- Why Volunteer
I had finished my Thursday volunteering stint at Urban Ministries and was tidying up when Brittany came back. “David, would you mind taking one more person? She says she’s sick.”
I said I’d be happy to. I wasn’t in a hurry.
“She’s a new client,” she said.
The woman who came back didn’t look like a lot of ... Read more
- True Love Single White Monk: Tales of Death, Failure, and Bad Sex by Shozan Jack Haubner. Shambhala. 208 pp. $14.95.
I was not a big fan of Shozan Jack Haubner’s first book, Zen Confidential. I thought it was overwritten, and that he often seemed to be trying too hard. I did appreciate his honesty, and the way he ... Read more
- Can’t Face It Anymore When the Life Force Can’t Fight the Death Wish
I was talking to a friend I meet every week for lunch and we were catching up before we ordered. “I had to go to a funeral this weekend,” Tom said. “I told you my neighbor died, didn’t I?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “How did he ... Read more
- They Couldn’t Just Run Off in Her Prius? Victoria and Abdul a film by Stephen Frears. With Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard. ***
I found this movie captivating. The story of an unlikely friendship between an aging Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) and an Indian servant named Abdul (Ali Fayal), it shows the lonely old woman—who has let herself go to the ... Read more
- He Cared Too Much Stories by John O’Hara. The Library of America. 860 pp. $40.00
John O’Hara was an Irish Catholic and doctor’s son from Eastern Pennsylvania who believed—apparently for much of his life—that he would have been a happy man if he had just gone to Yale. That didn’t keep him from getting booted from three prep schools, one ... Read more
- Overwhelmed The Happiness that Takes Some Time to Ripen
We had sat down for the reception at my niece’s wedding—tables of eight arranged all around the room—when I realized how my brother had seated us. It was the three living siblings from my generation—Bill, Rusty, and me, with our wives—along with our sister’s oldest child Tade and ... Read more
- Academic Hack Straight Man by Richard Russo. Vintage Contemporaries. 391 pp. $14.00. ****
I read this book because of Jennifer Senior’s review of Richard Russo’s latest book, in which she called Straight Man a better academic novel than David Lodge’s Campus Trilogy. I was so impressed by that remark, and the general tenor of Senior’s review, that I ... Read more
- Beckett in the Bardo The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. $15.95.
The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me. Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves for years—I finished the first two, but admitted publicly, in this space, that I gave up ... Read more
- Stories Short and Long Autumn by Ali Smith. Pantheon. 264 pp. $24.95
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley. Washington Square Press. 208 pp. $14.00
There are short stories that seem to have enough material for novels. Alice Munro’s late work was like that, any number of mid-length stories, forty or fifty pages, which encompassed an entire life. Frank O’Connor said ... Read more
- Distinctly Praise the Years Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany. Wesleyan/New England. 212 pp.
Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep. The fact that I’ve read it before doesn’t in the least diminish it. I love spending time in the presence of such ... Read more