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

The Perfect Storm of the Opioid Epidemic

Book review: Dreamland, by Sam Quinones “Crime was at historic lows, drug overdose deaths at record highs. A happy façade covered a disturbing reality. I grew consumed by this story. It was about America and Mexico, about addiction and marketing, about wealth and poverty, about happiness and how to achieve it. I saw it as an epic woven by threads from all over. It took … Continue reading The Perfect Storm of the Opioid Epidemic

An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

Book review: God’ll Cut You Down, by John Safran In this tornado of a book, Australian TV and radio personality John Safran chronicles his obsession with a Southern American murder case involving the death of a white supremacist at the hands of a young black man in Mississippi. That’s the basic premise, but the paths that the story takes from there are pretty extraordinary. Safran had a comedy … Continue reading An Australian in the Dark Heart of Mississippi

The Opposite of How Most People Think

Book review: The Unspeakable, by Meghan Daum I’ve been in the mood to read a good essay collection, and oh man – oh man, was this it. Meghan Daum is a columnist for the L.A. Times and contributor to outlets like Slate and NPR. And she’s an unflinchingly honest essayist. The Unspeakable tells stories about subjects that are uncomfortable to discuss, maybe uncomfortable even to think about in your own head. But they make … Continue reading The Opposite of How Most People Think

Iran’s Culinary Culture and the Appeal of the Temporary Marriage

Book review: The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Food and Love in Iran Published in 2014 in the UK, Australian, and New Zealand markets, Jennifer Klinec’s Iranian food and romance memoir The Temporary Bride will be published on Valentine’s Day in the U.S. Klinec abandons a financially secure career in London to open a cooking school out of her apartment. In search of new recipes, she travels to … Continue reading Iran’s Culinary Culture and the Appeal of the Temporary Marriage

Please, Tell Me More.

Book review: Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit Last week, a man I’ve worked with for quite a long time now insisted on explaining something to me. Unlike the understandably infuriating situation described in the title essay of Rebecca Solnit’s book, this wasn’t a case of explaining a subject that a woman understands very well, in which she might even be an expert, … Continue reading Please, Tell Me More.

Survival and Optimism

Book review: Bread or Death, by Milton Mendel Kleinberg It took me a little while to get into this one, but once I did, I was glad I’d stuck with it. Kleinberg wrote this account of his and his family’s experiences during World War II to answer questions for his grandchildren. I’ve read many Holocaust memoirs and there was a lot here I’d never come across … Continue reading Survival and Optimism

An Unforgettable Life in Stories

Book review: In the Unlikeliest of Places, by Annette Liebeskind There have been many extraordinary stories to come from those who survived the Holocaust. Each is a little bit different, a little surprising in its own way. There’s so much to be learned about human nature, both the good and the bad of it, from personal histories like these. Nachman Libeskind’s story is unique for … Continue reading An Unforgettable Life in Stories

Fight like a girl

Book review: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg “We all have to work very hard and ignore those people who say we should not be here.” So says a female Afghani politician, one of the subjects of Jenny Nordberg’s eye-opening narrative nonfiction account of the practice of bacha posh in Afghanistan, The Underground Girls of Kabul. The quoted politician, Azita, is the mother of a bacha … Continue reading Fight like a girl