bore body and spiritual blows that would have destroyed most folks, and that probably took many years off her life. She was appalled by the unsanitary conditions in China, and even moreso by the treatment of females, some of whom were killed immediately after birth. Her marriage was characterized by duty, not love. Despite that, she bore seven children and raised them largely by herself, as her husband was often away and, when home, uncomfortable with kids. She tried to recreate America in her personal space, teaching her brood and others about the wonders of her homeland, its beauty. The story is in large part about the old fashion values of sacrifice and hard work. Modern females might take offense to this excerpt: “She was a great believer in housework as a cure for women’s discontents.” It’s a way of saying: “Keep busy to ward off the negative,” which is something I practice myself. The prose is not easy and, for a change, there is a dearth rather than an abundance of commas. The 310 pages of the Triangle Books hardcover edition is smaller than the standard size, so it reads like a lot less. 178 users at Amazon have rated The Exile, forging to a consensus of 4.5 on a scale of five. I’ll go with four. Buck left China in 1911 and earned a degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. She returned in 1917, married a missionary and became one herself. During a sabbatical in 1925, she earned a Master’s at Cornell. Her first child was developmentally disabled and required care her entire life, 72 years. Complications from the birth left Buck unable to bear any more children. She divorced in 1935 and married her publisher. She adopted seven children. She was involved in humanitarian and political issues and suffered her share of controversy. She passed away at 80 in 1973. For more, visit her Wiki profile. Photo from Google Images:

RIP screenwriter Robert Klane, 81, master of humor, often offbeat. Born on Long Island, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, there are 23 titles under his name at IMDb. He started with bang, adapting his novel, Where’s Poppa (1970), a cult favorite. He wrote six episodes of M*A*S*H and eleven of Tracey Takes On…, receiving two Emmy nominations for the latter, winning one shared with the show’s many other writers. He wrote the scripts for National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1987), collaborating with John Hughes, Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) and The Man with One Red Shoe (1985). He also has eight credits as a TV producer and four as a director, two big screen, two small. He wrote two other novels: The Horse is Dead, his first, and Fire Sale, his last, adapted to the screen in 1977. Well done, Sir. Thanks for the laughs. Photo from GI:

Headline from “Working diplomatic corner: UN General Assembly brings ‘hooker convention’ to NYC — high-priced escorts from Vegas, Europe.” Those who actually deliver services accommodate political whores who deliver nothing but nonsense and roadblocks to progress.

Familiar headline from “World leaders’ NYC arrival vehicles highlight hypocrisy at climate meeting.” They’re too important to abide by the rules they propose.

Nice haul for the floating book shop on this gorgeous day. My thanks to the woman who overcompensated me for two books in Russian, and to the one who bought 21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox by Roni DeLuz and James Hester; and to the woman who purchased Scarred, non-fiction by Sophie Andrews; and to Alice, who selected Rage by Jonathan Kellerman; and to the young man who chose Angels by Marian Keyes; and to the Latino restaurant worker who, as he has so often done, parked his bike and picked out a bunch of DVDs and Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox; and to Wolf and local porter Rob, who donated a baker’s dozen in Russian titles between them. I am blessed.

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.