Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Book review: Kitchen Yarns, by Ann Hood (Amazon / Book Depository) When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life – loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love. Author Ann Hood is also a Laurie Colwin devotee, and her latest nonfiction essay collection, Kitchen Yarns, is beautifully similar to all … Continue reading Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

Book review: Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders, by Christopher Goffard (Amazon / Book Depository) Christopher Goffard, the journalist behind last year’s wildly popular Dirty John podcast, opens this frequently California-centric collection of his long-form investigative reporting with an introduction explaining the beginnings of his journalism career. It has to be among the best intros in recent memory. When I interview … Continue reading Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

Book review: The Dark Heart, by Joakim Palmkvist (Amazon / Book Depository) At summer’s end in 2012, an older, miserly farmer went missing from his farm in the Swedish countryside. The surrounding region is dubbed the “dark heart of Smaland,” in reference to its traditional conservatism and religious background. Palmkvist points out that it’s an apt expression for this story, at the heart of which … Continue reading An Unusual Investigation Reveals Sweden’s “Dark Heart”

The Many Phases of Michelle

Book review: Becoming, by Michelle Obama (Amazon / Book Depository) When you’re First Lady, America shows itself to you in its extremes. Michelle Obama’s life has had so many facets already: two Ivy League degrees, a successful career in corporate law, vice president of a hospital, nonprofit director, not to mention a mother, a role she cherishes. And then she became the First Lady of … Continue reading The Many Phases of Michelle

The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

Book review: American Overdose, by Chris McGreal Book Depository A former head of the Food and Drug Adminsitration has called America’s opioid epidemic, “one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine.” It is neither a mistake nor the kind of catastrophe born of some ghastly accident. It is a tragedy forged by the capture of medical policy by corporations and the failure of institutions in … Continue reading The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

Book review: The Eating Instinct, by Virginia Sole-Smith Book Depository Nutrition has become a permanently unsolvable Rubik’s Cube. So we read more books, pin more blog posts, buy more products, and sign up for more classes and consultations. And we don’t realize how many of the so-called experts guiding us through this new and constantly changing landscape are … fighting their own battles with food. … Continue reading How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

Be Very Afraid

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward (Amazon Book Depository) (I keep promising myself I’m not going to read any more of these Trump/White House books but I’m unable to resist, apparently.) Real power is fear.  That’s the mantra seeded throughout veteran political reporter and one-half of Woodward and Bernstein Bob Woodward’s diligently reported behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House. What does … Continue reading Be Very Afraid

A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

Book review: The Lady in the Cellar, by Sinclair McKay Book Depository Number 4, Euston Square, seemingly so prosperous, well-run and attractive, was a boarding house filled with unease; a house that was restless at night; a house with secrets. Soon it would seem like a gigantic doll’s house, open to examination by the entire nation. In Victorian London in 1879, a macabre discovery was … Continue reading A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Book review: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story. Journalist and author Susan Orlean began her latest book by investigating the devastating 1986 fire at Central Library in Los Angeles. By the time the fire was … Continue reading The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

Book review: The Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik Book Depository People do not pass away. / They die / and then they stay. Poet and author Marion Winik opens this second volume of creative short elegies to departed people she’s known, tinged with personal memoir, with those lines from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Voices in the Air”. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting … Continue reading Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Book review: On Sunset, by Kathryn Harrison (Amazon Book Depository) Never mind that we live in Los Angeles and that I was born in 1961; my childhood belongs to my mother’s parents, who, in the way of old people, have returned themselves to their pasts, taking me along. Author Kathryn Harrison writes a memoir of a slice of her childhood, a well-adjusted one considering some … Continue reading Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Memoir Essays of Abuse, Upbringing and Mental Illness from an Indigenous Voice

Book review: Heart Berries, by Terese Marie Mailhot I avoid the mysticism of my culture. My people know there is a true mechanism that runs through us. Stars were people in our continuum. Mountains were stories before they were mountains. Things were created by story. The words were conjurers, and ideas were our mothers. Terese Marie Mailhot is a woman of the First Nations in … Continue reading Memoir Essays of Abuse, Upbringing and Mental Illness from an Indigenous Voice