Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

Buttermilk Graffiti, by Edward Lee This says a lot about who we are as a culture now; we care about the person behind the recipes. For us, it is important to know as much about the cook as we do about his or her dishes. Cookbooks are living traditions. They reflect back to us who we are, as individuals, as a culture. Edward Lee is … Continue reading Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

The Subtle Joys of Traveling Alone

Book review: Alone Time, by Stephanie Rosenbloom What follows are impressions of four journeys; a love letter to loners, to witches and shamans, to those who cherish their friends, spouses, and partners yet also want alone time to think, create, have an adventure, learn a skill, or solve a problem…find your “thinking path,” to discover what you want from your own solitary moments. New York … Continue reading The Subtle Joys of Traveling Alone

New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell In 1956 there was no such thing as criminal profiling; nobody could recall an instance when the police had consulted a psychiatrist. It was a collaboration fabricated in detective novels, but never found in real life. Every one of today’s profilers, real or televised, traces his or her lineage back to the psychiatrist who depicted the serial bomber with … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Observational Essays on Neighbors, Health, Gossip Girl Gossips, and Sometimes the Mundane

Book review: Look Alive Out There, by Sloane Crosley Sloane Crosley’s new essay collection is the first of her work I’ve read, despite her popularity, particularly for her personal essays, and having recognized her name when she made a cameo on Gossip Girl (I’ve recently admitted my shame over this, let’s not dwell on it.) I definitely needed a lighthearted essay collection when I read … Continue reading Observational Essays on Neighbors, Health, Gossip Girl Gossips, and Sometimes the Mundane

Obsession on the Upper East Side

Book review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me, by Piper Weiss In this Gossip Girl meets true crime hybrid memoir, the story of Gary Wilensky, private tennis coach to wealthy Manhattan teenagers who made a thankfully unsuccessful abduction attempt of one his students, is recounted alongside the author’s growing pains. She had been his student too. In spring of 1993, Wilensky tried to execute a thoroughly … Continue reading Obsession on the Upper East Side

Heartening Anecdotes of Cooking and Life, Disastrous and Otherwise

Book review: Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin Originally published 1988, this collection of memoir-centric essays on cooking and life is insightful, funny, surprisingly practical and helpful, and still fresh and relevant thirty years later. Beloved novelist Laurie Colwin loved being in the kitchen, especially cooking for other people. She has an upbeat, happy sense of humor that infuses her stories, often making jokes at her … Continue reading Heartening Anecdotes of Cooking and Life, Disastrous and Otherwise

Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Book review: Iphigenia in Forest Hills, by Janet Malcolm Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a well reported account of a 2009 murder trial by renowned journalist Janet Malcolm. The victim at the center was dentist Daniel Malakov, who in 2007 was shot on a playground allegedly on the orders of his wife, Mazoltov Borukhova, a respected doctor in Forest Hills, Queens. Malakov’s death was witnessed by the … Continue reading Janet Malcolm Observes a Murder Trial

Walking a Mile in the Shoes of Chinese Immigrants in Queens

Book review: Patriot Number One, by Lauren Hilgers Journalist Lauren Hilgers was somewhat surprised when an acquaintance from her years spent working in Shanghai showed up on her Brooklyn doorstep one evening. The man, Zhuang Lehong, was a Chinese activist-labeled-dissident who had traveled to the United States with his wife, Little Yan, planning to seek asylum. Hilgers profiled their experience in the asylum process while … Continue reading Walking a Mile in the Shoes of Chinese Immigrants in Queens

Bouviers Behaving Badly

Book review: Jackie, Janet & Lee, by J. Randy Taraborrelli I’m not sure why I wanted to read this so intensely, as I’ve never read anything Kennedy or Bouvier-related before and I’m not generally interested in them. (I like Bobby though, he seemed like a good egg.) I’m more interested in the weird, Grey Gardens-y stories that surround them and their family histories. This new biography frames … Continue reading Bouviers Behaving Badly

Poetic Explorations of American Culture, History, Race, and the Downsides of NYC

Book review: Notes from No Man’s Land, by Eula Biss I discovered Eula Biss’s confrontational but melodic, intelligent and analytical writing in the collection Tales of Two Americas. It’s a great collection of essays, stories, and poems all dealing somehow with various aspects of American inequality. She contributed a piece about the concept of white debt, and how it’s not something that can be repaid simply by saying … Continue reading Poetic Explorations of American Culture, History, Race, and the Downsides of NYC

A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning

Book review: The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity. Those words were the first that Joan Didion wrote after her husband’s death. In case you’ve never heard of it, The Year of Magical Thinking is journalistic legend Didion’s highly praised, often stream of consciousness-style literary … Continue reading A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning