SHORT TAKES : Haley Lumbered Into Writing

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

Alex Haley says he may not have become a writer if his parents and grandparents had not given him a foot-thick slice from a California redwood as a gift 60 years ago.

The tree slice had small white markers illustrating the tree’s growth, Haley says in the Sept. 2 issue of Parade magazine.

“I was told that, if I read all I could, whenever I found something notably historic, then that could become another marker in my slice of tree,” he said.

“From then on, I read every book I could handle, along with my grandpa’s newspapers for black people,” he said. “Today, I absolutely believe that the reading inspired by the tree slice greatly influenced my becoming an author. It is also why I like most of all to write about historical subjects.”