Life is In a Spin

Passing
Nella Larsen

Fifteen or so years ago I found myself on Main Street in downtown Flushing, NY at midday. The sidewalks were filled with crowds, some jostling their way between errands, some in search of lunch.

It’s an experience I can recommend because Flushing, which in my childhood had Jewish and Italian enclaves, is nowadays more than 50% Asian. To be in a crowd and be Continue reading

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Rat in a Drain Ditch

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Robert C. O’Brien, illustrations by Zena Bernstein

One of the great things about being a parent is revisiting the books you loved when you were a kid. I tell myself  I’m trying to decide whether a given title is age appropriate, but that’s just a rationalization.

The truth is, it’s a blast.

There are plenty of book that cross our threshold bearing Continue reading

Nobody Wants to Hear Him

Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It
Richard V. Reeves

You would think, by now, that I’d have learned my lesson . Should I really be surprised when, upon close reading, an author turns out to be engaged in the great game of careerism?

Last July, in writing about a David Brooks column, I mentioned the book pictured nearby, promising to get to Continue reading

In the Largest State of the Union

Tracks Across Alaska: A Dog Sled Journey
Alastair Scott

Obsessive is not a word I typically use to describe myself. Mrs. AHC, though, has been known to voice the belief that,  despite my demonstrated entropic tendencies, I suffer from OCD.

Settling that disagreement will have to wait, at least until I finish talking about the latest Alaska volume to cross my path. You may recall that venturing to Alaska has been a Continue reading

These are the Fables

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
J.K. Rowling

Sometimes the commercial aspects of publishing are more apparent than others. Take the book shown at right. In many ways it’s Exhibit A in making the case that publishers–and authors–will do whatever they can to extract every ounce of profit from a property.

It’s a classic marketing problem. With a successful franchise, people want more of the same. Publishers Continue reading

Every Cell in Chile Will Tell

Maya’s Notebook
Isabel Allende

At the height of the War on Drugs a dramatic television commercial appeared. Perhaps you’ve seen it.

A young woman held a frying pan and spoke about your brain on drugs . Then suddenly, with no warning, she started swinging the pan, destroying everything in the kitchen as she recited a litany of all the destruction drug use would bring.

You might take away any number of messages from the Continue reading

In Your Head, They’re Still Fighting

The Dead Republic
Roddy Doyle

My mother, encouraging my verbal side, stored my first grade writing assignments in the box my school uniform came in.  They’re in my basement now, but one’s missing.

Focusing on the core culture our family was built upon, it Continue reading