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Eleanor Cooney's Blog

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There was a new girl in our class at the beginning of second grade who wore a metal leg brace with leather straps. She also wore glasses and had asthma attacks. During air-raid drills,  Emmie was not required to crouch on the floor like the rest of us. She walked with a loping gait, and the...
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Little Richard.jpg
The Time: Autumn, 1958. The place: the playground of the Washington Consolidated School, Washington, Connecticut. A big crowd of kids are in a circle around two fighting boys. Jimmy Crickskin has his arm hooked around Billy Dils’ neck from behind. Jimmy’s got Billy on the ground, a leg also hooked...
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The time: Summer, early twenty-first century. The place: The Sacramento Amtrak station. This is not one of the huge, glorious, echoing, cathedral-sized, major American railroad temples of the sort that you find in L.A., Chicago, New York, or Washington D.C., but it’s not bad. The scale and the...
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It's the tenth anniversary of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Where we were and what we were doing as the momentum to war built and built is burned into our memories. Here's my story. I love this country. Some people seem to think they have an exclusive on loving America, but I’ve got news for them:...
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My beautiful mother: Author photo from her 1963 novel QUARTET IN FAREWELL TIME
(This is the second half of an excerpt from the new final chapter in the 2013 Kindle edition of my 2004 memoir, DEATH IN SLOW MOTION. Part 1 can be seen here.) Postscript: The Mystery of Room 157 At the end of April following the winter of the escaped tiger, crashing trees and power outages, my...
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My Mother's Hair
(This is an excerpt from the new final chapter in the 2013 Kindle edition of my 2004 memoir, DEATH IN SLOW MOTION) Winter, 2008: I’m driving a stolen car. Not technically stolen, but it feels stolen. My guilty conscience clatters along everywhere I go in the car, like the tin cans and old shoes...
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  A while back, the National Association of Railroad Passengers featured interesting little interviews with train riders, samplings taken onboard various routes around the country. People give all sorts of reasons for going by train—it’s relaxing, it’s cheap (not in the sleepers it’s not),...
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  We first spotted him when we came up the stairs to the second deck. He was hard to miss. We were still in the station in L.A. on a gorgeous sunny morning, all-aboarding the Coast Starlight, which runs almost 1200 miles north to Seattle. Mitch and I would be getting off that evening in...
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Resistance is Futile
The year is 1990. I’m standing on the Amtrak station platform in Lafayette, Louisiana. We’ll be here for ten minutes and then roll on to New Orleans. I sniff the air and wonder which direction the cemetery is in. How far is it from the station? I was in Lafayette once before, around 1980. That time...
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Kicked out of Show and tell for two weeks!
  On the first day of first grade in the mid-1950s, I looked at the blackboard, where Miss Wheeler (dark hair, red lipstick, high heels) had written the date in flowing feminine script. It registered in a decisive kind of way. It was an official beginning. Or ending. Up until then, I’d...
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Baby Blue
So read the hand-lettered sign near the hulking incinerator by Highway 101 just south of Cloverdale, California. Those of us who live north of Cloverdale passed the thing, a remnant of a defunct milling operation, every time we went to Santa Rosa or San Francisco and back. It resembled a big rusty...
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T'ang fuck.jpg
When Dan Altieri and I set out to write our first big historical novel of T’ang Dynasty China, THE COURT OF THE LION, we had the pleasure of looking forward to doing plenty of sex scenes. Some would be tender and lyrical, others would be raunchy and violent, with just about every possible shade in...
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Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
The train into New Orleans slows way down a few miles out of the city. It clanks along languidly, always many hours late. The “arrival time” on the schedule is merely a quaint formality. The greenery is lush and dense as you roll through the Cypress swamps. The train stops mysteriously now and...
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