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 Genovese was murdered on her way home from work in … Continue reading Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

The History Mystery of Thomas Paine’s Afterlife

Book review: The Trouble with Tom, by Paul Collins (Amazon / Book Depository) He should have been dead from the start. He’d been cheating Death almost from the beginning: at the age of nineteen, leaving his parents’ home for the first time, Pain – he’d not yet added the final e to his name—set out for London and was recruited at dockside for service on … Continue reading The History Mystery of Thomas Paine’s Afterlife

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

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell (Amazon / Book Depository) 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 … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

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 from uniquely personal experiences. A girl has her bike stolen. … Continue reading Letting the Rust Belt Speak

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 white debt, and how it’s not something that can be … Continue reading Poetic Explorations of American Culture, History, Race, and the Downsides of NYC

An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

Book review: One Hundred Miles From Manhattan, by Guillermo Fesser Americans tend to get restless and move around a lot. They effortlessly leave one state for another. Don’t think it’s easy to guess their origin. Curiously, Americans tend to tell me they are from the place where they currently live rather than sharing the name of their city of birth. If I ask someone from … Continue reading An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

The Minutes of An American Tragedy

Image of World Trade Center fog, November 1998. By Flickr user Beija (http://www.flickr.com/photos/beija/243997357) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons   Book review: 102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn Amazon From the moment the first hijacked plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, 102 minutes passed before both towers ultimately collapsed. As we know all too … Continue reading The Minutes of An American Tragedy

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

Essays On Her Own: Didion After Her Editor

Book review: After Henry, by Joan Didion 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 the identity of a place that reading her essays feels like being schooled in … Continue reading Essays On Her Own: Didion After Her Editor

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 unexpectedly became a British expatriate alone in New York City, … Continue reading Musings on Art and Loneliness

Food As Love in Any Language

Book review: The Language of Baklava, by Diana Abu-Jaber (Amazon / Book Depository) I’m falling in love with “foodoirs” lately. Those are food-themed memoirs, in case you’re late to the genre, like I was. This one moved me more than I unexpected. Novelist Diana Abu-Jaber was born in America to a Jordanian immigrant father and an American mother. Her family, including two younger sisters, lived in … Continue reading Food As Love in Any Language

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