Doing some associative writing as a kind of fortune hunt, for I truly don’t know what’s in my heart today. The act of writing serves me as a type of iron mole tunneling into the earth’s core, but with me aboard rather than David Innes and Abner Perry. My youth was misspent in nonsense reading. In 1979, a vast number of books by Burroughs were reissued with new covers, and these caught my eye in grocery store book stalls. My pubescent mind must’ve been in need of escape, for I spied A Princess of Mars at Oregon Foods and had to have it. Mom consented on the condition that it not be sexy. I was absolutely thrilled with the book, with cover illustration by Michael Whelan. After finishing it, I next found The Gods of Mars at Fred Meyer and The Warlord of Mars in Walden Bookstore. I read all three, plus Tarzan of the Apes, with cover by Neal Adams, in the luscious summer of 1979. Every morning I got up and read 14 or 21 pages of Tarzan or John Carter. Today I cannot fathom what was so enthralling about those Rice novels. Suffice it that I had an artist’s mind that hungered for visions of the human form, less in a psychological way than physical and aesthetic. The kindest thing I ever did for a young girl in seventh grade was draw a vigorous picture of Tarzan, inscribed to Paula S—, and give it to her. She looked upon this gift with wide dazzled eyes and put it away in her notebook. I actually drew it at her request, and like me when I first beheld the figure drawings of Burne Hogarth, she was amazed. It was as if the concreteness of the human form were enough for our youthful imaginations, without concern for moral abstraction. I remember how strong and fresh the impression of the summer sun was in the year 1979, the way it dappled the trees in the front yard outside my bedroom window. Every breath of summer wind was a caress to my open senses. It was one time in my life when nothing seemed to be wrong; when the experience of life was simple and as beautiful as the look in Paula’s big brown eyes.