Thursday, May 26, 2011


I loved this book. Unexpectedly.

It's from a dog's point-of-view, which has been done before (and sometimes not very well). This "dog-teller" conceit provides a knowledge "triangle": on one side are the humans who know some things; Enzo provides a second side of the "truth" that only he can provide: Eve's not moody; she smells funny because she's got something wrong inside. Zoe's not willful because she's two; she's refusing to eat her chicken nuggets because they've gone bad. And what Enzo reports, we clever readers can piece together with what we know about the world (side #3) so we know even more than the dog! (Kudos to us.) Also, the governing metaphor of life as car-race has also been done before, although not so well or with so much good, feels real detail. (Tom Cruise in a bad movie ... ?)

But never mind what's been done before, differently, or not so well. This book is tender and true, with very few false notes. No perfect characters and several infuriating ones, whose worst comes out when they have to confront the worst. A very good read ... even for those without dogs. Bring kleenex.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Christina Haag, COME TO THE EDGE

A well-crafted memoir by the actress Haag who had an on-again, off-again romance with John F. Kennedy, Jr. This is not a prurient memoir, for those who are looking for the ugly "skinny" on the Kennedy family. This is Haag's story, and she begins with her affluent childhood and her schooling with the nuns at the Convent of the Sacred Heart on the Upper East Side; then her days at Brown and Juilliard for training in acting; her years spent taking parts in plays and bits in movies until she hit her stride; and her years of being, quite tenderly and deeply, in love. Most interesting to me, so far as insight into John Jr.'s psyche (which I must admit has never really captured my interest), was the episode when CH and JJr are vacationing in Jamaica. She has a broken leg; the two of them are in a kayak, without the rubber apron, without a bailer, quite ill-prepared. John pushes to try to make it to shore, to the beautiful beach, and despite her fear and resistance, they go. They nearly die trying to get in; then they nearly die trying to get back out. Afterwards, Christina is still shaken, angry and upset. "We could have died!" she tells him. "What a way to go," is his response.


I was looking for a tale about 1790s British nautical history and found it here. Swashbuckling popular yarn, complete with a gangly hero who proves his worth unexpectedly. Dated 1948.


This book tells the story of the great migration of six million Blacks from the South to the North over the course of about three generations. She slips back and forth between the biographical tales of three particular people (Ida Mae, who moved from Mississippi to Chiciago; George, Florida to Harlem; Robert, Louisiana to Los Angeles) and a general, well-researched historical discussion (that at times repeats). But the historical discussion is broad and astonishing. It addresses social, geographical, economic, and political aspects of race relations from 1920s-1970s; it also debunks several "myths" about blacks moving North that have unfortunately been taken, and perpetuated, for truths. Half-way through this book, I found myself amazed that race relations in this country are not worse than they are.