Put them on your wish list, assign them as gifts and buy early so you can read them before you have to give them up, I suggest you keep them for your self. They are among the best of the year.

My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir by Brian Turner is the perfect gift for readers interested in how men think and feel in war and stress by an author who is a protein poet and who served two tours in Iraq. Because he is a poet, what he writes is not confined to only his experience; it is universal. Men, whatever you think of them, are well served in this book.

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, A Biography by John Lahr is the best biography of a writer I have read; and I have read a hell of a lot of biographies. The man, his family, his neuroses, his early struggles as a writer, his successes and collaboration with Elia Kazan, his failures, and cannibalization of himself are all woven together as one great American narrative of one of our greatest playwrights. To enjoy to the fullest any of his plays, you need to first read this book. Before you put the book down, you will be eating fruit cake, drinking martinis, and swiming through the massive genius of Thomas Lanier Williams III we know as Tennessee Williams.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson again brings us full frontal with the enormity of what we think of as the small lives of unimportant people; but the author does it with a tenderness that is never false, and is always empathetic. She is the author Home and Gilead; and she has again returned to the bare town of Gilead, Iowa. She makes you wish you knew the townspeople; and of course your wish confirms you already know them. She demonstrates how imperfect, people deal with unanswerable questions; they live with them by getting up and attending to the duties of the day.

Undeniably we live in a time of great writing. The riches seem to overwhelm us; still, it is a happy gluttony. Charles Marlin


For seventeen consecutive years the Clarion University Chapter of APSCURF, The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Retired Faculty, has awarded memorial scholarships through Clarion University Foundation honoring their deceased colleagues. The Memorial Resolution for 2014-2015 is as follows.

Whereas, The Clarion University Chapter of APSCURF approved on October 23, 2013, one annual memorial scholarship fo $1,000;

Resolved, That the 2014-2015 scholarship be designated a memorial for our deceased colleagues

Vahe H. Berberian 12/25/13 Music
Rafael Diaz y Diaz 09/11/14 Modern Languages
Dean Alan Farnham 11/07/13 Music
Francis Gabriel Greco 01/11/14 English
Gail F. Grejda 05/13/14 Education
James E. Holden 11/09/13 Computer Science
Jack I. Lowe 06/17/14 Law
Russell Charles Reefer Jr 10/04/14 Music
Jean Pehrson Rumsey 05/14/14 Philosophy
Kay Schlappe 03/10/14 Psychology
C. Darrel Sheraw 03/27/14 English
Glenn L. Sitzman 02/08/13 Library
William Frederick Stine 01/28/14 Economics


First Photograph, left to right: Jamie Lafever, Trenton Moulin, and Mike Vereb. Mike and Sally Vereb hosted the September 17th meeting of the Clarion County Community Foundation Board of Directors at Lincoln Hall, a historic performance space above the Foxburg Free Library. Sally made pizzas and chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen of the Button House and brought them across the street to our delight. The Board has never been treated so well or met in so charming a space.

Second Photograph, left to right: Barry McCauliff, Bill Kaufman, Janice Horn, and Hal Wassink. Following our meeting we toured the Button House, a Depression Era home of double plank construction Mike and Sally have restored and decorated in period furnishings to display some of Sally’s vast collection of buttons.

Third Photograph, left to right: Jamie Lafever, Clara Belloit, Jerry Belloit, and Sally Vereb. Sally gave us a brief introduction and then we wandered throughout the house. The buttons decorate every room and are organized by time, fashion, material, and subject matter.

Fourth Photograph, altogether: Charles Marlin and Sally Vereb. We asked lots of questions and had an aw-shucks time. It would be difficult not to enjoy a tour of the Button House which Sally offers during the summer months. Call her at (724) 659-0180 or do the email thing at buttons@thebuttonhouse.com

Fifth Photograph: Depression Era aprons at the Button House. The tours are free; but there is a “Donations Appreciated” bowl in the living room. You can skip the bowl if you bring Sally a bag of buttons; or as I discovered, Sally has a second weakness for Depression-Style aprons. Find her a good one, and bring it along.

Please don’t expect Sally to make pizzas for you as she only does that for very “special” occasions. Around the corner from the Button House is the Foxburg Pizza Place, the Allegheny Grille, Foxburg Wine Cellars, and Divani Chocolatier (and ice cream parlor). You will not leave Foxburg hungry. Charles Marlin

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The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists by Stephen Eric Bronner is a big little book, meaning a lot of valuable insight, historical context, and useful distinctions for a murky subject. It will help clarify thoughts; but it does not offer a solution, unless self-education and self-awareness is as close to one an individual is ever likely to get. If the reader has the habit of underlining important passages and adding marginalia, give it up because there will be no white space left on any page.

A sense of the scope of the book can be taken from the Appendix: Beginnings, that lists books and films for further study, organized by topics: Modernity, Anti-Semitism, Sexism, Racism, Gay Life, The True Believer, The Elitist, The Chauvinist, Islamopholia, Fanaticism, and Intolerance. His definitions distinguish between bigot, chauvinist, elitist, and racist, whether dressed in outdated attire or the latest political cover. He does not spare names. Charles Marlin


It’s wacky. It’s eccentric. It’s funny. It’s touching. It’s informative. It’s the fifteen year romance of Mumble Tawny and the English author Martin Windrow as told by him two decades later in The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl. Reflecting on my lifetime of reading I wish I had kept as a library collection all the bird books I have read because it would be a delight to find space among them for this one.

The English are, well they are what they are, so it was comfortable to fall into his telling of their life together, he and Mumble; and to accept the proposition that a successful author and editor would cheerfully clean up bird poop for so long in order to have an alert, expectant, dependent, independent, expressive, and often inscrutable companion to come home to every evening without fail. Not all lovers are so rewarding, and loyal in a caged sort of way.

Whether you are into birds, lovers, or perhaps both, you will find this book is far more enjoyable than reading about the royals, who seem to be feathers in search of a bird. Charles Marlin


Punxsutawney Area Community Foundation is alive and now serving their community as of Thursday, June 5th, when the foundation president, Katie Laska, signed the affiliate agreement with Bridge Builders Community Foundations.  Bridge Builders Trustee President, Charles Marlin, signed for Bridge Builders, and foundation vice president, Michele Neal, witnessed the signing along with Bridge Builders’ Executive Director, Trenton Moulin, and Administrative Assistant, Lauren Lupinacci.  The signing was topped off with pizza at Laska’s Pizza.

To welcome its new neighbor, the Clarion County Community Foundation authorized an immediate transfer of $1,000. to the PACF Unrestricted Grants Endowment, so only minutes old the foundation is working for the community.  In the weeks, months, and years ahead, all of the community will learn the services and benefits of having a locally controlled and locally sensitive community foundation.  By affiliating with Bridge Builders, the community foundation in turn gains the stability of professional administration and strength in size.

PACF joins Clarion County CF, Forest County CF, and Venango Area CF, and together they send trustees who serve on the Board of Trustees of BBCF.  Each community controls its own affiliate, and the affiliates together control the umbrella administration for all the affiliates.  BBCF is headquartered in the National Transit Annex, 206 Seneca Street, Oil City PA 16301.  The phone is (814) 677-8687.

Although new, the PACF has a history.  Many community citizens have worked and agitated for a community foundation, some for a long time and others are new to the cause.  Pictures, names, and stories should be collected so that remembering the founders is always honored.  One of the wonderful services a community foundation provides is a means for remembrance and memorial.  The founders are worthy of the community’s thanks and honor.
Photographed at the signing are, left to right, Charles Marlin, Michele Neal, and Trenton Moulin.  Charles Marlin

Well researched pop psychology books are a delight to read. They don’t require an understanding of research design, statistics, or comparison studies. They don’t require a reader to become a zealot advocate of any part or the whole. They are always about something that touches most everyone, presented in a breezy style. They bring fresh news of what is happening in university and medical research. They almost always confirm some personal experiences for the reader; and they are great bedtime reading because they can be read in short bits.

Here is a doozy of a pop written by two authors who are products of their own theory on how to raise successful children, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. Even when I tell the three components I have not spoiled the book for the reader because the authors deal with the flip side of each component as well as the rewards and underside of their theory of group and familial superiority. Quoting from the dust cover, “A superiority complex, insecurity, impulse control: these are the elements of the Triple Package, the rare and potent cultural constellation that drives disproportionate group success.”

If you are trying to cross over the parental mountain pass to bring your children to the land of success and prosperity, you may wish to change some of your behavior after reading the book. You will certainly spend some time thinking about your parenting skills and their grownup consequences. Happy reading. Charles Marlin