Voices: Summer Stories

  July 12, 2004

• Voices: Summer Stories
Dan Simmons ’70: An Author of Epic Proportions
The Nun I Dated

"Few events in a human being’s life—at least a male human being’s life—are as free, as exuberant, as infinitely expansive and filled with potential as the first day of summer when one is an 11-year-old boy.

The summer lies ahead like a great banquet and the days are filled with rich, slow time in which to enjoy each course."

So writes Dan Simmons ’70 in Summer of Night, a novel Wabash religion professor David Blix ’70 says "conjures up, like no other book I’ve read besides Huckleberry Finn, a wonderfully rich image of boyhood in a small Midwestern town during high summer, mixing memory and desire."

Such conjuring seems a fitting introduction to this collection of "Summer Stories" from Wabash students, alumni, faculty, and friends. Let the rest of Simmons’ summer morning put you in the mood:

"Awakening on that first delicious morning of summer, Dale Stewart had lain for a moment in that brief twilight of consciousness, already savoring the difference even before realizing what it was: no alarm clock or mother’s shout to rouse him and his brother, Lawrence, no gray, cold fog pressing at the windows and no grayer, colder school awaiting them at 8:30, no loud chorus of adult voices telling them what to do, what workbook pages to turn to, what thoughts to think. No, this morning there were the sound of birds, the rich, warm air of summer coming through screens, the sound of a lawnmower down the street as some early-rising retired person began the daily yard chores, and—already visible through the curtains—the rich, warm benediction of sunlight falling across Dale’s and Lawrence’s bed as if the barrier of the gray school year had been raised and color had been allowed to return to the world.

Dale had rolled to one side and seen his brother’s eyes open and staring above the glass-black eyes of his teddy bear. Then Lawrence had grinned that overbite-joyous grin of his, and the two boys were up, throwing their pajamas off in a rush, tugging on jeans and t-shirts waiting on nearby chairs, pulling on clean white socks and less-than-clean sneakers, and then were out, clattering down the stairs for a perfunctory breakfast, laughing with their mom over silly things, and then out again . . . onto their bikes, down the street, away, off into summer."