When we are writing we are often told to keep our readers in mind, to shape what we say to fit their tastes and interests. But there is one reader in particular who should not be forgotten. Can you guess who? Russell Baker surprised himself and everyone else when he discovered the answer.
Writing for Myself
Russell Baker
1 The idea of becoming a writer had come to me off and on since my childhood in Belleville, but it wasn't until my third year in high school that the possibility took hold. Until then I've been bored by everything associated with English courses. I found English grammar dull and difficult. I hated the assignments to turn out long, lifeless paragraphs that were agony for teachers to read and for me to write.

2 When our class was assigned to Mr. Fleagle for third-year English I anticipated another cheerless year in that most tedious of subjects. Mr. Fleagle had a reputation among students for dullness and inability to inspire. He was said to be very formal, rigid and hopelessly out of date. To me he looked to be sixty or seventy and excessively prim. He wore primly severe eyeglasses, his wavy hair was primly cut and primly combed. He wore prim suits with neckties set primly against the collar buttons of his white shirts. He had a primly pointed jaw, a primly straight nose, and a prim manner of speaking that was so correct, so gentlemanly, that he seemed a comic antique.

3 I prepared for an unfruitful year with Mr. Fleagle and for a long time was not disappointed. Late in the year we tackled the informal essay. Mr. Fleagle distributed a homework sheet offering us a choice of topics. None was quite so simple-minded as "What I Did on My Summer Vacation," but most seemed to be almost as dull. I took the list home and did nothing until the night before the essay was due. Lying on the sofa, I finally faced up to the unwelcome task, took the list out of my notebook, and scanned it. The topic on which my eye stopped was "The Art of Eating Spaghetti."

4 This title produced an extraordinary sequence of mental images. Vivid memories came flooding back of a night in Belleville when all of us were seated around the supper table ─ Uncle Allen, my mother, Uncle Charlie, Doris, Uncle Hal ─ and Aunt Pat served spaghetti for supper. Spaghetti was still a little known foreign dish in those days. Neither Doris nor I had ever eaten spaghetti, and none of the adults had enough experience to be good at it. All the good humor of Uncle Allen's house reawoke in my mind as I recalled the laughing arguments we had that night about the socially respectable method for moving spaghetti from plate to mouth.
这个题目在我脑海里唤起了一连串不同寻常的图像。贝尔维尔之夜的清晰的回忆如潮水一般涌来,当时,我们大家一起围坐在晚餐桌旁 ── 艾伦舅舅、我母亲、查理舅舅、多丽丝、哈尔舅舅 ── 帕特舅妈晚饭做的是意大利细面条。那时意大利细面条还是很少听说的异国食品。多丽丝和我都还从来没吃过,在座的大人也是经验不足,没有一个吃起来得心应手的。艾伦舅舅家诙谐有趣的场景全都重现在我的脑海中,我回想起来,当晚我们笑作一团,争论着该如何地把面条从盘子上送到嘴里才算合乎礼仪。

5 Suddenly I wanted to write about that, about the warmth and good feeling of it, but I wanted to put it down simply for my own joy, not for Mr. Fleagle. It was a moment I wanted to recapture and hold for myself. I wanted to relive the pleasure of that evening. To write it as I wanted, however, would violate all the rules of formal composition I'd learned in school, and Mr. Fleagle would surely give it a failing grade. Never mind. I would write something else for Mr. Fleagle after I had written this thing for myself. 突然我就想描述那一切,描述当时那种温馨美好的气氛,但我把它写下来仅仅是想自得其乐,而不是为弗利格尔先生而写。那是我想重新捕捉并珍藏在心中的一个时刻。我想重温那个夜晚的愉快。然而,照我希望的那样去写,就会违反我在学校里学的正式作文的种种法则,弗利格尔先生也肯定会打它一个不及格。没关系。等我为自己写好了之后,我可以再为弗利格尔先生写点什么别的东西。

6 When I finished it the night was half gone and there was no time left to compose a proper, respectable essay for Mr. Fleagle. There was no choice next morning but to turn in my tale of the Belleville supper. Two days passed before Mr. Fleagle returned the graded papers, and he returned everyone's but mine. I was preparing myself for a command to report to Mr. Fleagle immediately after school for discipline when I saw him lift my paper from his desk and knock for the class's attention.

7 "Now, boys," he said. "I want to read you an essay. This is titled, 'The Art of Eating Spaghetti.'"

8 And he started to read. My words! He was reading my words out loud to the entire class. What's more, the entire class was listening. Listening attentively. Then somebody laughed, then the entire class was laughing, and not in contempt and ridicule, but with open-hearted enjoyment. Even Mr. Fleagle stopped two or three times to hold back a small prim smile.

9 I did my best to avoid showing pleasure, but what I was feeling was pure delight at this demonstration that my words had the power to make people laugh. In the eleventh grade, at the eleventh hour as it were, I had discovered a calling. It was the happiest moment of my entire school career. When Mr. Fleagle finished he put the final seal on my happiness by saying, "Now that, boys, is an essay, don't you see. It's ─ don't you see ─ it's of the very essence of the essay, don't you see. Congratulations, Mr. Baker."
我尽力不流露出得意的心情,但是看到我写的文章竟然能使别人大笑,我真是心花怒放。就在十一年级,可谓是最后的时刻,我找到了一个今生想做的事。这是我整个求学生涯中最幸福的一刻。弗利格尔先生念完后说道:"瞧,孩子们,这就是小品文,懂了没有。这才是 ── 知道吗 ── 这才是小品文的精髓,知道了没有。祝贺你,贝克先生。"他这番话使我沉浸在十全十美的幸福之中。

Summer Reading
Michael Dorris
1 When I was fourteen, I earned money in the summer by cutting lawns, and within a few weeks I had built up a body of customers. I got to know people by the flowers they planted that I had to remember not to cut down, by the things they lost in the grass or stuck in the ground on purpose. I reached the point with most of them when I knew in advance what complaint was about to be spoken, which particular request was most important. (
  1) And I learned something about the measure of my neighbors by their preferred method of payment: by the job, by the month ─ or not at all. 夏日阅读
  1)而且,我从邻居偏爱的付款方式中了解到了一点他们的情况:有的按干的活儿给钱,有的按月支付 ─ 或者有的压根儿不付钱。

2 Mr. Ballou fell into the last category, and he always had a reason why. On one day he had no change for a fifty, on another he was flat out of checks, on another, he was simply out when I knocked on his door. Still, except for the money part, he was a nice enough old guy, always waving or tipping his hat when he'd see me from a distance. I figured him for a thin retirement check, maybe a work-related injury that kept him from doing his own yard work. Sure, I kept track of the total, but I didn't worry about the amount too much. (
  2) Grass was grass, and the little that Mr. Ballou's property comprised didn't take long to trim. 巴卢先生属于最后一类,而且他总有理由。有一天他兑不开一张五十元的钞票,又有一天他支票用完了,还有一天我上门时他干脆就溜出去了。撇开钱这档子事,他倒也还是个挺不错的老头,每次看见我,老远就挥手或脱帽致意。我猜他退休金不多,可能出过工伤,整不了自己的园子。没错,我全都记着账,可我对这点钱并没太在意。(

3 Then, one late afternoon in mid-July, the hottest time of the year, I was walking by his house and he opened the door, motioned me to come inside. The hall was cool, shaded, and it took my eyes a minute to adjust to the dim light. 到了一年中最热的七月中旬,一天傍晚前,我走过他家,他开了门,示意我进去。门厅里凉凉的,帘子遮去了阳光,过了一会儿我的眼睛才适应室内的暗淡光线。

4 "I owe you," Mr. Ballou began, "but…" "我欠你工钱,"巴卢先生开口道,"不过……"

5 I thought I'd save him the trouble of thinking up a new excuse. "No problem. Don't worry about it." 我想省得他费神找新的借口了, 就说: "没事。别放在心上。"

6 "The bank made a mistake in my account," he continued, ignoring my words. "It will be cleared up in a day or two. But in the meantime I thought perhaps you could choose one or two volumes for a down payment." "银行把我的账弄错了,"他没理我的碴儿,接着说,"一两天里就会改过来。在这当儿,我想你不妨挑一两本书作为我的首付款。"

7 He gestured toward the walls and I saw that books were stacked everywhere. It was like a library, except with no order to the arrangement. 他朝墙那边指了指,我这才发现到处都堆着书。就跟图书馆一样,只不过没有分门别类罢了。

8 "Take your time," Mr. Ballou encouraged. "Read, borrow, keep. Find something you like. What do you read?" "别着急,"巴卢先生鼓动说,"读也好,借也好,留着也行。
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