The story goes back and forth through time slowly imagining Christina's sad story and how Andrew Wyeth came to know and paint her. Christina spent her entire life living in her family's dilapidated farm house in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. As a young child, she developed a debilitating disease that was never diagnosed but slowly robbed her of the ability to walk and use her limbs effectively. While she was quite intelligent, her father made her leave school after eighth grade and tend to household items. She never fully got over having to abandon her education. Between the school issue, her illness, and an unhappy romance, Christina developed into a complicated and sometimes bitter woman making choices that demonstrated her acrimony. I found it hard to like her but enjoyed learning her story.
Wyeth met Christina one summer when his family was visiting Maine. They went on to develop a relationship that lasted many years. Andrew Wyeth brought out a more sympathetic side of Christina, which he immortalized in his painting. The portions of the story where Wyeth appears and interacts with both Christina and her brother Al were my favorites.
Christina Baker Kline writes a character driven novel that brings Christina's World vividly to life. Thanks to BookBrowse and William Morrow for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
"Moonglow" is written as a memoir, with Chabon telling the story of his grandfather's last days during which he told Chabon much about his life (which he had not previously shared.) Chabon's grandather (who is not named) lived a very interesting life, which included serving in World War II. His wife (Chabon's grandmother) fled Europe after the war with her daughter in tow. Throughout their marriage they dealt with many difficult things. It is hard to describe more than that without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say, the book is very well written and very interesting.
If you like Chabon's other books you'll like this one. You'll also like it if you like historical fiction, especially set from World War II on, or if you like books with lots of characters.
First works are always great fun to keep an eye on. They are full of promise and if a book demonstrates ability there's a certain heady joy in realizing that you among the first to recognize a new talent in ascendance. BookBrowse loves debut authors because we know how much book lovers value the thrill of a find, in seeking out that special talent and getting in on the action with a ringside seat. In this edition, we feature half a dozen outstanding debuts, all of which are now released in paperback. To make things even better for your book club, these selections also have reading guides to kick-start discussions. Happy reading!
I found this book a bit difficult to get into at first, but once I was a few pages in, I was captured by Shubin's tales and explanations. Some passages are written with such learned vocabulary that I had to reread them, but once I could comprehend the message, I was in awe. Not only in awe of the subjects but also of how Shubin is able to explain and put a new twist on how things connect in our world.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with an itch of curiosity about the universe, the earth, and people. It is an eye-opening read!
Mary Miller's Always Happy Hour is set in the south, but many will see it as something other than true southern fiction. The protagonists are too internalized, too walled off from the southerness the land, the people, the ethos of pride, racial discord, and defeat that is the beating heart of most great southern fiction; that is to say the forces that drive everything from regional pride to politics to art. More typical southern writers touch on some if not all of those forces, and create such [More]
A Spool of Blue Thread is the twentieth adult novel by award-winning American author, Anne Tyler. The Whitshank House on Bouton Rd, lovingly, carefully and painstakingly built by Junior Whitshank for Mr. Ernest Brill, was eventually home to Junior, Linnie Mae and their children, Merrick and Redcliffe. Later, Red and Abby brought up their four, Amanda, Jeannie, Denny and Stem, within its walls. It was built for a family and stood the test of time. And here is where the family gathers when Red and Abby begin to cope less well than they always did.
The issue of how to manage ageing parents is something common to most families; after their first solution fails, another is decided upon, but frictions arise between siblings when the (sort of) black sheep turns up to help. Old jealousies and frustrations surface, and in the course of events, certain secrets are revealed. Tyler has a singular talent for taking ordinary people doing ordinary things and keeping the reader enthralled and endeared. Her pace is sedate, her descriptive prose, gorgeous, her dialogue, realistic.
The narrative is split into four parts: the first tells, from multiple perspectives, of present day events in the Whitshank family, with plenty of references to the immediate (and less immediate) past; the second is from Abby's viewpoint, and details the day she fell in love with Red; the third gives Junior's point of view of events surrounding his early encounters with Linnie Mae and the start of their family life; the last, again from several perspectives, describes the present-day leave-taking from the Bouton Rd house.
Another novel that is characteristically Anne Tyler: funny, moving, thought-provoking and, again, quite brilliant.
"Does character develop over time? In novels, of course it does; otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story. But in life? I sometimes wonder. Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that's something different, more like decoration. Perhaps character resembles intelligence, except that character peaks a little later: between twenty and thirty, say. And after that, we're just stuck with what we've got. We're on our own. If so, that would explain a lot of lives, wouldn't it? And also-- if this isn't too grand a word--our tragedy."
"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but--mainly--to ourselves."
"We could start perhaps with the seemingly simple question. What is History? Any thoughts, Webster? 'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied a little too quickly.' Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated...'
The book also has a character named Lord Melbourne. As the Queen calls him Lord M for her heart has fallen. Despite the age differences and despite his past, it is through Lord Melbourne that he teaches the Queen. He teaches by being direct. He taught her not only the policies of being a queen, but lessons that life give us. He also shows her respect. Do not forget the historical era this book is in. A queen as a women was rare. There was only one queen before her. His teachings helped her be a better queen.
This book is historical fiction, with romance, and suspense. This writer takes these three subjects and interwoven into one of the best historical fiction novels. This is a book that you will always remember.
Peter Rinaldi, owner and publisher of Miss-Lou Magazine and the Natchez Sun, has caused wide-spread anger with a racist column calling for black youth in Natchez, Miss. who may be involved in gang activity to go to a local park and murder each other for the amusement of observers.
In Miss-Lou Magazine’s January 11-24, 2017 print edition, Rinaldi called for a “Gangbangers’ Rodeo” to bleed out what he considers to be the dredges of the community.
“As the population becomes more demographically poor, uneducated, unskilled, and dominantly African-American, the number of shootings have gone through the roof,” Rinaldi wrote.
And by “through the roof,” Rinaldi means “three shootings, two wounded, and unfortunately two deaths.” But Rinaldi doesn’t consider these deaths to be a bad thing. In fact, he thinks more murders may be helpful.
This is not such a bad thing, as one cynic remarked more criminals who shoot each other and are “taken out,” the safer it is for the rest of us, so the logic goes. Three shootings, three bad guys eliminated. Fifty shootings, fifty bad guys eliminated.
As if all victims of gun violence deserve death. Rinaldi continues:
Open to all gang-bangers with a .45 or 9mm handgun. Limited to 20 rounds per person. Entry fee $100. Must be paid in cash in advance. No checks. Limited to the first 100 people who sign up. The 100 people will be drawn up in a circle. When the referee’s starter pistol goes off, then the gang-bangers can start shooting each other. Last man standing (or alive) wins the $10,000. If only a few people are left after rounds are fired, the judges will give each remaining contestant another five rounds to finish the job.
Rinaldi goes on to write that “rap music will be provided by DJ Medical Mortem Medical Attention” and says that children must be 13-years-old or older to participate.
It is clear that Rinaldi thinks he’s clever as so many mediocre, racist white men do. In fact, he’s typical—a typical hate-monger trafficking in white hysteria and pathologizing black youth and the black community at-large in an attempt to be seen as rejecting political correctness in the hopes of making America great again. Note, he doesn’t even mention the criminality of white youth.
He’s a cliche, a pathetic cliche using his media real estate to plant seeds of bigotry, hatred, and fear.
He has conflated poverty, education level, unemployment, and blackness with violence without once pointing out the violent systemic racism that locks these things in place to secure whiteness and its last-ditch efforts at supremacy. Poverty is violent. Failing schools are violent. Substandard healthcare is violent. All of these things are issues that Natchez, Miss. faces as a thriving tourism industry built on the backs and bones of our ancestors feeds the mint-julep and Mammy fantasies of white people from around the world.
Rinaldi’s words are violent and just the sort of filth city officials have come to expect from him.
“I’m highly upset by this and I’ll be addressing it in our board meeting,” Ricky Gray, Supervisor, District 4, told The Root. “This is something that you would expect from the Ku Klux Klan, but I’ve been here a long time and have never seen anything like this.”“People in the community need to show him how disgusted they are by not putting an ad in his newspaper,” Gray added. “When people show you who they are, believe them. Because he’s certainly shown me.”
Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Alderwoman, Ward 1, was not surprised by what she called Rinaldi’s stupidity and said he’s been card-carrying racist for a long time.
“Rinaldi has been race-baiting over the years consistently in his paper,” Arceneaux-Mathis told The Root. “Even when I haven’t liked how he portrayed black people, I supported his freedom of press. But he’s always been a divisive race-baiter in this community. He just goes on and on, and now this particular bit of stupidity.”
Arceneaux-Mathis says she does believe that crime needs to be addressed in the community, but makes it clear that the issues are systemic.
“All lives matter when black lives matter,” she said. “There needs to be more recreation, more education and employment opportunities. We need to listen to our young people and bring them fully into the community. Too many of them don’t think they’re going to have a long life and when I was younger, I was prepared to live a long time. Our young people don’t feel that security.
“I think it’s time that we had a summit between law enforcement officers and the community at-large, that’s what Rinaldi should have been talking about,” Arceneaux-Mathis continued. “I attended a Hip-Hop Summit last month and I learned so much. That’s what Rinaldi should have been talking about.
“We have to start at the root of the problem that’s been building up over time,” she emphasized. “Our children are underserved and Rinaldi is serving a race-baiting agenda when he circulates such dangerous stupidity in a community that needs healing from systemic issues that have left some of our youth lashing out.”
Be clear: There is great work being done in the City of Natchez by committed community leaders and elected officials who understand the toxic and pervasive racism that threatens black youth. Peter Rinaldi purposely frames his racist propaganda as a black issue, a poor issue, an uneducated issue. As if the increase in black citizens threatens white fragility and the customs that white people hold dear.
His transparent and disingenuous attempts at criminalizing the very existence of blackness should be called out for the dangerous, racist rhetoric that it is.
Editor’s Note: The Root reached out to Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, but he was unavailable at the time this article was published. We will update with his response.
Also on The Root:
Every year, our congressional representatives hold an art contest for students in their districts, with the prize being a yearlong exhibition at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. It typically does not cause a murmur. This year’s unanimous winner in Missouri’s 1st District was my friend David Pulphus, a quiet, gentle, unassuming student. David’s painting hung for six months in peace.
In December 2016, his painting became troublesome for law enforcement, conservative publications and some politicians. The painting featured two officers with boar heads and human bodies drawing their firearms. The other officers in the painting were fully human. There was also an African-American male being crucified in a cap and gown. It portrayed police and community relations as David and I saw during the Ferguson crisis.
On Jan. 6, in the ultimate expression of privilege, disrespect and free-speech suppression, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) removed the painting. Four days later, the Congressional Black Caucus ceremoniously reinstalled it. That day, Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) removed the painting, declaring it “flagrantly” disrespectful to police officers “across the country.”
Their actions challenge democracy’s essence and highlight the privilege that white people in positions of power wield: immunity. It is unimaginable that either David or I could enter the Capitol and remove the statue of slavery advocate John C. Calhoun without being accosted and likely arrested. The representatives are demonstrating that rules and laws apply only to certain citizens. The misplaced anger of these “authorities” fails to address critical issues pertinent to conditions in African-American communities, police-community relations and constitutional rights.
Art imitates life, but no critic has asked the fundamental question the painting raises: Why would a young student with hope, promise and purpose perceive our community and the police in such a manner?
The officials did not take into account the role that militarization of policing has played in African-American communities (including Ferguson, Mo., and St. Louis), or the way that stop and frisk and pretext stops invade the privacy of African-American citizens. These are things that I have personally experienced. The police-involved shootings of unarmed and legally armed African Americans also have apparently not pricked the consciousness of the “art critics.”
The depiction in the painting is implicitly understood among African Americans, but less so by whites. A 2015 Pew Research Group poll showed a wide chasm between blacks and whites in the perception of whether police treat people equally. The chasm between these two perspectives is caused by a long, brutal and oppressive history. David’s painting meticulously illustrates that gulf.
David’s expression is not the serene setting one might observe in a Monet. There are no sunscapes and lily pads but, rather, an accurate portrayal of this young, achieving American’s experiences with police. His work is a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. Recent incidents send a message to African-American youths not to bother with pursuing excellence because even if their work is recognized, it will be removed by those who cannot understand it and who see themselves as the exclusive arbiters of Americanism. This is sad because history has proved that the mark of a declining civilization is the persecution of intellectualism and art (see Sparta).
When Duncan Hunter, Doug Lamborn and their colleagues removed David’s painting, they illegally and dangerously silenced free speech for their own comfort. They should be arrested by the same police whom the painting offended. Furthermore, Congress should censure the uncivilized representatives for their un-American acts in the Capitol. They placed their feelings above what makes America great: the freedom of expression.
In the United States, certain groups have achieved untouchable status when it comes to criticism. Citizens may not suggest that policing needs reform without their love of country being questioned. There has been a public shift from constructive analysis of police action to the shaming of anyone who dares to share his or her human experience.
These elected officials’ behavior is a clear display of privilege. African Americans get the message: Freedom of expression is only for police-worshipping, privileged citizens. The representatives will likely not be punished because law enforcement and elected officials have far more restraint for white “protesters” than for black resisters.
David’s only comment is, “The art speaks for itself.” It has spoken loudly. Now, who will protect American civilization, including our Constitution and democracy?
Students at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, Fla., staged a sit-in earlier this week demanding a change in the way African-American history is taught in Duval County Public Schools, Action News Jax reports.
The organizer of the sit-in, Angelina Roque, said that she and her other classmates wanted to protest because they believed that African-American history is a topic that deserves a full year of class time, which will in turn benefit all of their classmates. Students and their parents met with administrators Tuesday to discuss the topic.
According to Action News Jax, the course is currently offered only as a semester-long, or half-year, course.
Roque, a 10th-grader, told the news station that the protest was to “make them hear us, make them see us, make them listen to us.”
She was one of about 10 or so other students who called for a change.
“[The other students] risked being in trouble over a cause that we all truly think more people should be concerned about,” Roque said.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that the students who raised the issue of the way the class is being taught will not be disciplined.
“Historically, Terry Parker and other high schools in Duval County has offered the course, but as a half-credit, not as a full credit … we will, and are certainly willing to offer it as a full-year course starting in the fall,” Vitti said. “I respect that students demonstrated self-advocacy and used their voice to signal concerns about their education. If there is student demand for a full-credit and yearlong African-American-history course, then we should and will provide it to students. We will work through the process of developing and offering that course.”
Action News Jax investigated how other neighboring school districts taught African-American history to compare. In Clay County, African-American history is currently offered as a half-credit, semester-long elective, the same as in Duval. In St. Johns County, schools offer a different course, African-American literature, which is a yearlong elective course.
“Being able to have a full course of African-American history … that will honestly make a big difference. It will help the cultural gap,” Roque said.
In order to have African-American history as a full-year course available to all students, school officials will have to work with the state and make sure that state standards, as well as staffing needs and costs, are being met.
However, first students have to put their request in writing, which Terry Parker’s are currently working on doing, according to Action News Jax.
Read more at Action News Jax.