In his short essay, “Dear Santa (Again),” Rick Bragg writes, “For my big brother Sam, I would like you to send a cinder block. He can place it atop his foot, when he drives. I once wrote that all he needed to pass for an old woman behind the wheel was a pillbox hat and pearls, but have since decided that is insulting … to old women. Old women blow right past him.”
For five years or so, Nick Hornby’s Ten Years In The Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books has occupied a place of honor on my bookshelves, meaning it’s always close at hand. In this thick volume are the monthly reviews Hornby wrote for the Believer, as witty, bright, and, yes, brilliant a collection of columns as you’ll find anywhere. When I am in need of some wit or sparkling prose, I go to Ten Years In The Tub.
As I write this book review, the presidential election is one day away. Like many of my readers, I have followed the online news regarding this race — the polls, the rallies, the daily barrage of commentaries on who deserves our votes. In the next few days, these weighty and acrimonious conflicts will, I hope, be resolved.
So you’re a reader, a lover of books and the printed word, and if the pandemic permits, you visit your library or local bookstore, and browse the shelves. Or maybe a friend hands you a book and says, “I think you might like this one,” though the last one she gave you sits untouched on the nightstand.
Near the beginning of Katherine Center’s novel What You Wish For (St. Martin’s Press, 2020, 309 pages), school librarian Samantha Casey suffers an attack of epilepsy while driving and runs her car into the side of a 7-Eleven. She suffers bruises and requires stitches for her cuts, but she is chiefly distraught at the return of her epilepsy after so many years.
Right after Labor Day, my friend John and I traveled to Virginia’s Historic Triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. A paper for which I write had commissioned me to do some pieces on each place, and though I had visited there earlier in my life, that was long ago.
George Vanderbilt first opened Biltmore, his magnificent private estate, to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895. Today, his descendants continue welcoming guests with that same spirit of gracious hospitality.
We’re all aware that many items in the supermarket have increased in price, so it will be no surprise to discover that this year it will be more expensive to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table. Here are some ways to save: