Martyrs and Me
I grew up very slowly in the country, obsessively shielded from the nasty details of life and death -- except for stories like this:
“He spent six months naked in the marshes, beset constantly by vicious blood-sucking flies and mosquitoes, in the hope of destroying his last bit of sexual desire. The terrible conditions and attacking insects left him so deformed that . . . they could recognize him only by his voice.”
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, while my siblings watched "Leave it to Beaver," "Flipper" and reruns of "The Howdy Doody Show," I gobbled up what I now recognize were the seeds of my love for obituaries and a fondness for graphic, colorful stories.
Stretched out on the gold plush carpet of my bedroom, I read and re-read Lives of the Saints, a small, thick, burgundy-colored book stamped in gold. It contained the life stories of virtuous people I was to emulate in order to get to Heaven.
Read the rest here. It's worth reading to the end, though it is not too long.