- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

The day after tomorrow we celebrate the first day of a brand-new year, and we can only hope that 2007 will bring a shade more joy and prosperity than the preceding year. • • •

Esquire’s January cover story on 25-year-old triple amputee Bryan Anderson is a heroic and inspirational tale. There is no self-pity, just a singularly strong mother who stayed at the Iraqi war veteran’s side throughout a year of rehab. The cover photo of the handsome youth holding his Purple Heart in his prosthetic left hand tears at your heart.

By the time he woke up in Walter Reed Hospital after receiving 120 units of blood (the adult human body contains roughly 12 units of whole blood), he actually had forgotten he had lost his limb. “I went to scratch my face with my left hand. I looked up at the ceiling and said, ‘You couldn’t have given me a break?’ My mom said nobody is allowed to cry in front of me, and they didn’t.”

If the testimonial to Mr. Anderson’s mother is as discreet and heartfelt as possible, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk’s tribute to his father in his lecture at his award presentation in Oslo this year is stunning proof of his literary gifts. • • •

In its Winter Fiction issue of Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, the New Yorker fittingly has run the address in full in an admirably smooth translation. Two years before his death in 2002, Mr. Pamuk’s father came by to leave a small suitcase filled with manuscripts and notebooks. For several days, Mr. Pamuk writes, he couldn’t bring himself to open it out of fear that he might not like what he would read.

By the time his father had given him his own writings, Mr. Pamuk had been a successful writer for 25 years — a period when his father had not taken literature seriously, which pained the author considerably.

What bothered him most was the fear that he would discover his father was a good writer. If this were the case, he would have to regard his father differently from the man he had known all his life. From this point, Mr. Pamuk proceeds to deliver a wonderful analysis of what being a writer means.

Reading this splendid piece — one of the finest the New Yorker has published in years — may lead many an unacquainted reader to seek out Mr. Pamuk’s works. All are available in paperback.

• • •

Despite the encouraging recent prognosis on the state of Fidel Castro’s health from a leading Spanish surgeon, the future of Cuba is still very much in the air. What better time for Foreign Affairs to feature an article titled “Fidel’s Last Victory” (in its January/February issue).

Julia Sweig, director of Latin American Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, informs readers she was last in Havana in November, having traveled more than 30 times to the island since 1984. She assumes Mr. Castro’s death is imminent.

Her bottom line after a fairly detailed discussion of U.S.-Cuban relations is: “Fidel has taught his successors well” and his achievements “will endure”after his death. She is not optimistic about Washington’s dealing with post-Castro Cuba and fears many more years of hostility between the two countries.

• • •

In the January issue of the Smithsonian it looks very much as if writer Owen Edwards has uncovered the secret behind “Rosebud,” the last word uttered by Charles Foster Kane on his deathbed in Orson Welles’ iconic film “Citizen Kane.”

Mr. Edwards traces how a donation of a Lakota Indian sled made out of buffalo ribs may well hold the key to the mysterious utterance. It seems the sled was a gift in 1961 to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City from Mr. and Mrs. Alfred A. Frantz. Mr. Frantz married a Lakota Sioux whose family name was Yellow Robe.

Mr. Edwards discovered that Yellow Robe worked at CBS Radio at the same time Mr. Welles did in the 1930s, and her first name was Rosebud. The “Citizen Kane” sled certainly was not made of buffalo bones, but how curious that Mr. Welles retained the name of Rosebud. A playful touch of private mystery on his part?

An appealing thought. Happy new year.

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