Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

Book review: All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine (Amazon / Book Depository) Cancer divides – as its very premise, its cells divide, maniacally, so that one rogue cell becomes two becomes a three-pound cabbage-sized tumor. Yet the same is happening inside my sister in a different way, as her child who was once one cell became two cells is becoming a brand new human being we … Continue reading Stories of Comfort Food For Cancer

The Nostalgia of Coming Home When Everything’s Changed

Book review: Bettyville, by George Hodgman (Amazon / Book Depository) My friends worry that I am falling into a hole here, that this time away is really giving up, running away. Since I lost my job, I don’t know quite who it is I am now. Suddenly I feel older. In New York, my closet is full of clothes that still smell a little like … Continue reading The Nostalgia of Coming Home When Everything’s Changed

A Former Evangelical on American Christianity, the Midwest, and Mike Pence

Book review: Interior States, by Meghan O’Gieblyn (Amazon / Book Depository) … It’s difficult to avoid sensing something perverse in the fact that I have returned so obsessively to the religion I spent my early adulthood trying to escape. And while I have written so much about the Midwest, the truth is that I’ve often felt that I would prefer to live almost anywhere else. … Continue reading A Former Evangelical on American Christianity, the Midwest, and Mike Pence

The New Wild (Mid)West

Book review: Great American Outpost, by Maya Rao (Amazon / Book Depository) One could travel there by taking the interstate all the way across North Dakota, then going up Highway 85, which formed the backbone of the oilfield and ran 1,479 miles from El Paso to the Canadian border. But to really understand the place, a traveler ought to make a series of northern and … Continue reading The New Wild (Mid)West

Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Book review: The View from Flyover Country, by Sarah Kendzior Amazon An old adage says to write what you know. As a journalist living in a decayed Midwestern city waiting – and waiting and waiting – for the Great Recession to end, that was what I knew. Political writer, analyst and academic researcher of authoritarian states Sarah Kendzior rose to prominence a few years ago … Continue reading Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

Book review: American English, Italian Chocolate, by Rick Bailey English professor Rick Bailey writes a sweet, soft memoir in vignette-style essays stretching from the American Midwest to northern Italy. Musings include high school dramas and levitation parties, medical issues humorous and otherwise, death, home insect infestations, historical perceptions of beans, how Nutella might taste better in Italy than in America, and, a favorite: observations on espresso making in … Continue reading Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

Black Widow of the Heartland

Book review: The Truth About Belle Gunness, by Lillian de la Torre On a spring day in 1908, police were called to the scene of a fire in a farmhouse in La Porte, Indiana. In the ruins of the house, they discovered four bodies: three children and a headless adult believed to be the farm’s proprietress, Belle Gunness. A former employee, Ray Lamphere, was charged with … Continue reading Black Widow of the Heartland

Hilarious Truths and Poetic Tales From a Priest’s Daughter

Book review: Priestdaddy, by Patricia Lockwood “We are congregating in the dining room of my father’s rectory in Kansas City, where I have returned to live with my parents after twelve long years away…We are penniless and we are exhausted, and in the grand human tradition, we have thrown ourselves on the mercy of the church, which exists for me on this earth in an unusually patriarchal form…It walks, … Continue reading Hilarious Truths and Poetic Tales From a Priest’s Daughter

Kitchens of Manhattan, Kitchens of Minnesota

Book review: Give a Girl a Knife, by Amy Thielen Amy Thielen, host of the Food Network’s Heartland Table, is a girl of two worlds – the ultra-high-end, gourmet restaurant kitchens of New York City, one of the most competitive restaurant environments ever; and her folksy home of rural Minnesota, where she honed her cooking skills and “taste memories” drawing on her parents’ French-Canadian, German, and Eastern European immigration backgrounds and … Continue reading Kitchens of Manhattan, Kitchens of Minnesota

True Solace is Finding None

Book review: The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich (Amazon / Book Depository) “I came here four years ago. I had not planned to stay, but I couldn’t make myself leave.” Achingly beautiful, emotionally charged prose essays with a distinctly lyrical style, written by a young woman as she initially pursues a work project on the ranches of the Wyoming plains, then can’t seem to … Continue reading True Solace is Finding None