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(Courtesy The University of South Carolina Press)

New book: Dreamtime: A Happy Book, by Sam Pickering *70 (The University of South Carolina Press)

The author: An unconventional teacher who was the inspiration for the main character in Dead Poets Society, Pickering is an English professor at the University of Connecticut. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, he is the author of 24 other books.
The book: In his latest collection of essays, Pickering reflects on life — retirement, aging, gardening, and travel. In one essay, he meditates on “cheerfulness,” in another he describes discovering that he had a suspicious tumor, and in another essay he writes about the end of the school term and connecting with his students. Jay Parini, a professor at Middlebury College, called the collection “vintage Pickering: a mélange of wry humor, family stories, travelogue, natural observation, and remarkable wisdom.” Pickering wrote that he doesn’t  “presume to believe that I can make people think. What I hope is that this book will make some readers smile. Maybe a few people will pause and, glancing about, will marvel at ordinary life.”


From the book: “During the economic debacle my pension flew south and, drifting offshore, molted, most of its green feathers vanishing in the financial Sargasso Sea. Vicki is eleven years younger than me, and the money set aside for my retirement must take care of her after I’m dead. I don’t need to amass more money. What I must do for her is not munch any part of the plucked bird that remains. As a result I will teach until I peg out. When my marbles roll out the door, I will give all students As. Students are a simple, easily-satisfied species, and they will flock to my courses even though I am gaga.”