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On any given day, millions of Wall Street Journal readers put aside the serious business and economic news of the day to focus first on the paper's middle column (a.k.a. the A-hed), a virtual sound-bubble for light literary fare -- a short story, a tall tale, an old yarn, a series of vignettes, and other unexpected delights that seem to "float off the page." In this first-ever compendium of middle-column pieces, you'll find an eclectic selection of writings, from the outlandish to the oddly enlightening. Read about: one man's attempt to translate the Bible into Klingon sheep orthodontics, pet-freezing, and toad-smoking being hip in Cairo, modeling at auto shows, piano-throwing the fate of mail destined for the World Trade Center after 9/11 the plight of oiled otters in Prince William Sound ...and much, much more. Edited by 20-year Journal veteran Ken Wells, and with a foreword by Liar's Poker author Michael Lewis, Floating Off the Page is the perfect elixir for fans of innovative prose in all its forms and function.
For more than sixty years, The Wall Street Journal has prided itself not just on its serious journalism, but also on the whimsical and arcane stories that amuse and delight its readers. In that regard, animal stories have proven to be the most beloved of all. Now, veteran Journal reporter and Page One editor Ken Wells gathers the finest, funniest, and most fascinating of these animal tales in one exceptional book. Here are lighthearted, witty stories of breakthroughs in goldfish surgery, the untiring efforts of British animal lovers who guide lovesick toads across dangerous motorways, and the quest to tame doggy anxieties by prescribing the human pacifier Prozac. Other pieces reflect on mankind's impact on the animal kingdom: a close-up look at the nascent fish-rights movement, the retirement of U.S. Air Force chimpanzees that once soared through space, and ongoing scientific efforts to defeat that most hardy enemy -- the cockroach. Each of these fifty-odd stories -- from the outlandish to the poignant -- exemplifies the superb feature writing that makes The Wall Street Journal one of America's best-written newspapers. This charming and utterly captivating collection will be a joy not only to animal lovers, but to all those who appreciate artful storytelling by writers who are obviously having a wonderful time spinning the tales.
Fifteen years after he tormented fellow students at Catahoula Bayou School, Junior Guidry is broke, drunk, one-legged, and living in a wreck of a trailer on the edge of a snake-infested swamp. He's survived an oil-rig accident that would've killed most men but, with the help of a good lawyer, made him rich instead. But he's squandered his fortune on drink, blackjack, womanizing, and brawling, leaving a wake of wrecked cars and friendships, not to mention lost or stolen wooden legs. Then the mysterious...
No one tells a bayou tale like Ken Wells. Logan's Storm is the capstone of the Catahoula Bayou Trilog3 a sequel to Wells's critically acclaimed debut novel, Meely LaBauve (a YALSA Best Book of the Year), and a prequel to Junior's Leg, called by The New York Times "a good o1' story . . . briskly flowing and eventful." Logan's Storm tracks the epic journey of Logan LaBauve, Meely's widowed father, and Chilly Cox, a black teenager accosted by the police for his "crime" of rescuing Meely from a bully. As they flee the law through the Great Catahoula Swamp and along the lonely byways of Mississippi, Logan and Chilly fight hunger, foul weather, ravenous insects, and predators of all kinds--including an erudite grifter and a swamp-dwelling madwoman whose son practices a bizarre form of taxidermy-- before Chilly finds safety with relatives. Still haunted by the fact that he had to leave Meely behind in order to escape, Logan heads down to Florida to lay low himself, accompanied by Annie Ancelet, an angel of mercy who gave him temporary shelter. But when a killer hurricane rumbles out of the gulf, Logan is forced to make harrowing choices that could cost him his life--or the lives of those suddenly thrust into his care. With Mark Twain's flair for adventure and Eudora Welty's sense of place, Logan's Storm is a trip through the heart and soul of a truly American character and a riveting story that is both memorable and uproariously funny.
Fifteen-year-old Meely LaBauve is growing up on Catahoula Bayou and living by his wits. His father is an alligator hunter, still unable to cope with the death of his wife eight years earlier. He finds comfort in bottles of hooch and with companionable women and disappears for days at a time. School, for Meely, is a long, dusty walk away in a place where truancy isn't a top priority. "Up at Catahoula School, we've got all the grades. I'm in ninth when I'm in anything," says Meely. But the law has it out for Meely's dad; and Junior Guidry, nephew of a rogue cop and a bully himself, considers badgering Meely his favorite sport. When the LaBauves find themselves in the law's sights, it takes baseball bats, fire ants, flying alligators, an unidentified body, and a lot of fast thinking to set things right. Not since Huck Finn rafted down the Mississippi has there been a coming-of-age story like this, told in such an utterly authentic, unlettered American voice. From a charming encounter with first love in the Canciennes' corn patch to an adventurous paddle through wild and timeless places little explored, Ken Wells has cooked up a zesty gumbo of a book--rich, poignant, and often hilarious.
Do beer yeast rustlers really exist? Who patented the Beer Goddess? How can you tell a Beer Geek from a Beer Nazi? Where exactly is Beervana? Does Big Beer hate Little Beer? Ken Wells, a novelist, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and longtime Wall Street Journal writer, answers these questions and more by bringing a keen eye and prodigious reportage to the people and passions that have propelled beer into America's favorite alcoholic beverage and the beer industry into a $75 billion commercial juggernaut, not to mention a potent force in American culture. Travels with Barley is a lively, literate tour through the precincts of the beer makers, sellers, drinkers, and thinkers who collectively drive the mighty River of Beer onward. The heart of the book is a journey along the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana, in a quixotic search for the Perfect Beer Joint -- a journey that turns out to be the perfect pretext for viewing America through the prism of a beer glass. Along the river, you'll visit the beer bar once owned by the brewer Al Capone, glide by The World's Largest Six Pack, and check into Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel to plumb the surprisingly controversial question of whether Elvis actually drank beer. But the trip also includes numerous detours up quirky tributaries, among them: a visit to an Extreme Beer maker in Delaware with ambitions to make 50-proof brew, a look at the murky world of beer yeast rustlers in California, and a journey to the portals of ultimate beer power at the Anheuser-Busch plant in St. Louis, where making the grade as a Clydesdale draft horse is harder than you might imagine. Entertaining, enlightening, and written with Wells's trademark verve, Travels with Barley is a perfect gift -- not just for America's 84 million beer enthusiasts, but for all discerning readers of flavorful nonfiction.
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