Below are listed the essays in the order they appear in the book. In parentheses are the persons about which the respective essays are about. Then isBelow are listed the essays in the order they appear in the book. In parentheses are the persons about which the respective essays are about. Then is stated the author and my personal rating of the essay. Please do keep in mind that even a 2 stars rating indicates that I felt the essay was OK, 3 stars means I liked it, 4 that I liked it a lot and 5 that it was fantastic. The average of my ratings comes to between 3 and 4. I am choosing to give the entire book 4 because when I look at the whole, I liked it a lot. Some essays were very funny. Others told me stuff about people I knew absolutely nothing about; they made me curious to know more. None were bad, but for some of the 2 star essays I just felt they could have given me more or I had a hard getting interested. I have put a few comments under each essay.
1.How Do You Like it Now, Gentlemen? (Ernest Hemingway), by Lillian Ross (3stars) * It is interesting to observe that Hemingway never seemed really to listen to people; people conversing don’t seem to be relating to what the other says!
2.Lady with a Pencil (Katharine White), by Nancy Franklin (4stars) * Having just read essays by E.B. White (One Man's Meat) I totally enjoyed learning about his wife! Who would have known what a fascinating person she would prove to be too?!
3.Wunderkind (Floyd Patterson), by A.J. Liebling (2 stars) * Boxing is hard for me to get enthused about.
4.A Pryor Love (Richard Pryor), by Hilton Als (3 stars) * Pryor’s belief that humor can and should be used to lessen hatred struck a chord with me.
5.A Duke in His Domain (Marlon Brando), by Truman Capote (3 stars) * He often said not to pay attention to what he said; tomorrow he may think differently. I liked the description of places in Japan and learning about his relationship with his parents.
6.The Coolhunt (Baysie Wightman and DeeDee Gordon), by Michael Gladwell (4 stars) * In fancy words this is about “diffusion research”; in simple terms it’s about spotting trendsetters or what and who is and will be cool. For a person totally uninterested in trends, that I should found this essay so fascinating is in itself utterly amazing.
7.Mr. Hunter's Grave (George H. Hunter), by Joseph Mitchell (5 stars) * This is about an 87 year old Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the African Methodist Church on Staten Island. It is about the community of people who lived on “Sandy Ground” going back to the mid-1800s, about oyster fishing and clam bakes and wild flowers and grave stones. It is beautifully written. It is about a place people need to know once existed. This essay is one of the many found in the anthology Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell.You don’t want to miss this book! Then you will want to read Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker too.
8.The Man Who Walks on Air (Philippe Petit), by Calvin Tomkins (3 stars) * Definitely interesting, particularly if you have already read Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin. Both are about the very same high-wire artist.
9.Isadora (Isadora Duncan), by Janet Flanner (2 stars) * In fact it was this essay that pushed me to choose the book. I wanted to learn more about the famed American dancer Isadore Duncan. It gave me very little.
10.Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody (Heloise), by Ian Frazier (4 stars) * I knew nothing about this syndicated columnist! She is every home-maker’s guru. This is extremely funny. Now I want to read her columns. She advises one to “never to clean out a drawer when you are not in a throw-away-mood.” Having worked in a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlor she refutes the claim that “You’ll get tired of ice cream if you work there.” She finally quit because she gained so much weight! I would have to quit too. No, I would never take such a job!
11.Covering the Cops (Edna Buchanan), by Calvin Trillin (3 stars) * Edna Buchanan was a reporter for the Miami Herald.She was the reporter that covered the cops, and yeah she specialized in murder. The article is well written; you are pulled in close and it has humor.
12.Show Dog (Biff Truesdale), by Susan Orlean (4 stars) * Biff is a boxer. I mean the dog type. I don’t know really if I was supposed to laugh from start to finish, but I did. It is about dog trainers, dog breeders and dog showing.
Okay, these are only essays; they are not deep biographies. The title is accurate. We are promised profiles and we are given profiles. What we read is well written. I laughed and I learned and my interest was whetted for more.
The audiobook is narrated by Philip Bosco, Amy Irving and Alton Fitzgerald White. All are very well done. Easy to follow and read with understanding of what was written. Humor is captured well too....more
The story is about the marriage of a Cherokee woman and a white Southerner, but that is just the beginning. The husband’s brotThis book is beautiful.
The story is about the marriage of a Cherokee woman and a white Southerner, but that is just the beginning. The husband’s brother falls in love with her too. It is about love relationships between man and wife and deep friendship between women, coming to care for another and doing what is right. What if laws do not protect you, what do you do then?
The story happens before and up to the conclusion of the First World War. The setting is Appalachia, the Kentucky hinterland.
The southern writing spoke to me. Beautiful, simple and expressive. The spoken words are not grammatically correct, but neither should they be.
The characters came alive for me. Each character’s essence is evoked both through actions and words. The women spoke to me, each in their own way. Each became a separate identity. Character portrayal is a strong element of this book!
Religious beliefs and traditions are seen through Southerners’ own eyes. Beautifully drawn but without a hint of proselytism.
The plot grabbed me and never let go. It got me thinking. What would I do if I were in that predicament? One reflects upon if one should keep silent or if one should speak out the truth.
I loved how the story ended. It is beautiful, but it isn’t corny. It is well drawn and care is taken to make it believable.
The narration by Kate Forbes is totally fantastic. You simply cannot adjust speeds on your Iphone to achieve perfect tempo; it is only through a talented narrator who knows when to pause and when to rush ahead that the ideal tempo is attained. Forbes masters this. Her southern dialect is never hard to understand and adds to one’s appreciation of the author’s lines.
Gorgeous lines and gorgeous narration. Southern culture drawn with finesse. Quite simply a lovely and engaging story.
That this book has won numerous prizes doesn’t surprise me in the least: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers *Nominee of the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize *Nominee of the Book Sense Book of the Year Longlist I will be picking up more books by Silas House very, very soon....more
I can't make up my mind how to rate this. Three of four stars is what I am debating between. I can praise so much about how this is written, but sometI can't make up my mind how to rate this. Three of four stars is what I am debating between. I can praise so much about how this is written, but something is missing. Something is wrong. What is it that is troubling me? I am left with the feeling I should love it more than I do.
I will start with what I am sure of. The writing is beautiful. Descriptions of places are breathtakingly lyrical. Water and sky. What is outside one's window on a dark night and what is reflected in the glass. The feel of a place, the atmosphere around one, the weight of air, the silence or the bubble of sounds. What makes a place feel as it does is wonderfully drawn. I loved the dialogs too; this is what people say when they are mad, when they are happy or sad....or scared. The author captures extremely well in words how one feels. Do you remember the glorious feeling when you first fell in love? Dorit Rabinyan does and she writes of this here. The fury of arguments comes through too. Anger explodes. This woman can write.
So what is the book about and how well does the author accomplish what she set out to do? This book reflects the Palestinian Israeli conflict, on a personal level. Yeah we read about the conflict in the news, but here we see in the nitty-gritty of life how the conflict shapes and molds every aspect of life for these poor people, Palestinians and Israeli. Think to have never seen the sea and yet to live with it so close. Check points, borders and all the individual events that comprise history. History is no small point when members of your family have been killed. One is part of a family and family connections shape who you are from birth. Emotions and logical thinking do battle; good intentions have little sway. The author accomplishes this task remarkably well, and she does it without putting one side above the other.
This is a book of historical fiction, except that it is not set decades ago. It is about events set in an accurately described time and place. The setting is NYC, Israel and Palestine. The events happen from the end of 2002 through the middle of 2003; everything unrolls within just a few months. No, I have not double-checked every detail given in this book, but it all rings true. The American invasion of Iraq is recounted. Do you remember the blizzard that wracked the east coast of America in February 2003? It came to be known as the Presidents' Day Storm II. That is here. The streets and avenues in NYC are meticulously drawn too, as is Tel Aviv and Hebron. Other Palestinian and Israeli towns are mentioned. I feel certain, even if I have not checked, that if you turn right there on that street, as the protagonists do, what they see is exactly what you will see. I feel this way concerning all the details presented in the book! What I have checked has been correct. Yet one does not read this book for the historical events; what they do is set the background and create authenticity.
Jewish and Palestinian customs and rituals, even some Zoroastrian festivities, are wonderfully drawn. Both Arabic and Jewish expressions further enhance the book’s authenticity. You don’t have to know either language though; all is smoothly explained.
Then there is both the ending and the beginning to consider. The beginning immediately grabs your interest, pulls you in right away. The ending is good too. All is plausible. All could really have happened, although I am not sure how easy it was in 2003 (view spoiler)[to avoid check points when passing between Palestine and Israel. I’ll take the author on her word (hide spoiler)]. We are not given a fairy tale; we are given real life.
Just look at all the positive things I have mentioned.
It is in considering the characterizations though that my problems arise. We are dealing with a love affair between a Palestinian and an Israeli. I do think their head-over-heels love is wonderfully depicted. I do think the terrible difficulty of love between a Jew and a Palestinian is astutely and movingly described. After the passion comes reality and real life. Where do you live? What about family and how do they react? How do you forget what has been hammered into you since birth, everything that has set you on opposing sides? None of the above do I have trouble with. What I do have trouble with is the immaturity of the two lovers, Liat and Hilmi. Liat, she is Jewish and 29 years old. Hilmi is Arabic and 27 years old. In your late twenties, if not quite a bit earlier, aren’t you straining at the bit? Defying parental control and influence is what you most want to do. At this age one will do just about anything to get on your own. In the book, this does not come through with the force that it should!
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am too much thinking in terms of what I would have done had I been in their shoes. I acknowledge that living in either Palestine or Israel would have been extremely difficult, but there are other solutions! Emigrate and live somewhere else! The world is your oyster when you are young; you can do almost anything then. What strikes me as strange is that these two young wonderful people never dared to break borders, to try something new. I haven’t told you what they do choose to do.
Furthermore, whatever the reason, I am not attached to either Hilmi or Liat.
The audiobook is narrated by Gabra Zackman. The narration I have given five stars. I am so thankful that she hasn’t turned this into theatrics, which I hate. She reads with feeling but doesn’t overdo it. To my ears she speaks English, Hebrew and Arabic fluently, but what do I know?!
I have decided to rate this in accordance with how I do feel, not how I ought to feel but don’t. I prefer to follow my heart, not my head. When I give a book three stars it is one I like, and I can recommend it....more