Tea Partiers in Their Own Words

Book review: Strangers in Their Own Land, by Arlie Russell Hochschild In the last decade, but especially the last few years, we’ve seen an especially polarizing shift between the American political left and right, culminating in the election of a previously non-politically-involved narcissistic billionaire (or is he?) bully with an inferiority complex. But even before that menace was in the White House, the unrest and dissatisfaction from the … Continue reading Tea Partiers in Their Own Words

Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Book review: Alligator Candy, by David Kushner When he was four years old, journalist and writer David Kushner’s older brother Jon took off on his bike, riding through the woods of their neighborhood in Tampa, Florida en route to the 7-11, on a quest for candy. Before he left, David asked him to bring him the titular ‘alligator candy’, actually Snappy Gator Gum. Jon didn’t come home, … Continue reading Guilt, Grief, and Finally Getting the Truth

Musings on Art and Loneliness

Book review: The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing “It was becoming increasingly easy to see how people ended up vanishing in cities, disappearing in plain sight, retreating into their apartments because of sickness or bereavement, mental illness or the persistent, unbearable burden of sadness and shyness, not knowing how to impress themselves into the world.” Olivia Laing unexpectedly became a British expatriate alone in New York City, … Continue reading Musings on Art and Loneliness

Some Light Hollywood Trash-Talking

Book review: Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins, by Kathy Griffin I love Kathy Griffin’s standup. Sometimes if I’m feeling down, clips of her energetic, overexcited, judgmental storytelling work as a quick fix cheerer-upper. I haven’t read her other book, Official Book Club Selection, which I think got positive reviews, but I started reading this one when I couldn’t focus on anything serious (thank you, massive stress over apartment/moving) but still … Continue reading Some Light Hollywood Trash-Talking

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

Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Journalist Skip Hollingsworth asks near the beginning of The Midnight Assassin: “Why is it that certain sensational events in history are remembered and others, just as dramatic, are completely forgotten?”  Jack the Ripper committed his notorious murders in London’s East End a mere three years after Austin was terrorized by what we now would recognize as a serial killer. Even today Jack’s identity is still speculated … Continue reading Dark History in the City of Eternal Moonlight

Tracing Gender and Identity, in Budapest and Beyond

Book review: In the Darkroom, by Susan Faludi Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author, and feminist Susan Faludi received an email out of the blue in 2004, from her father whom she’s been estranged from for 27 years. He informed her that he’d undergone sex reassignment surgery, and was now known as Stefánie. Shocked and intrigued, Susan rekindled the relationship, traveling to Budapest, her father’s hometown where he’d … Continue reading Tracing Gender and Identity, in Budapest and Beyond

How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up

Book review: Jane Doe January, by Emily Winslow Some years ago, I made the decision to stop reading a book if I wasn’t enjoying it. Life is short and my reading list is never-ending. 40-odd pages into Jane Doe January, I put it aside with no desire to continue, and I’m not sure why I eventually did. I think because I’d looked forward to it for so long, I couldn’t accept … Continue reading How it Feels When a Cold Case Warms Up

In Support of the Shy

Book review: Shrinking Violets, by Joe Moran Shyness is about much more than just shrinking away. Violets “shrink” not in retreating from the world but in evincing nature’s talent for endless variation and for sustaining life in the most varied habitats. Shyness, too, can flourish in many climates and soils and express itself in many ways. It can, like the violet, be accompanied by a … Continue reading In Support of the Shy

Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

Book review: Serpentine, by Thomas Thompson Serpentine is a long book but it doesn’t actually read like one. The writing is detailed and engrossing, pulling a reader in from the start. The story is about Charles Sobrahj, a French national of Vietnamese and Indian parentage born in Saigon. He had a troubled early start and things never much improved, as the book details his early life … Continue reading Across Continents, On the Trail of a Con Man

We’re All Done Here, 2016

As the year closes, I want to sincerely thank everyone who reads and follows What’s Nonfiction. I’ve loved sharing my thoughts on books and stories, new and old, hearing your opinions, and following your own writings and art. I hope the next year continues to bring connections with bloggers and readers. One of the best parts of reading something great is telling someone else about it (or on … Continue reading We’re All Done Here, 2016

Better Off Dead?

Book review: Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood What a fun read this is, considering the weightiness of the subject matter! Elizabeth Greenwood needs an out from her life – saddled with the burden of crushing student debt, frustrated working a job that will never earn her enough to pay the loans off, she latched on to a … Continue reading Better Off Dead?