Book Review: Mass Murder by Erik Larson

April 4, 2015

I went to bed worried about shipwreck nightmares. I had been reading Dead Wake, Erik Larson’s gripping account of the 1915 Lusitania atrocity, in which the Cunard ocean liner, with nearly two thousand passengers and crew aboard, was torpedoed by

THE VOICES by Michael Dennis Browne: An Appreciation

March 26, 2015

I learned two things in personal conversations with Michael Dennis Browne (and probably a lot more, but these two stand out!) for both of which I’m grateful. The first, many years ago, at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, was

The Other Blacklist: A Very Personal Book Review

July 12, 2014

I’m reading The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s, by Mary Helen Washington with special interest because of the work I did back in the early 1980s on a study of the artist, Charles…

Odds Against Tomorrow: Book Review

June 25, 2014

Nathaniel Rich has a fine sense of the apocalyptic absurd–its comical as well as its dark side. Odds Against Tomorrow sets us in the not-so-distant future, in a world where the threat of global climate change has become all too…


June 2, 2014

…of a Parenting Yogi is the title Brian Leaf gives to his new book, whose subtitle is “Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting.” Together, the title and subtitle pretty much say it all. It’s a humorous…

Living This Life Fully: A Book Review

May 9, 2014

Things do seem to happen as they are supposed to, in their own peculiar time. A review copy of Mirka Knaster’s Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, was mailed to me last year, but mysteriously failed to reach me.

The Art Forger: Book Review

I almost invariably have reservations when it comes to the fictional portrayal of artists. Writers, too. But especially artists. I remember not especially believing the character of Gulley Jimson (remember him, in The Horse’s Mouth?) at a time when he was…

Customers Included: Book Review

March 28, 2014

I’ll confess I shelved this book for a quite while after receiving a copy in the mail from its co-author, Phil Terry. It was the title and subtitle that provoked the initial—and as it turned out, mistaken!—reaction: this is not…

Just Do It

February 24, 2014

Okay, I know that’s a cliche. Worse, perhaps, it’s a cliche born of a sneaker commercial. But how often do you hear some other person–or yourself!–say something like this: “I’ll try to make it by eight o’clock,” or “I’m trying…