The Hows and Whys of a Church-Turned-Cult and a Murder

Book review: Without a Prayer, by Susan Ashline (Amazon / Book Depository) Each year, Chadwicks had a Halloween parade, and families would line Oneida Street--except for the spot in front of the redbrick building. People from the church would chase them off the lawn. Though Oneida Street was a typical stream for trick-or-treaters, no one... Continue Reading →

An Insider’s Account of the Woman Who Fooled New York

Book review: My Friend Anna, by Rachel DeLoache Williams (Amazon / Book Depository) If you’d asked me before I met Anna, I wouldn’t have thought I lacked this type of common sense. I was skeptical of strangers, suspicious of new people. But I didn’t see Anna coming. She slipped through my filters. You read about... Continue Reading →

Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

Book review: Kitty Genovese, by Catherine Pelonero (Amazon / Book Depository) It was the location, many later said, that gave a heightened sense of horror to what happened. In the early morning of March 1964 in Kew Gardens, a quiet residential district of Queens, considered "idyllic" by New York City standards, a young woman named Kitty... Continue Reading →

Letting the Rust Belt Speak

Book review: Voices from the Rust Belt, edited by Anne Trubek (Amazon / Book Depository) These essays address segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss. They reflect upon happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refuges for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty. But mainly they are stories drawn... Continue Reading →

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

Book review: Notes from No Man's Land, by Eula Biss (Amazon / Book Depository) 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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

Essays On Her Own: Didion After Her Editor

Book review: After Henry, by Joan Didion (Amazon / Book Depository) There's no other storyteller like Joan Didion. She can take the most boring fact and spin a narrative yarn around it that boggles the mind. She can tie so many elements together in telling a story and making a point about politics, culture, or... Continue Reading →

Musings on Art and Loneliness

Book review: The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing "It was becoming increasingly easy to see how people ended up vanishing in cities, disappearing in plain sight, retreating into their apartments because of sickness or bereavement, mental illness or the persistent, unbearable burden of sadness and shyness, not knowing how to impress themselves into the world." Olivia Laing... Continue Reading →

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