by Emily St. John Mandel. A wide-ranging circular story with little to serve as a cohesive adhesive. Dense and beautiful in its style and prose, metaphorically rich. Yet. Lacking a certain heart or soul. Told from the perspective of several narrators. Vincent, a young girl turns woman from an isolated island off Vancouver. Her unlikeable uninteresting addict half-brother Paul. Enmeshed in a ripped-from-the headlines financial scheme. Other interesting characters bob in and out of this ocean of a tale. Snippets of many lives. Never fully lived. Somewhat connected ultimately in… Read more The Glass Hotel →
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 →
by Hannah McKinnon. A fun beach read set around Westerly, Watch Hill & Weekapaug in Rhode Island. Vacation communities of old money and generations of family summers. Appealing characters and enough drama to keep it going for a light-hearted romp.
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 →
by Hilary Mantel. Mantel’s memoir published in 2003. It is not for the feint of heart. Disturbing. Painful. Mesmerizing. Her life filled with physical and metaphysical challenges. The writing. As always. Sublime. It gives context to the Wolf Hall Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Spirits and souls.
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 →
Rodrigo Márquez is the son of Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Rodrigo writes a letter to his late father in today’s NYTimes. He wonders what Gabriel would think about the current coronavirus given his plots around an insomnia pandemic and cholera. Perhaps that luck and fate determine whether one suffers and dies alone or surrounded by love. Ironically, Rodrigo’s film Four Good Days about addiction was screened at Sundance this past January where it is said the… Read more Love in the Time of Corona →
by Delia Owens. Kya, The Marsh Girl. Tate, The Feather Boy. An intimate Russo-esque story of the rural North Carolina coast. Kya is a soulful, lone, smart, stealthy, strong, cunning observer and survivor. Tate her protector. She learns behavior from the natural wonders surrounding her shack, the insects and birds who are her world. Owens’ writing is engrossing and gorgeous. Her depth of descriptions of both the marshland and people alike. Unforgettable characters. A comforting isolation in these disquietingly isolating times. Glad I finally got to it. One of the… Read more Where the Crawdads Sing →