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Book Suggestion by Angella Meanix, Bookseller
If you're looking for a long-drawn-out book with lots of complicated characters and convoluted storylines, don't read this book.
Turbulence by David Szalay was a great read. It’s a book of short stories that took me on a journey of brief escapades. I love that I didn’t have to get too involved or keep too much track, rather I enjoyed little insights - moments, decisions, and actions. Each character's life felt brief and transient mirroring the structure of the book itself; boarding flights, Uber rides and layovers. I still felt connected to each of them and wondered how things would turn out though. I was completely absorbed.
I am a fan of short stories. Not all ideas have a full 300 pages in them. This type of book is great for a quick escape. Curled up on the couch, the stories played out around me. The Fall season coming on, a cup of tea and a blanket seemed particularly conducive to the delicate relationships in these tidy chapters.
Excerpt: GRU to YYZ: The next morning she had to lose the pilot before she could leave. He was still in her bed. Asleep. "Hey", she said, "Hey, I have to go." He opened his eyes (light blue). There was reddish stubble on his big jaw. He looked around still not sure where he was. Outside the last rain of the São Paulo summer was falling audible in occasional plinks and tinks on the window. "What time is it?", he finally asked propping himself up. "Almost eleven", she told him, "I have to leave in ten minutes".
The 60s: The Story of a Decade/ The New Yorker Ed. Henry Finder
Book Review by Jim Scott
This is the third of The New Yorker’s ambitious series, The 40s, The 50s, and now, The 60s. Following the style of its previous collections, The 60s presents historic New Yorker pieces from the decade, accounting in real-time many seminal events of the tumultuous period. The series’ project director is Henry Finder, the editorial director (since 1997) of this influential and talent-packed magazine. (The highly respected Finder is also responsible for editing the magazine’s editor-in-chief, David Remnick’s, prolific authorship of books and magazine articles.)
By the 1960s, the magazine had fully transitioned in twenty years from a lighter, oft-time comedic, societal commentary magazine to one that approached problems and issues boldly. Under editor Remnick from 1998, The New Yorker continued to celebrate its maturity as “fully politically engaged, daring and intellectually exciting.” The decade series, launched under his tenure and Finder’s leadership, gives vibrancy and substance to that claim of successful, committed transition.
Many timeless works and authors of the ‘60s found place weekly in The New Yorker, and are included in The 60s, such as James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Rachel Carson, Bob Dylan, Cassius Clay, John Cheever, John Updike and many others. The anthology is organized in parts, titled: Reckonings (environment, race, crime); Confrontation (University integration, Berkeley, Chicago, Washington, Prague); American Scenes (Cuba crisis, The Great Society, Missile silos, Woodstock, Assassinations); plus Artists & Athletes; Poetry; Critics (Cinema, Art & Architecture, Television, Theater, Music, Books).
Current New Yorker writers, including Jill Lapore, Malcolm Gladwell, and David Remnick himself, provide thoughtful, contemporary, historical context for the selected works. The result is a fascinating time capsule portraying rising awareness or calls to action during what was, undeniably, a turbulent period.
One may pose several questions on editorial decisions driving this otherwise superb ‘60s collection: Where is Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique, 1963) who ignited the contemporary women’s movement? Where is Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, 1960) whose Atticus Finch lionized “white” courage in the face of racial prejudice? Where is Malcolm X’s Autobiography, 1965, which changed the way many Whites and Blacks looked at their worlds?
Despite these omissions, the book deserves your attention and a place on your bookshelf, along with its predecessors, The 40s and The 50s. Finder’s works are towering celebrations, which should be read by anyone wishing to visit or revisit the trauma and upheaval of the ‘40s, the tensions, and innovations that underlay the placid ‘50s, and the “shattering of glass” which marked the ‘60s.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe
Book Review by Mike Wall
In Belfast, Northern Ireland in late December of 1972 as many as eight men shoved their way into the apartment of Jean McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother who had just stepped out of her bath. They ordered her to dress and come with them. All but two of the men were masked. Jean’s oldest son recognized the unmasked men as neighbors. One man carried a handgun. All 10 of her children were present. Downstairs more masked men waited. Jean was bundled into a van. A man put the muzzle of a gun next to her son’s face and told him to leave.
Her body was discovered in 2003. A blue diaper pin she kept clipped to her blouse helped identify her. No one had been prosecuted for her murder.
Using the murder of Jean McConville as the lodestar, Keefe tells the story of The Troubles, the internecine violence and open warfare that has taken the lives of more than 3500 people since 1969. Brokered by the United States, The Troubles ended with The Good Friday Agreement of April 1998.
This book records the aftereffects of this conflict, how the participants, years later, “nursed old grudges and endlessly replayed their worst abominations”, and how “they never stopped devouring themselves (322).”
We learn what happened to Jean McConville.
Decades later Gerry Adams. an IRA leader was heckled while giving a speech. The man in the crowd yelled, “Bring back the IRA!” Adams shot back, “They haven’t gone away, you know (319).”
That is a moment to make you gasp, that it could all come back. Yeats in his great poem on the Irish revolt against British rule, “Easter, 1916” asked if all the deaths were worth the gain.
Jean McConville’s death was not. She is the person who matters, the name and story that forces us to move beyond statistics and slogans and into the real pain of political violence. Visit our BLOG for more reviews.