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The World Is My Home
Cover of The World Is My Home
The World Is My Home
A Memoir
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Literary legend James A. Michener was “a Renaissance man, adventurous, inquisitive, unpretentious and unassuming, with an encyclopedic mind and a generous heart” (The New York Times Book Review). In this exceptional memoir, the man himself tells the story of his remarkable life and describes the people, events, and ideas that shaped it. Moving backward and forward across time, he writes about the many strands of his experience: his passion for travel; his lifelong infatuation with literature, music, and painting; his adventures in politics; and the hard work, headaches, and rewards of the writing life. Here at last is the real James Michener: plainspoken, wise, and enormously sympathetic, a man who could truly say, “The world is my home.”
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James A. Michener's Hawaii.
 
Praise for The World Is My Home
 
“Michener’s own life makes one of his most engaging tales—a classic American success story.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“The Michener saga is as full of twists as any of his monumental works. . . . His output, his political interests, his patriotic service, his diligence, and the breadth of his readership are matched only by the great nineteenth-century writers whose works he devoured as he grew up—Dickens, Balzac, Mark Twain.”Chicago Tribune
 
“There are splendid yarns about [Michener’s] wartime doings in the South Pacific. There are hilarious cautionary tales about his service on government commissions. There are wonderful inside stories from the publishing business. And always there is Michener himself—analyzing his own character, assessing himself as a writer, chronicling his intellectual life, giving advice to young writers.”The Plain Dealer
 
“A sweepingly interesting life . . . Whether he’s having an epiphany over a campout in New Guinea with head-hunting cannibals or getting politically charged by the melodrama of great opera, James A. Michener’s world is a place and a time worth reading about.”The Christian Science Monitor
Literary legend James A. Michener was “a Renaissance man, adventurous, inquisitive, unpretentious and unassuming, with an encyclopedic mind and a generous heart” (The New York Times Book Review). In this exceptional memoir, the man himself tells the story of his remarkable life and describes the people, events, and ideas that shaped it. Moving backward and forward across time, he writes about the many strands of his experience: his passion for travel; his lifelong infatuation with literature, music, and painting; his adventures in politics; and the hard work, headaches, and rewards of the writing life. Here at last is the real James Michener: plainspoken, wise, and enormously sympathetic, a man who could truly say, “The world is my home.”
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James A. Michener's Hawaii.
 
Praise for The World Is My Home
 
“Michener’s own life makes one of his most engaging tales—a classic American success story.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“The Michener saga is as full of twists as any of his monumental works. . . . His output, his political interests, his patriotic service, his diligence, and the breadth of his readership are matched only by the great nineteenth-century writers whose works he devoured as he grew up—Dickens, Balzac, Mark Twain.”Chicago Tribune
 
“There are splendid yarns about [Michener’s] wartime doings in the South Pacific. There are hilarious cautionary tales about his service on government commissions. There are wonderful inside stories from the publishing business. And always there is Michener himself—analyzing his own character, assessing himself as a writer, chronicling his intellectual life, giving advice to young writers.”The Plain Dealer
 
“A sweepingly interesting life . . . Whether he’s having an epiphany over a campout in New Guinea with head-hunting cannibals or getting politically charged by the melodrama of great opera, James A. Michener’s world is a place and a time worth reading about.”The Christian Science Monitor
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Excerpts-
  • From the book This will be a strange kind of autobiography because I I shall offer the first seven chapters as if I had never written a book, the last seven as if that were all I had done.
     
    I segregate the material in this way for two reasons: I want the reader to see in careful detail the kind of ordinary human being who becomes a writer and then to see the complex and contradictory motivations that enable him to remain one.
     
    I have been impelled to attempt this project because of an experience that occurred eighty years ago when I was a country lad of five, and was of such powerful import that the memory of it has never left me. The farmer living at the end of our lane had an aging apple tree that had once been abundantly productive but had now lost its energy and ability to bear any fruit at all. The farmer, on an early spring day I still remember, hammered eight nails, long and rusty, into the trunk of the tree. Four were knocked in close to the ground on four different sides of the trunk, four higher up and well spaced about the circumference.
     
    That autumn a miracle happened. The tired old tree, having been goaded back to life, produced a bumper crop of juicy red apples, bigger and better than we had seen before. When I asked how this had happened, the farmer explained: “Hammerin’ in the rusty nails gave it a shock to remind it that its job is to produce apples.”
     
    “Was it important that the nails were rusty?”
     
    “Maybe it made the mineral in the nail easier to digest.”
     
    “Was eight important?”
     
    “If you’re goin’ to send a message, be sure it’s heard.”
     
    “Could you do the same next year?”
     
    “A substantial jolt lasts about ten years.”
     
    “Will you knock in more nails then?”
     
    “By that time we both may be finished,” he said, but I was unable to verify this prediction, for by that time our family had moved away from the lane.
     
    In the 1980s, when I was nearly eighty years old, I had some fairly large rusty nails hammered into my trunk—a quintuple bypass heart surgery, a new left hip, a dental rebuilding, an attack of permanent vertigo—and, like a sensible apple tree, I resolved to resume bearing fruit. But before I started my concentrated effort I needed both a rationalization and a guide for the arduous work I planned to do.
     
    As had happened so frequently in my lifetime, I found the intellectual and emotional guidance I needed not in the Bible, into which I dipped regularly, but rather in the great English poems on which I had been reared and many of which I had memorized. I was particularly impressed by the relevancy of the opening lines of that splendid sonnet which young John Keats had penned when he feared, with good cause as events proved, that he might die prematurely, which he did, at age twenty-six:
     
    When I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
    Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
    Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain…
     
    How apt those words seemed because there was such a wealth of enticing subjects about which I wanted to write that my brain, too, could justly be termed teeming. But I was almost eighty years old; much of what I would like to do would have to be left unfinished. Since it took me about three years to write a long work, if I had thirty viable subjects the task would require ninety years. That would make me one hundred and seventy when I finished, and I...
About the Author-
  • James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 4, 1991
    Michener, a writer who has enjoyed enormous popular esteem, remains an elusive personality; and his memoir, though frank and open on the surface, brings us no closer to him. The book is considerably entertaining, for his storytelling skills are ever at work, from his wartime years as a young officer in the South Pacific to his service on various Washington committees, his world travels and his life as a successful writer. But it strikes one as unlikely that the reticent, unfussy, modest man he is at pains to portray could have mustered the determination and stamina to create the remarkable career he has enjoyed. Michener likes to see himself as Mr. Average, suggesting perhaps that anyone could have done what he has with what he acknowledges are only moderate gifts. But his accounts of his love of opera, painting and literature, and of the effort he made to educate himself in those arts, show him to be infinitely beyond the ordinary. His rigid standards of fiscal probity and his disdain for the limelight are also virtually unique among living authors, as is the generosity with which he has disposed of his considerable fortune to aid writers less well endowed. This is a frustrating book, then, because one wishes to know Michener better than he seems to know himself; but it will probably delight his many fans, even if it misleads them. Photos not seen by PW .

  • The Christian Science Monitor

    "Michener's own life makes one of his most engaging tales--a classic American success story."--Entertainment Weekly "The Michener saga is as full of twists as any of his monumental works. . . . His output, his political interests, his patriotic service, his diligence, and the breadth of his readership are matched only by the great nineteenth-century writers whose works he devoured as he grew up--Dickens, Balzac, Mark Twain."--Chicago Tribune "There are splendid yarns about [Michener's] wartime doings in the South Pacific. There are hilarious cautionary tales about his service on government commissions. There are wonderful inside stories from the publishing business. And always there is Michener himself--analyzing his own character, assessing himself as a writer, chronicling his intellectual life, giving advice to young writers."--The Plain Dealer "A sweepingly interesting life . . . Whether he's having an epiphany over a campout in New Guinea with head-hunting cannibals or getting politically charged by the melodrama of great opera, James A. Michener's world is a place and a time worth reading about."

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