Identity Crisis

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty Vendela Vida Take inventory of what distinguishes you from the everyone else and you’ll find there’s really quite a lot. There are obvious things like your name, your physical description, and the clothes on your back, and then there are esoteric things like experiences, memories, and the people who populate…

Form Over Fiction

God Help the Child Toni Morrison Toni Morrison, an author that I gladly read twice, thrice, whatever it takes, that I study and annotate and emulate, came out with her highly anticipated novel, God Help the Child. Even with her illustrious presence as author, literary thought leader, Nobel, Pulitzer, et al., this, her eleventh novel,…

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi Reading Lolita in Tehran takes you to another place–really–I mean you are “not in Kansas anymore!”  Author, Azar Nafisi envelopes you with the textural content of a post-revolution Tehran and with scenes from her teaching experience there.  She teaches fiction at University of Allameh Tabatabei, where her feminist interpretations of literary…

Emotions vs. Economics

Still Alice Lisa Genova In Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, Alice Howland, an accomplished professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease learns that her worth is comprised of more than her ability to remember. Alice is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at…

Toxic Love

White Oleander Janet Fitch In creative writing workshops the first thing you learn is to “show instead of tell” your story.  This applies to character, setting, scene, etc., and author Janet Fitch’s novel, White Oleander, is my go-to book for examples in doing this.  She’s written a novel rich with sensory detail and prose so…

An Alexandrian Imbaba

It really has little to do with what a place has to offer, and more to do with what you bring to and take from it; after all, everyone travels with baggage and picks up souvenirs along the way. I first visited Alexandria in 1993.  The locals called it Xandraia.  Phonetically pronounced: Scan-dray-a. I believe…

What is it to be…me?

The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan Most of you have probably read The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan.  If you haven’t, then you’ve most likely seen the movie adaptation directed by Wayne Wang and produced by Oliver Stone.  This was my second time reading the book, and it was ironically prompted by my high…

Angela’s Ashes

Angela’s Ashes Frank McCourt This was my hour of power summer—meaning I packed my summer full of an hour each day (sometimes more) of powerful 20th century and modern day classics—and I’m proud of myself.  I’ve not only read more than a handful of wonderful novels, I’ve viewed their movies or listened to them performed,…

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston I have a reading list a mile long, so the choice of my next book has lately been influenced by what’s been written about the book before I open it.  This was the case with Their Eyes Were Watching God.  The talk surrounding this book weighed heavily…