A Tour Through the Crimes and Criminals of Belle Époque Paris

Book review: The Crimes of Paris, by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler (Amazon / Book Depository) The disappearance of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre stunned Parisians, who had long dismissed any impossible task with the remark that doing so ‘would be like trying to steal the Mona Lisa.’ The central defining event in The Crimes of Paris, by husband-and-wife historians Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, is the 1911 … Continue reading A Tour Through the Crimes and Criminals of Belle Époque Paris

12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look Forward to in Fall 2019

How has your nonfiction reading been so far this year? I’ve read so many good ones! A list of midyear favorites is coming around the end of the month. But as we reach the year’s mid-point, I already can’t wait to look ahead at what’s coming out in fall. Here’s some of the new nonfiction coming later this year that’s caught my eye. The Ghosts of … Continue reading 12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look Forward to in Fall 2019

Art and Anecdotes from One Year in Paris

Book review: A Paris Year, by Janice MacLeod (Amazon / Book Depository) Bonjour Bonjour Ça va Ça va Ça va Ça va Bonjour Bonjour. It’s really that easy to have an entire conversation in French. There is no waving hello. This is not the French way. When you wave hello their eyes follow your hand like a litter of kittens. Non. They prefer words. Janice … Continue reading Art and Anecdotes from One Year in Paris

Rhapsodizing Blue

Book review: Bluets, by Maggie Nelson (Amazon / Book Depository) Last night I wept in a way I haven’t wept for some time. I wept until I aged myself. I watched it happen in the mirror. I watched the lines arrive around my eyes like engraved sunbursts; it was like watching flowers open in time-lapse on a windowsill. I fell in love with Maggie Nelson … Continue reading Rhapsodizing Blue

Culinary Visits with Literary Mentors

Book review: The Traveling Feast, by Rick Bass (Amazon / Book Depository) I decided to take a break from writing and go on an extended pilgrimage. I set out traveling the country (and in one case Europe) to visit writers who were mostly a generation older than I am, the ones who helped me become a writer trained outside a university. Sometimes they helped me … Continue reading Culinary Visits with Literary Mentors

Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

Book review: Feel Free, by Zadie Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) Novelist Zadie Smith has got to be one of the most brilliant minds writing today. She burst onto the literary scene with the novel White Teeth in 2000 and has been a heavyweight presence ever since. I read that book and only retained from it that I liked it a lot – when it … Continue reading Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Book review: Poetry Will Save Your Life, by Jill Bialosky “All poems become, to a certain degree, personal to a reader.” Poet, editor, and novelist Jill Bialosky writes a memoir structured around the poems that have helped her through life, imbuing it with deeper meaning and giving subtle guidance and reassurances through turmoil and joy. Sometimes they act as markers, anchoring her memory to a place or event. … Continue reading The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Book review: The World is On Fire, by Joni Tevis Joni Tevis has a strange talent for writing essays that combine the most unlikely, unrelated subjects, skipping without any obvious connection between topics and somehow making it work as a coherent, emotional, interesting piece. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. As one example, she writes an essay contrasting her own struggles with fertility … Continue reading Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

A Surrealist Writes Her Madness

Book review: Down Below, by Leonora Carrington A strange, surreal account of painter, sculptor and writer Leonora Carrington’s 1943 stay in a Spanish mental institution after descending into mental illness. An English transplant to France where the Surrealist movement had found fertile ground, Carrington wrote this short book, actually more like an extended essay, as a stream-of-consciousness style explanation of what she saw and felt, both … Continue reading A Surrealist Writes Her Madness

The Lost Libraries of Europe

The portal of the Berlin City Library (Berliner Stadtbibliothek) at Breite Straße 32-34 in Berlin-Mitte. It shows steel plates with 117 variations of the letter “A”, created by Fritz Kühn in 1965. By Beek100 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons Book review: The Book Thieves, by Anders Rydell This is to a very great extent a story of dispersal – about … Continue reading The Lost Libraries of Europe

Art, Movies, Men, and Manhattan in the 50s

Book review: The Men in My Life, by Patricia Bosworth (Amazon / Book Depository) Patricia Bosworth is a biographer, best known for her books on actors and artists like Montgomery Clift and Diana Arbus; her biography on the latter was the basis for the film Fur. But before she became an author and journalist, Bosworth was a model and actress working in 1950s America. It was a very … Continue reading Art, Movies, Men, and Manhattan in the 50s

Field Guide to the Strange and Unusual

Quinta da Regaliera in Sintra, near Lisbon, Portugal. Me, in blue, in the deep, dark, moss-covered Initiation Well where Masonic ceremonies allegedly took place. One of the fantastic, fascinating sites highlighted in the book Book review: Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton (Amazon / Book Depository) How often do you hear of travel guides promising to lead you off the beaten path? And how … Continue reading Field Guide to the Strange and Unusual