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Posts from the ‘Books and Essays’ Category

10
Dec

Jonathan Franzen Is Really The Great American Essayist

He’s not the richest or the most famous. His characters don’t solve mysteries, have magical powers or live in the future…but he shows us the way we live now.

Lev Grossman wrote those words for the cover of the August 23, 2010 cover of Time magazine, calling Jonathan Franzen “the great American novelist.” In the midst of the great recession when most people were thinking about the economy, unemployment, and the sinking real estate market, America needed a hero and with the recent publication of Franzen’s fourth novel, Freedom, Time magazine found their guy but fell short of naming him “Man of the Year” for writing what most critics considered great literature. Read more »

22
Nov

Anatole

The best children’s books are those that are both written and illustrated to communicate a cultural issue that allows children to think about what’s being presented to them. These books often display humor or assign human characteristics to animal characters to make children laugh and encourage communication since kids don’t always know how to verbalize what they are feeling. Read more »

19
Oct

The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy is the heartbreaking and heartwarming story of a young boy named Brian – a talented, creative, and quiet child who is all but invisible to the world around him, to his teacher who is preoccupied with the disruptive children, to his classmates playing kickball, and to the other kids in the lunchroom and classroom. Then, one day a boy named Justin joins Brian’s class.  Different from the other children, Justin eats Korean food (prepared by his grandmother) with chopsticks while the other children eat more traditional American lunches with their hands. Read more »

9
Oct

Manhattan Beach

Seven years ago in 2011, Jennifer Egan was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for A Visit From The Goon Squad  (Goon Squad) – a novel that wasn’t typical in its structure or story which left readers perplexed because aren’t novels supposed be about momentum and anticipation? Read more »

3
Sep

Less

There is an old Arabic story about a man who hears Death is coming for him, so he sneaks away to Samarra. And when he gets there, he finds Death in the market, and Death says “You know, I just felt like going on vacation to Samarra.  I was going to skip you today, but how lucky you showed up to find me! And the man is taken after all.

When the book “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2018, there were generally three camps of people: those who didn’t understand how this book won what many consider the most prestigious annual literary award in the world, those who totally got it, and the rest, myself included who didn’t understand why the book won until they got through most of the book and realized the brilliance is not only the story but also how it was told (note: I didn’t really like the book until I got to the end when the story came together brilliantly). Read more »

30
Aug

By Any Greens Necessary

Tracye Lynn McQuirter wrote “By Any Greens Necessarya revolutionary guide for black women who want to eat great, get healthy, lose weight, and look phat” – after realizing the link between race and nutrition.

McQuirter heard Dick Gregory speak at Amherst College in 1986 about the “plate of black Americans ” (and as the author duly notes, not the “state of black Americans,” and she realized that so much of what we eat is tied to the economical and political factors that influence our choices. Read more »

20
Aug

Who is Jeremy Dixon?

You may not have heard of Jeremy Dixon but you will. Dixon, a native New Zealander is the founder of Revive Cafe – restaurants serving delicious, fresh whole grain plant-based food in Auckland, the man behind Cook:30 – the 30 minute television series (www.3abn.org)  in which he makes a complete meal using fresh, wholesome plant-based ingredients, and the author of eight cookbooks (The Revive Cookbooks 1-6, and the Cook:30 Cookbooks 1 and 2). The guy is busy (it’s gotta be all that plant-based fuel)! Read more »

28
Jul

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

I am here. I need you to see me. I need you to see that I am here. You, world, cannot make me crumble. I am alive. I am alive. I am alive.

Clemantine Wamariya was born in 1988 in Rwanda and led an idyllic childhood until 1994, when civil war broke out between the Tutsi and Hutu (the two main groups of people residing in the country). Clemantine, six years old at the time, and her 15-year old sister, Claire were sent to live with their grandmother in the southern region of the country but when the war spread, the two young girls began a 6 year journey migrating through seven South African countries before being granted refugee status in the United States in 2000. Read more »

12
Jul

The Wife

Written by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife begins on an airplane, and specifically in seats 3A and 3B where Joe and Joan Castleman are sitting. The couple is on their way to Finland to attend the annual Helsinki Awards dinner where a prestigious literary award will be given to Joe, a distinguished well-respected American writer of fiction who previously won a Pulitzer for one of his books.

Narrated by Joan Castleman, the long-suffering wife who displays impatience for a husband who acts more like a baby than a man, while basking in the attention that goes along with being the wife of a man put on a pedestal, The Wife is the story of a marriage from the point of view of the wife.  By the second page of the novel, the reader learns that Joan has finally decided to leave Joe after more than 40 years of marriage, and all the reader can think about is why. Read more »

28
Jun

You Think It, I’ll Say It

You realize, don’t you, that you weren’t saying what I thought? You were saying what you thought.

You Think It, I’ll Say It is a collection of ten short stories written by Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld (who goes by Curtis Sittenfeld). Published in 2018, You Think It, I’ll Say It is hard to put down because the stories draw the reader in to the turmoil between what appears to be true and what is actually true.  Personal perspective, as determined by history and experience, is a key part of each story which only reinforces what we all know but sometimes forget:  most of us start out optimistic and naive; life experiences either strengthen us or bring bitterness and disillusionment which means that truth is often subjective. Read more »