If we were to accept the notion that the individual body is a microcosm of the world, and a person’s disease and illness can be mirrored in the ruin of the broader world, then we would have no trouble believing that somehow, each of us struggles between the proclivity for self-destruction and the perpetual hope for healing and survival. If we’ve ever thought about the parallels between these two organisms – the body and the world, then we would have no trouble tracing the logic of Kamilah Aisha Moon’s second collection of poems, Starshine & Clay.
What of a land where people’s lives are thwarted at every turn, where prospects are determined by party status, where movements are restricted by permits, orders, and decrees, where “justice” is meted out mercilessly, and against which there is no recourse.
The son of a Polish-American father and Chinese immigrant mother, Thaddeus Rutkowski, along with his brother and sister, grew up in rural Central Pennsylvania. A thoughtful, intelligent child, Thaddeus had a love of nature and books and excelled at school, but was unpopular with his classmates, mostly because of his intelligence.
America, wrote Ishmael Reed in his 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo, is “mercurial, restless, violent ... the travelling salesman who can sell the world a Brooklyn Bridge every day, can put anything over on you”.
In an arena of fans and critics primed for the often-bloody sport of declamation, it takes much nerve to attempt to tell the definitive story of a major literary figure. But with Chester B. Himes: A Biography, author Lawrence Jackson lays his game down flat and provides the most wonderful and illuminating portrait of Himes that we are likely to get.
I turn fifty this year—a distinction I share with The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the famed Summer of Love… and the Six Day War that brought victory to the state of Israel and began the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights that continues down to this day. Sgt. Pepper holds up well enough, but most fans now prefer Revolver or Rubber Soul; the Summer of Love very quickly turned to the Winter of Discontent in 1968; the Occupation sadly remains the same, a seemingly perpetual trap for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Things to Do when You’re Goth in the Country, opts for a much wider canvas, centering (with one interesting exception) on a broader range of Midwest types, from young lesbians dropping acid in St. Louis to a set of church matrons discussing church business to a jailed, addled druggie musing on blood in the sky.
Unsung heroes have become a common theme for African-American literature and movies in the modern age. The Help, Hidden Figures and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks focus on the black struggle and unsung women who helped changed the world.
When I was thirteen years old, I hated Emily Dickinson. A great English teacher named Neil Selden introduced me to two of her poems: "I'm nobody. Who are you?" and "Hope is the thing with feathers." I hated the idea of being nobody. At thirteen, I desperately wanted to be somebody, like most children do at that age.
Sarah Van Gelder reminds me of myself when she starts her book, The Revolution Where You Live: Stories From A 12,000 Mile Journey Through A New America. When she was seven, her father took his family along on exchange to a university at Andra Prades, India. While there, she formulated some questions that I also pondered in my early years: “Why do we tolerate so much suffering?
Swing Time, the fifth novel from Zadie Smith, is a novel about little girls and the women they become; it’s about racial and class divides, but more importantly, friendship. Smith tackles big, complicated themes in this work
Like that other Bible, the Holy one, if you suspend your disbelief (in the banality of modern art) you can open this book to any page and find inspiration. As for being ‘Outlaw,’ now that our elites are illiterate, how long before ‘outlaw book’ is a redundancy?
In order to gain a sense of order and existential clarity, people often look for comfort and certainty by putting themselves in exotic or geographical distances. Traveling, for example, is one of those activities that cultivates and educates, and it seems that everyone wants to do it.
It seems that the real story of the modern and contemporary culture (arts and letters) in Iran starts somewhere in the second decade of the 20th century, more precisely in 1925 when Reza Khan took over the royal throne from the ancient Ahmad Shah of the Qadjar dynasty.
ome of the funniest moments in Jade Chang’s first novel, The Wangs vs. the World, are the offhand ones, such as when the Chinese-American family named in the title realizes they don’t know the name of the woman who raised most of them.
Kevin Jack McEnroe’s 2015 novel, Our Town, is an impressive debut; it is beautifully written and heartfelt. It is also a page-turner, but not at all a potboiler. There is tremendous substance and heart underneath the beautiful prose
Originally published in 1998, Katherine Arnoldi’s The Amazing “True” Story of a Teenage Single Mom is packaged and blurbed in a manner that reflects the “Wham! Pow! Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore” narrative that still afflicted comics at the time.
This book is a fine read. What one mighthave thought would have been a trip through real estate jargon or the behemoth ego of a self made bazillionaire and highly auccesful multi-tasker, is instead a captivating and at times emotionally wrenching journey through the diverse interests of an extraordinary life.
Madeleine Thien’s epic third novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, set in 2016, is framed by the search for a missing person, Ai-ming, a young woman who came from China to stay with the Chinese-Canadian narrator, Marie, and her mother in Vancouver in 1990, when Marie was eleven years old.