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


Going to the Place Our Father Has Made

Wills_futureThe Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis
Garry Wills

Walt Whitman taught me that contradicting myself was okay, even to be expected. So I long ago accepted that believing was part of my make-up and that, like it or not, I was a Catholic.

That doesn’t make me an apologist. Like all human institutions the Church has flaws. Some might say it’s all flaws. Garry  Wills, I’m pretty sure, would have a more optimistic outlook.

Wills is a professor of history (emeritus) at  Northwestern UniversityA member of my parent’s generation (born in 1934), married to the same woman for more than 50 years, Wills is more or less the  de facto go-to guy when it’s time to Continue reading

It’s Not Easy Being Green

The Irish Catholic Diaspora in America
Lawrence J. McCaffrey

The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The-Irish-Catholic-Diaspora-in-AmericaEver the outsider, I’m a poor example of an Irish Catholic American. No less an example of the breed than my mother regularly lamented my lack of respect for our heritage. She’d be appalled to know that after D. P. Moynihan the person I think has the best insight into the Irish problem is Dennis Leary. I have an excuse: my heritage is as much Czech as Irish. (As was mom’s.)

But this isn’t about me, it’s about Professor McCaffery‘s look at just what happened to my forebears as they made their way to and in Continue reading

Death and Magic: The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion

I’ve never particularly liked Joan Didion’s writing. Maybe I read it at the wrong time in my life. Maybe I didn’t appreciate the craft. Whichever, I had filed her away in the life’s too short to read any more drawer along with other notables who in my mind emerged during the 1960’s–Susan Sontag, Gore Continue reading