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 →
by William Landay. You’ll also find this on my Favorites page. Read it long ago and it was a riveting account via criminal records of a family struggling with a troubled and dangerous son. A must read. Apple TV is now producing a series starring Michelle Dockery based on the book.
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.
by Hilary Mantel. The last of Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall, the first was the best. I’d even suggest reading it again or for the first time before reading this last. Bring Up the Bodies is the second and a disappointment, not as tightly written or compelling as Wolf Hall. They both won Booker Prize, but I didn’t agree with the second. Anyway. This one is a sturdy dense long story. It captivates at times yet meanders at others, delving into the inner thoughts and complexities of the… Read more The Mirror & The Light →