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Category: Essays

As An Aside

Ben Dolnick muses about his writing style in today’s New York Times. He often and purposefully uses parentheses and likens them now to the time we are in. Hope we get that coin and surface soon. A clause set off by em dashes is like dropping underwater while swimming breaststroke — just a quick dip before popping back to the sentence’s surface. A parenthetical clause is more like diving down to the pool bottom to pick up a coin. And a footnote is a full-blown scuba dive — you have… Read more As An Aside

Letter From a Region In My Mind

by James Baldwin, 1962. Excerpted from a longer essay in the latest edition of The New Yorker. Baldwin describes inner struggles with his race, religion, sexuality, and academic prowess as a young boy and man, growing up in Harlem. He describes how alienated he felt from his neighbors, finding their lifestyles scary yet seductive. From pimps to preachers, the streets were always tempting his fate. He finds temporary refuge as a young minister in a local church. But, he sees the leaders of these houses of worship as hypocritical as… Read more Letter From a Region In My Mind

Weird Christianity

by Tara Isabella Burton in today’s NYTimes. Many young people are returning to old-world religious ceremonies and traditions, as they call it bells & smells. Such is the Christmas Eve midnight mass at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine which has recently become an annual pilgrimage for my millennial son & me. Incense, candles, carols, organ, harp, saxophone, choir. Gorgeous and moving. We love it. Our son was raised nada, yet enjoyed holiday celebrations of his father’s Jewish family and my Catholic one. But. I’d go to a Latin mass… Read more Weird Christianity

A Metaphor for New York Now

Gabrielle Hamilton’s poignant piece in the NYTimes is one of the best reads in months. An acclaimed James Beard-winning restaurateur for 20 years, for her East Village restaurant Prune, Hamilton is also a great writer. A New York Restaurant Story   Hamilton’s book Blood, Bones & Butter a Book-Treks favorite.

Reference Books

These books/essays are a constant source of reference: American Elitism- Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance Being Black in America- Ruby, Cynthia Bond College Sports Cabal– I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe Oligarchies– Snowdrops, A.D. Miller Cooking– Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl Evolution of terrorism– Homefire, Kamila Shamsie Writing Prizes– Lost for Words, Edward St. Aubyn Cruises- Shipping Out, David Foster Wallace Banks Too Big Yet Failed- The Perfect Prey, Jeroen Smit

Empire Falls Revisited

One of Book Trek’s favorite authors, Richard Russo’s essay in today’s New York Times discusses how difficult it has been and remains to write about school shootings. Russo’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Empire Falls was published after Columbine, yet was written years before. It culminated in a scene in the local high school where a lone bullied boy turns his anger on classmates. Since then that scenario is all too common with little changed in the character of the shooter or reasons for his alienation. Broken Record Alert! Until America Loves… Read more Empire Falls Revisited

Cruise Prose

Michael Ian Black’s recent New York Times column cemented my decision to never take a cruise. So Uncool, It’s Cool. Not. He liked the mindless ordinariness. All I could focus on were the stairs, elevators and confining crowded decks, “surrounded by a thousand fleshy strangers in swimsuits”,   yuk!  Everything I thought bad seems to be true. However, he linked a 1997 essay by David Foster Wallace, Shipping Out, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Wallace’s solo adventure on the megaliner Zenith, which he dubbed the Nadir. It was one of… Read more Cruise Prose