Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Book review: Journey into the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg I opened the door briskly, with the boldness of despair. If you are to jump over a cliff, better take a run at it and not pause on the brink to look back at the lovely world you are leaving behind. Eugenia Ginzburg’s memoir of her arrest in 1937 on charges that eventually became “terrorism” … Continue reading Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Elegies for the Departed

Book review: The Glen Rock Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik After a creative writing assignment led her to thinking about dead people she’d known, poet and author Marion Winik explains that it was “as if tickets to a show had just gone on sale and all my ghosts were screeching up at the box office.” This never seemed morbid or depressing to me. I … Continue reading Elegies for the Departed

A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

Book review: The Other Side, by Lacy M. Johnson The short version: Lacy Johnson was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and held prisoner in a soundproofed basement he’d constructed solely for the purpose of raping and brutally killing her. He didn’t succeed in killing her. This book is about that event, how it affected her and her relationships over the following years, the ways memory forms and fades, … Continue reading A Memoir of Violence and Complicated Memory

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

Essays from the Outdoors

Book review: Upstream, by Mary Oliver ‘Come with me into the field of sunflowers’ is a better line than anything you will find here, and the sunflowers themselves far more wonderful than any words about them. Quoting herself, renowned and much-loved poet Mary Oliver opens this collection of essays about nature and our connection to it, need for it, what it can teach us and how it feels … Continue reading Essays from the Outdoors

Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Book review: Dancing on a Powder Keg, by Ilse Weber In 1942, Jewish author Ilse Weber was deported from Prague along with her husband Willi and the younger of her two sons to Theresienstadt, the Jewish ghetto and the Nazis’ “model” concentration camp, trotted out as a fake village for events like Red Cross visits. Beginning in 1933 as political and social changes began taking root … Continue reading Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Tales of a Red Storm Coming

Book review: 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution selected by Boris Dralyuk In college I took a class in Russian Literature of the Silver Age. This is the period of the late 19th/early 20th century when Russian literature reached impressive creative heights. It was such an enlightening course, and introduced me to many of the names that come up in this collection: Tsvetaeva, … Continue reading Tales of a Red Storm Coming