I first read White Fang and Call of the Wild during a blistering hot summer in Arizona and China. Reading the descriptions of London's protagonist strI first read White Fang and Call of the Wild during a blistering hot summer in Arizona and China. Reading the descriptions of London's protagonist struggling against the bitter cold provided welcome relief to the humid tropical heat of southeastern China and central Arizona....more
As a series of letters to an imagined (?) young artist, the book can be repetitive at times. But that is the nature of writing letters. Otherwise, CamAs a series of letters to an imagined (?) young artist, the book can be repetitive at times. But that is the nature of writing letters. Otherwise, Cameron's advice comes down a few basic tenets and habits, the main one of which is to develop a habit of creating your art every day, regardless of mood and circumstance. Once you decide to be an artist, you have to commit and work at being an artist in whatever medium you work in. Cameron does a good job of knocking down any romantic notions of art, and what it means to work as an artist. She does delve into spirituality, which can be a turnoff for some, but she has convincing reasons for doing so. Quick read, which makes it perfect for when a reminder is needed or when spirits are low....more
It's difficult to recount in this space everything good and bad about an anthology such as this, so I'm going with essays I found interesting and/or uIt's difficult to recount in this space everything good and bad about an anthology such as this, so I'm going with essays I found interesting and/or useful: - a rediscovered piece by James Agee on the 1943 Detroit race riots - Jared Diamond's "The Last Americans," which seems to be a starting point for his book "Collapse." - "The Unreal Thing" by Adam Gopnik, which is both a review of the Matrix films and an examination of the philosophical issues they raised. - Laura Hillenbrand's amazing account of her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome and the effort it took to write her first book, "Seabiscuit." - "Yarn" by Kyoko Mori, a mix of histories about knitting. - Susan Orlean's "Lifelike," a personal report from the 2003 World Taxidermy Championship. - Oliver Sack's "The Mind's Eye," which looks at blindness and how the brain adapts to it. - Janna Malamud Smith's meditation on her father in "My Father is a Book." - a previously unpublished essay by Tennessee Williams, "Amor Perdida."...more
First, I have not seen a full episode of the A&E show "Hoarders," only clips and ads. So if you have seen the show, this book may or may not be whFirst, I have not seen a full episode of the A&E show "Hoarders," only clips and ads. So if you have seen the show, this book may or may not be what you expect. Unlike most reality TV shows, however, Frost and Steketee do not have to shape a hoarder's life for dramatic effect; they can let the facts speak for themselves. And the facts are engrossing. The authors are psychologists who conduct research on hoarding, and in "Stuff" they present case studies, composite profiles, and historical instances of hoarders and the effects they and their possessions have had on family, friends, and society. There is the famous story of the Collyer brothers of New York, whose lives are notably the focus of E.L. Doctorow's latest novel, "Homer & Langley." The details of their lives seem to characterize many hoarders profiled elsewhere in the book: financial independence or being well-to-do, symptoms that point to OCD, intense attention to detail, rich inner lives and stories for their possessions, relatives who are themselves hoarders or collectors, limited social lives. Frost and Steketee are careful to point out that hoarding is not a recent phenomenon in the U.S., as the show "Hoarders" might suggest, nor do hoarders fit within an easily definable personality profile. They can be as young as five years old and as beautiful as a runway model. Some hoarders require extreme interventions that involve social workers and cleaning crews while others, such as the woman whose home was lined with shopping bags of unworn clothing and accessories, can eventually control their hoarding with professional help. The authors address the state of research on hoarding, its causes, and treatments, as they cover different aspects of hoarders' lives. They often note how very little research has been done on a particular topic, because it is difficult to conduct a study when, for instance, a participant takes close to two hours to answer a 15-minute questionnaire or write paragraphs to a multiple-choice question. "Stuff" is aimed at a general audience, rather than an academic one, so Frost and Steketee present their case studies and profiles relatively free of awkward phrasing and unfamiliar jargon. This also means that they can share their own experiences and insights of working with and interviewing hoarders and hoarders' relatives. One notable example was one of their undergraduate research assistants who didn't realize her mother's problem had a name. During their interview, she would yell at her mom and throw accusations at her, despite everything she learned in class. In spite of the current economic downturn, stuff is affordable, credit is still readily available, and one person's junk pile always holds the promise of unclaimed treasures. With "Stuff," Frost and Steketee present complicated, sometimes sympathetic, portraits of people living with a psychological problem that is all too often misunderstood. (4.5 stars)...more
Due to a combined misfortune of timing and circumstance, I have not been to the Paris that Liebling describes in "Between Meals." Given that this wasDue to a combined misfortune of timing and circumstance, I have not been to the Paris that Liebling describes in "Between Meals." Given that this was Liebling's last book before his death in 1963, I suspect that the Paris contained within this slender book were no more than so many remembered meals by the time this was published. Regardless, Liebling's Paris recalls a time when people savored their food and drink. (Then again, this was also when our traditional notions of men and women dominated and civil rights in America were not at a high point.)
However, as the title implies, the meals were secondary to the people who toiled to create them and the company they provided to those who appreciated good food. The meals, which are sumptuously described, are nothing more than catalysts for Liebling to recall his Paris and its inhabitants.
Liebling's writing exemplifies the New Yorker magazine's style: literary in tone, knowledgeable without sounding too snobbish, rich with the right details, humorous and opinionated without being unseemly. Few writers and journalists nowadays can write like this and not sound pretentious. Even though "Between Meals" represents its time and an era that no longer existed, it continues to serve as a classic food memoir by which other food memoirs should be judged. Well worth reading....more