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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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

Goin’ Up the Country

How Right You Are, Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse

Applesauce. Until now it hadn’t occurred to me that this seasonal comestible could function as a curse word.

That’s why Wodehouse can fill a couple of library shelves and I…well, you can figure that next bit out for yourself. It helps, of course, that he has the perfect delivery Continue reading

This is My Quest

The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkein

Maybe I felt left out. Maybe I decided a second look was in order. Maybe I just decided that, having spent some pleasurable time with an author, I’d see if a return visit with his best friend proved likewise.

There was, though,  a potential hiccup: broadly speaking, I Continue reading

Livin’ in a Fool’s Paradise

Paradise News
David Lodge

It seems appropriate to finish a book about vacation while on one. Except that the trip at the center of this book is hardly a vacation and the drive just taken to Atlanta and back was made possible by an extended disengagement from the world of work.

But enough carping. Vacation is supposed to be a happy Continue reading