Recently, Netflix released all ten episodes of their series Dear White People, which is based on the movie and book with the same name. The series carries over a lot of what happens in the movie and then expands on it. What helps the series is that the creator of the book and movie, Justin Simien, was on board for the series as creator. Another facet that helps is some of the actors from the movie came back to reprise their roles on the TV series.
Last year’s notable “twin books” were Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and White Trash: the Secret 400-Year History of Poverty in America by Nancy Isenberg. The first is a memoir and the second a volume of history, but both examine the plight of poor and working-class whites in America. Hillbilly Elegy has been on the NYT Bestseller list for 39 weeks now, along with making the rounds in media and landing on several lists that purport to explain Trump’s successful run for president to those who thought a Clinton victory was in the bag.
I recently finished reading The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan. It is a fascinating look into a town that never existed on any map but had a HUGE influence on the outcome of World War II. Although not all of the residents were women, of course, the story is told through the lives of several different ladies who found themselves at this historic place.
Floating somewhere between fantasy and reality, between the mind and the body, is Güera, the latest poetry collection from Rebecca Gaydos. Published in 2016, the book is divided into five distinct parts, including prologue and epilogue. What struck me initially was the sparseness of each page, made up of stanzas that read as prose instead of verse. However, as I began to read, the weight of each word became immediately apparent.
Why are we all wearing green today? How is it that one particular ethnic group came to figure so fully—politically, culturally—in the American story, to the point that as a society we endorse the notion that “today, everyone is Irish”? It is an odd historical circumstance: papists finding not only freedom, but generating incredible prosperity […]
Pittsburgher August Wilson wrote his award-winning play, Fences, in 1983. Fences was the sixth of ten plays in his “Pittsburgh Cycle” focusing on the changing nature of race relations and the African American experience. Recently, Denzel Washington directed and starred in a movie version shot in Pittsburgh.
After this election, I started thinking about what life was like for the women who were married to the presidents—who have to endure the rigors of the election cycle and endless press coverage, but whose contributions are significantly overlooked by history. In First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies, Kate Andersen Brower brings their personal stories to light and acknowledges their many and diverse contributions.
The Things They Carried is an incredibly powerful book, one that should — yes, absolutely — be required reading for every American.
Hopefully you are enjoying the spectacular colors of autumn as much as I am, even if you have to go through the “joy” of raking all those leaves. When your body’s sore from all that work, treat yo’self with some hot apple cider and some almost-as-fantastic-as-apple-pie-books. Here are some of my favorite selections for these colder and windier days.
Yaa Gyasi’s groundbreaking debut novel, Homegoing, begins in 18th century Ghana with two half-sisters who will never meet. Effia, of the Fante tribe, marries a British slaver and lives her life in relative luxury in the Cape Coast castle. Beneath her, captured tribes wait to be shipped to the Americas as slaves. Among them is Esi of the Asante, Effia’s half-sister.