Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Challenge: U is for Unwind (and Leon Uris and "(The) Ugly American" by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer)

U was hard because I couldn't find a Colorado author or a book title from a Colorado author that begin with that letter. Luckily, I did have a favorite in both categories, so I didn't have to cheat on this one.

Featuring authors and novels who are old favorites is a good thing, especially for those of us who've been around a long time and read a lot of books. On the off chance you've never read any of the following, I strongly recommend you give them a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed (unless, of course, your attention span has shrunk to communications of 140 characters or less).

Featured Author:  Leon Uris

Leon Marcus Uris was an American novelist, born in Baltimore to Jewish-American parents. He was known for his carefully-researched historical fiction. Uris died in 2003 after producing over ten highly acclaimed novels. There's a full biography at the New York Times website.

I read Exodus in 1958 when it was first published (I was still in high school). I believe it's the most well known of this author's works. I also liked Mila 18 which was published in 1961. The Haj (1984) was the third Uris novel I read. I would recommend any of these books because they're still relevant to today's headlines.

From the publisher of Exodus:

"Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies--the beginning of an earthshaking struggle for power. Here is the tale that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse [and] an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era."

Featured Book:  (The) Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer

Oddly enough, this book was first published about the same time as Exodus by Leon Uris. I was into bestsellers and world affairs at the time, so it's not surprising I read The Ugly American as soon as it came out.

Here's the book blurb:

"Homer Atkins, a plain and plain-spoken man(and "The Ugly American"), was sent by the U.S. government to advise the Southeast Asian country of Sarkhan on engineering projects. When Atkins finds badly misplaced priorities and bluntly challenges the entrenched interests, he lays bare a foreign policy gone dangerously wrong."

Again, this book is relevant today because the U.S. continues to blunder when messing in world politics. We don't seem to learn from our mistakes.

Word of the Day:  Unwind

I picked this word because writers are often wound pretty tight, especially those who have day jobs and families and hobbies. But they want to write. And if they're published, they need to get into that whole book promotion thing with social media.

Biting off more than we can chew is a common habit. Setting our immediate goals too high is another. Forgetting to relax...that's a big one.

One of the things I do to unwind is put a favorite CD in my boombox, sit down in a comfortable chair, and focus on relaxing every part of my body, starting with my toes and working up to my scalp. I like Enya music for this purpose. Or uplifting musicals such as South Pacific.

Another relaxing activity for me is to dig in my garden or plant pots full of flowers. No talking, not even much sweating, just keeping my hands busy while my mind wanders and grows calm.

Or head over to the university and stroll through the trial gardens. Take photographs. Focus on the colors. Nice.

How about you? How do you unwind? 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We do need time to relax. That's why I play my guitar every night.
And watch a lot of movies...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Walking on the beach is one of my favorite ways to relax. When it's quiet and uncrowded, you can really hear the water lapping at the shore and over the shells, and you feel both bigger and smaller than you really are…aaah! :)

simple girl..... said...

For me relaxing is just lying down, staring at the ceiling fan, doing nothing .. :)

Rachna Chhabria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna Chhabria said...

When I need to unwind I read books and listen to music.

Dean K Miller said...

I will be unwinding with my fly fishing rod and a couple friends tomorrow.

Often it's writing that helps me unwind as well. But sometimes it spools me up. The best "love/hate" relationship there is.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Alex, I used to play the piano to relax, but now I have a keyboard sitting in the corner gathering dust. I'm missing an opportunity. Sigh.

Madeline, I've found sitting by a mountain stream helps almost as much as the ocean.

Simple girl, I'd almost forgotten how to do nothing, but I'm working on it.

Rachna, reading transports to far away places and can be very relaxing...but I read too many thrillers.

Hi Dean. Fishing is always good, as long as you're with people who don't talk a lot. :D

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I read Leon Uris too though not until I was in high school in the mid 70's. I think his books inspired my interest in historical fiction. I unwind by running or like you, working outside.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I like historical fiction, too, Susan. I should never have taken on this A to Z theme because now I'm itching to go back and read all those books I read so long ago.

Rhonda Blackhurst said...

I agree Pat, Enya is so relaxing. Also David Nevue. I'm a sun person-the hot sun on my shoulders is the best relaxation therapy. That and doing nothing but petting my dog.

Kenneth W Harmon said...

My favorite Leon Uris novel is Trinity. As I recall, he did some of the research for it in Denver. I believe he was wearing a Denver Broncos hat on the back cover.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Rhonda, petting a pet helps a long as its not Katie Cat when she's in a bad mood.

Hi Ken -- I'm not sure I read Trinity...I think there's a couple more I missed, too.