A trip to the beach without leaving home

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

So Ishmael opens Moby Dick. 

Author treats death and grief with realism

Some will understand more fully than others.

On a Wednesday you arrive home to find the one you love collapsed on the bedroom floor. The rescue squad brings her to the hospital. Now she is in neurological intensive care with a brain aneurysm, her skull shaven, kept alive with breathing and feeding tubes, monitored for heartbeat and brain activity. Surrounding her are other patients, many of them unconscious from blood clots in the brain, blows to the head, or some other trauma. 

Something satisfying in a good mystery

Jack Reacher is back.

In Past Tense (Delacorte Press, 2018, 382 pages), Lee Child, author of 21 novels about Jack Reacher, plus a collection of short stories, drops the wandering hero into the town where Reacher’s father was born and raised. Reacher has never visited Laconia, New Hampshire, and hopes to see where his deceased father came of age, believing some familiarity with the town might allow him insights into his family’s history. 

The art of writing can certainly be learned

“What we have here is failure to communicate.”

So says The Captain, the warden of a prison, in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” after he knocks Luke down a hill for smart-mouthing him.

Apollo missions were propelled by a bold vision

July 20, 1969.

This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped to the moon’s surface while Michael Collins flew above them in lunar orbit. About 650 million people worldwide watched the live event on television. Millions of others listened to it on their radios or followed the progress of the astronauts in their newspapers. Those of us who watched will never forget where we were when those grainy images of human beings on the moon’s surface flickered on our television screens.

A quick run through some fine books


Those two words conjure up images of washing windows, storing away the winter clothes, and carting off odds-and-ends to the Salvation Army.

For me, spring-cleaning means attacking stacks of books, piles of papers, and a platoon of bookshelves in whose dust I could write sonnets with my fingertips.

Jennie Churchill was anything but a prude

Mrs. Patrick Campbell, famed Victorian actress, was renowned for her sharp wit. On hearing about a sexual relationship between two contemporaries, she supposedly remarked, “My dear, I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”

A book for those who love books


Yes! YES! YES!

Lest you think I am wallowing in some bed of literoticism or celebrating Molly Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses, let me clarify. I am celebrating the return of one of the great bibliophiles of our age to the public square, by which I mean the world of print. It’s an occasion that calls for little black dresses and tuxedos, a platter of Brie and baguettes, fireworks, some lively chamber music, magnums of champagne, and hands raw with applause.

Reading aloud is good medicine for all

Here are two books about books, one aimed at amusement, the other at instruction. Or so they were written and published. Personally, I found them both amusing and instructive.

A worthwhile book on raising children

Much is made these days of “snowflakes,” slang for some of our young people. One online source defines snowflakes as individuals with “an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are over-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.” Some commentators even speak of a “Snowflake Generation.”

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