What If We Just Dance Until We’re 69?

When I was a teenager in the '80s, I could seriously rock a black velvet babydoll and faux leather tights. When the parent organization at my children’s school hosted an ‘80s-themed “Parent Prom,” I discovered that in my advancing middle years, given the dress, the tights, and some black Chuck Taylors, I can still rock it. … Continue reading What If We Just Dance Until We’re 69?

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Book Review: The Maid’s Version, by Daniel Woodrell

The Maid’s Version appeared last fall, Daniel Woodrell’s followup to Winter’s Bone (2006) and the acclaimed short-story collection The Outlaw Album (2011). Winter’s Bone had taken the breath out of a literary world grown content with the divide between “commercial fiction” and “serious literature.” The novel achieved the rarest of literary feats, offering an accessible … Continue reading Book Review: The Maid’s Version, by Daniel Woodrell

The “Family Thrillers” Shelf

Want to make a successful novelist squirm? Ask her to shelve her own novel at the bookstore. Kelly Braffet (Save Yourself), Carla Buckley (The Deepest Secret), Jenny Milchman (Ruin Falls), and Therese Walsh (The Moon Sisters) have craft skills galore, street-smarts, and publishing contracts with “Big Five” companies--success by any definition. Their passion to reach … Continue reading The “Family Thrillers” Shelf

Stunted Radishes and Crooked Trees

This post is continued from If Plants Can’t Think, How Do They Develop Such Beautiful Habits? from last month. It’s a great time to be a plant, a hard time to be a gardener--or an elementary school teacher, as it happens. Both plants and children grow wild in the spring. Weedy, fast, invasive of places … Continue reading Stunted Radishes and Crooked Trees

If Plants Can’t Think, How Do They Develop Such Beautiful Habits?

As I set up my little table at the back of the store, my expectations were modest. The evening’s topic, and the name of the book I’d been asked to sell, was Thinking Like a Plant. The room filled with gardeners of all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience. Along with the attendees, I was … Continue reading If Plants Can’t Think, How Do They Develop Such Beautiful Habits?

George Coleman at Dizzy’s on a Weeknight

George Coleman took the stage at 10. Elderly, tottering to the bandstand. He should have had a cane. Black elastic-waist athletic pants, eyes a little vague. He struggled to step up, so inept, so clearly weak in the legs that he seemed in real danger of falling. I was at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola with my … Continue reading George Coleman at Dizzy’s on a Weeknight

Why I Should Be In a YA Book Club

Lots of adult readers love to sink their teeth into a good teen novel, and it isn’t always because they want simple stories that satisfy nostalgic cravings. (We have Nicholas Sparks for that, after all.) Katniss Everdeen’s story in The Hunger Games is neither simple nor neat; and if the characters in Rainbow Rowell’s young … Continue reading Why I Should Be In a YA Book Club

Book Reviews: “Eleanor & Park” and “Fangirl”, by Rainbow Rowell

I owe Magnificent Nose about 1000 words on these sparkling, sweet-ass novels by Rainbow Rowell, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Rowell’s novels are not only a dream-come-true for seekers of smart, surprising YA literature, but offer the kind of writing that makes a writer want to write forever. Eleanor & … Continue reading Book Reviews: “Eleanor & Park” and “Fangirl”, by Rainbow Rowell

A Filipino Christmas: Family Seen and Unseen

“Why do Filipinos send Christmas cards to the dead?” I asked my mother. She was doing the daily crossword puzzle in my kitchen, just before Thanksgiving. “What?” She drew her brows together, kept her eyes on the crossword. “We don’t.” “Sure you do. You always sent Lola a Christmas card and a birthday card. Delia … Continue reading A Filipino Christmas: Family Seen and Unseen

Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally (or, “Yes, Baby Fish Mouth, This Is a Holiday Film”)

Surprised to find this 1989 Rob Reiner/Nora Ephron classic on the holiday movie lists? Well, why not? When Harry Met Sally is snappily written, gracefully directed, and lusciously filmed, with a rich dollop of holiday atmosphere--on the side, to quote Sally Albright. Two Christmas and New Year’s seasons, a year apart, bookend the last hour … Continue reading Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally (or, “Yes, Baby Fish Mouth, This Is a Holiday Film”)