Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

Book review: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby Samantha Irby is the Chicago-based blogger behind the popular, ultra-honest, hilariously confessional blog Bitches Gotta Eat. She opens her personal essay collection with a piece about how she’d fill out an application to be a Bachelorette contestant. It’s a pretty wonderful, hilarious introduction, and you can imagine what you’re in for with her from there. Her … Continue reading Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

We Have Nothing to Envy in the World

Book review: Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick “In the futuristic dystopia imagined in 1984, George Orwell wrote of a world where the only color to be found was in the propaganda posters. Such is the case in North Korea.” I saw this book mentioned in an article about David Sedaris’ special habit when going on a US speaking tour. He recommends a book for each … Continue reading We Have Nothing to Envy in the World

Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Book review: Murder in Matera, by Helene Stapinski Author and journalist Helene Stapinski comes from a long family line of thieves and crooks, as detailed in her popular history of crime and theft in Jersey City (especially her family’s participation in it), Five Finger Discount. In her new memoir, Murder in Matera, Stapinski travels to the Basilicata region of southern Italy, attempting to track down and flesh out a … Continue reading Love, Death and Feudalism in Old World Italy

Tracking Al-Qaeda and the Hunt for Bin Laden, 9/11 to Now

Book review: The Exile, by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy Investigative journalist Lawrence Wright published the Pulitzer-winning narrative history The Looming Tower in 2006, detailing Al-Qaeda’s formation and the road to September 11. It closes shortly after the towers fall. With the recent popularity of the film Zero Dark Thirty portraying the SEAL team raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, a narrative was fixed in the public mind, though it’s … Continue reading Tracking Al-Qaeda and the Hunt for Bin Laden, 9/11 to Now

Hilarious Truths and Poetic Tales From a Priest’s Daughter

Book review: Priestdaddy, by Patricia Lockwood “We are congregating in the dining room of my father’s rectory in Kansas City, where I have returned to live with my parents after twelve long years away…We are penniless and we are exhausted, and in the grand human tradition, we have thrown ourselves on the mercy of the church, which exists for me on this earth in an unusually patriarchal form…It walks, … Continue reading Hilarious Truths and Poetic Tales From a Priest’s Daughter

Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Book review: The World is On Fire, by Joni Tevis Joni Tevis has a strange talent for writing essays that combine the most unlikely, unrelated subjects, skipping without any obvious connection between topics and somehow making it work as a coherent, emotional, interesting piece. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. As one example, she writes an essay contrasting her own struggles with fertility … Continue reading Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Book review: The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich What is offered here is my interpretation of the facts, my rendering, my attempt to piece together this story. As such, this is a book about what happened, yes, but it is also about what we do with what happened. It is about a murder, it is about my family, it is about other families whose lives were … Continue reading Fact and Memory, Punishment and Forgiveness

Kitchens of Manhattan, Kitchens of Minnesota

Book review: Give a Girl a Knife, by Amy Thielen Amy Thielen, host of the Food Network’s Heartland Table, is a girl of two worlds – the ultra-high-end, gourmet restaurant kitchens of New York City, one of the most competitive restaurant environments ever; and her folksy home of rural Minnesota, where she honed her cooking skills and “taste memories” drawing on her parents’ French-Canadian, German, and Eastern European immigration backgrounds and … Continue reading Kitchens of Manhattan, Kitchens of Minnesota

What Makes the Russians Tick

Book review: Russians, by Gregory Feifer “Russia has no need of sermons (she has heard too many), nor of prayers (she has mumbled them too often), but of the awakening in the people a feeling of human dignity, lost for so many ages in mud and filth.” – Vissarion Belinsky on the Russian Orthodox Church in a letter to Nikolai Gogol, 1847 This quote opens a chapter of Russians titled “Cold … Continue reading What Makes the Russians Tick

Essays On Her Own: Didion After Her Editor

Book review: After Henry, by Joan Didion There’s no other storyteller like Joan Didion. She can take the most boring fact and spin a narrative yarn around it that boggles the mind. She can tie so many elements together in telling a story and making a point about politics, culture, or the identity of a place that reading her essays feels like being schooled in … Continue reading Essays On Her Own: Didion After Her Editor

Breaking Down the Clinton Campaign, Mistake by Mistake

Book review: Shattered, by Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes “The absurdities of the election – Russian cyberattacks, a rogue FBI director, and an orange-hued reality-TV star winning the Republican nomination – intensified the sense of grief for Hillary, Bill, and their inner circle.” As they did for all of us, really. Reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes interviewed top aides, movers and shakers within Hillary Clinton’s campaign … Continue reading Breaking Down the Clinton Campaign, Mistake by Mistake

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