Faulkner’s Light in August Revisited

I recently reread Light in August, published by William Faulkner in 1932. I experienced it as a parading and indictment of the stunning racism and misogyny of the white southerners at its center and I wrote a blog post sharing those views. I later mentioned the book to my friend Samuel, an African-American man in his 80s. I wondered if he’d read it because he’s a great person to discuss books with. Samuel hadn’t read the book because he’d heard over the years that Faulkner was very racist, but he decided to read it now despite that. After confronting [...]

So You Asked What I Feel About Overturning Roe (she said, screaming)

Radical rightwing assault on female reproductive liberty has grown like a pustule on the American body politic and is ready to release its toxins far and wide. This ugly growth explodes from the confluence of deep desires to control women’s reproduction and limitless greed for power. Votes translate to muscle in Washington DC so the powers that be are more than happy to feign an achingly principled objection to abortion if that posture opens the spigots for rightwing money flowing into their re-election coffers--since re-election (by whatever means necessary) is the ONLY currency of any worth. Dressing themselves in [...]

By |2022-05-09T16:16:40+00:00May 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Light in August by William Faulkner

I read Light in August many years ago and was moved by it but didn't remember a great deal more than that. I wanted to revisit it. With this reading, I again found it to be a remarkable book. It is first and foremost an unflinching book—from a fearless writer—that examines Southern, American society in the early 1930s and finds it in many respects insane in its delirious fundamentalist animus toward black-skinned people and sexual women. The story opens and closes with bookending scenes of a young woman, Lena--preternaturally calm in demeanor--who goes in search of the father of the [...]

Midwest Beauty

I used to joke that it’s great to live in the Midwest because any direction you travel is a vacation. More interesting, more beautiful. Not so these days. I’ve come to appreciate the quiet beauty of Midwestern landscapes. Yes, there's climate change and the reality that coastal living brings visions of sinking into the sea or rising into the sky in smoke and ashes, so the Midwest seems relatively safe. But I think it’s also the gift of dog walking. Dogs need to stick their noses into every tuft of grass where a mouse might be quivering, to stand frozen, [...]

By |2022-04-10T16:44:33+00:00April 10th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

When We Were Orphans (Ishiguro): book review

I admired this carefully crafted novel in some ways but was ultimately unsatisfied by it. Per usual with Ishiguro, it is thoughtfully structured and narrated in the first person by an unreliable narrator whose inner reality we gradually discover as the story proceeds. Very briefly, the narrator is a man living in England whose parents disappeared in Shanghai China when he was a child living there. He assumes their disappearance related to the opium trade and as an adult becomes a detective in part to try to locate them. The language, as in other Ishiguro books, is precise and can, [...]

By |2022-04-06T22:53:04+00:00April 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kitchen Implements and Aging

Last month I bought pie weights which I don’t use often but now have available in lieu of random oven-proof objects to hold down a pie shell for blind baking so that it doesn't bubble up in the oven. Yesterday I bought a meat mallet. I will no longer pound chicken breasts with a hammer to thin them for chicken piccata. I almost bought a Japanese spider strainer but decided I may not need one because I have a slotted spoon and a traditional strainer. Though the old strainer is dented and a bit rusty, it will suffice.   I [...]

By |2022-03-31T21:47:58+00:00March 31st, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Maturational Shame

  March 20, 2022Today a friend forwarded me a NYT article entitled "The Many Uses (and Abuses) of Shame" https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/18/books/shame-machine-cathy-oneil.html?referringSource=articleShare3/20,22(Jennifer Szalai). The article focuses on a new book, The Shame Machine, by Cathy P'Neil, among other subjects. I was interested in the topic because I wrote two books on shame (The Shame Experience, and Shame in Context: http://susanbethmiller.com). The NYT article got me thinking a bit about constructive or what I'll call "maturational" shame in the context of fiction I have written, particularly my recent novel, A Beautiful Land, which, you may detect, I am trying to market. I had [...]

By |2022-03-21T00:49:27+00:00March 20th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Excited to work for voting rights: Promote the Vote 2022

Along with many others, I have been very concerned about efforts to restrict voting rights throughout the country. In Michigan, where I live, a number of organizations are teaming up to try to place a measure on the November ballot that will enshrine critical voting rights in the State Constitution. I am working with Voters Not Politicians, the group that made a tremendous effort to pass Proposal 2, which ended partisan gerrymandering in Michigan by creating an independent citizens redistricting commission. Also involved with the current effort is the ACLU, which worked successfully to pass Promote the Vote into law [...]

By |2022-03-05T00:47:25+00:00March 5th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Literati Bookstore conversation

Literati bookstore in Ann Arbor hosted me and podcaster Doug Wheeler (podcast, From the Belly) in conversation about my new novel, A Beautiful Land. Doug is a wonderful interviewer and it is always fun and interesting to talk with him. Literati posted the virtual event on their YouTube channel   https://youtu.be/1I868hIcP3U

By |2022-02-27T19:37:05+00:00February 27th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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