CategoryReviews

WHITE FRAGILITY, Robin Diangelo

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Dear White People: White is the status quo. White is the norm. White rules. White perspective is assumed to be universal and is imposed on everyone. White supremacy is a system we are all socialized into from the moment we are born. White schools are better than Black schools. White neighborhoods are better than Black neighborhoods. White health care is better than Black health care. White wages ...

THE FATHER

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A friend recommended The Father to me, with words of caution: it’s hard to watch. He was right. But hard to watch doesn’t mean don’t watch. In this case it means the film is so powerful, devastating, brilliant, and so close to home that the discomfort I experience is illuminating, even reassuring: I am not alone. I watched this film about a man struggling with dementia because I too had a father...

A TIDEWATER MORNING, William Styron

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Someone had left this slim book in my Little Free Library and I snatched it when I saw on the cover the name William Styron, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie’s Choice and a devastating memoir about his battle with depression among other works. The three tales in “A Tidewater Morning” are fictionalized accounts from his youth. In Shadrach, a 99-year old former Black slave...

THE INDEX OF SELF-DESTRUCTIVE ACTS, Christopher Beha

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First of all, great title: “The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.” It refers to a baseball metric that measures “the total number of hit batsmen, wild pitches, balks and errors by a pitcher, per nine innings.” There’s a bit about baseball in this novel, but the focus is on other types of self-destructive acts committed by the novel’s cast of characters: infidelity, financial...

ANNA KARENINA, Leo Tolstoy

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It’s a major commitment to read an epic novel these days, and I don’t do it as often as I did in my younger days. I can’t say my attention span hasn’t shortened in recent years due to various factors, and the task of reading an 850-page novel seemed daunting. But I’ve never read Tolstoy and every serious reader must at some point. My copy of Anna Karenina has been sitting untouched on my...

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

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You either love Quentin Tarantino movies or loathe them. Put me in the love column. I’ve seen most of the films he’s directed, and one of the best is ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. The story centers around washed-up actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick made a name for himself starring in the Western series Bounty Hunter but has recently been...

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Erich Maria Remarque

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When I travel I tend to grab a shorter, paperback book that’s easy to pack and easy to read. For my trip to Birmingham, I nabbed a tattered copy of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT out of my Little Free Library. I’ve read a number of war novels and seen plenty of war movies, but this short, devastating novel is among the most powerful. Written by Erich Maria Remarque, a German soldier who served on...

“Private Life”

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I picked one off my Netflix queue last night: “Private Life.” Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) are a middle-aged couple struggling with infertility and desperate to have a child. Why so desperate, we’re not sure. They’ve tried everything as we quickly discover in a number of wry and painful scenes of crowded waiting rooms, specialist visits, drug injections, etc. Not...

Hemingway

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I don’t watch much television, but last night I turned on the set. Between checking out Aaron Rodgers hosting Jeopardy and waiting for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final, I tuned into the Ken Burns documentary, “Hemingway,” a 3-part series that is airing on PBS. I thought I’d watch for a few minutes and ended up staying for two mesmerizing hours, missing a good chunk of the basketball game. The...

KLARA AND THE SUN, Kazuo Ishiguro

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I remember talking many years ago to my dear, departed friend Patrick about a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. He said, “You start reading and you think there’s no way he can pull this off. And you keep going and you’re still thinking no way. And then you get to the end and you’re astounded because he did pull it off.” What does Ishiguro pull off, in novel after novel? Almost invariably through the device...

ZONE ONE — Colson Whitehead

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Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for each of his last two novels (The Nickel Boys, The Underground Railroad), an unprecedented literary achievement. Ten years ago, before either of those novels were published, Whitehead blended literary and genre writing and came out with his zombie apocalypse novel, Zone One. I’ve long been a reader of literary fiction although have never been a reader of...

MOLLY’S GAME

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The title turned me off at first. Molly’s Game. Sounded young adult or chick flick, two genres I don’t watch often. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice the film when it came out in 2017. But then I discovered Jessica Chastain was the star. She’s on my list. She appeared in two movies I thought were excellent and I highly recommend: Take Shelter (she plays the wife of Michael Shannon, another...

Joan Didion–THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD

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“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” The author of that line, Joan Didion, is a rare breed in America: a literary writer with rock star status. I finally had the pleasure of watching the 2017 Netflix documentary about Didion, The Center Will Not Hold. The film expertly compiles and edits conversation with the 82-year-old Didion, interviews, and historical footage and...

INTERIOR CHINATOWN — Charles Yu

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The narrative structure and storytelling of Charles Wu’s quick-read “Interior Chinatown” are like no other novel I’ve read—and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s part screenplay for a cop show—Black and White—being filmed at the Golden Palace restaurant, and part interior monologue of the protagonist Willis Wu, who plays Generic Asian Man/Dead Asian Man/Background Oriental in the margins of the show...

THE GLASS KINGDOM, Lawrence Osborne

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I was really looking forward to Lawrence Osborne’s new novel, The Glass Kingdom. I had read and greatly admired two of Osborne’s other novels: Beautiful Animals, about two young women on a Greek Island who set out to help a refugee they discover on the beach; and The Forgiven, a clash of cultures among Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors that results from a car accident. Both of those books had...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

Novels

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