This Month's Articles
The Never List
By Koethi Zan
Reviewed by Janet Garber
Coeds in the Cellar
Koethi Zan, a former entertainment lawyer and first-time novelist, gives us a ripped-from-the-headlines story of abducted young women held captive and tortured, some trafficked, some killed. The novel is very topical and, unfortunately, very realistic in its premise, and told from the point of view of an abductee who managed to escape ten years before. As the action opens, she learns that hiding in her apartment will not keep the world out – her tormentor is up for parole.
Unanswered questions, the investigative fumbling of the FBI, the search for the body of her close friend all push her to conquer her agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress symptoms and re-enter the world to do some of her own investigation.
She reunites with two of the other women who shared the cellar with her, all wounded and hostile to each other, and they embark on a quest to find further proof of evil doings that will ensure the kidnapper is locked up for eternity.
The chase is gripping and the reader is filled with a sense of dread every time they venture into a dark building – at night – or follow thuggish men – on backwoods roads – without a flashlight! Some of these scenes frankly stretch the reader’s credibility. I mean, c’mon, we wouldn’t attempt these things (but then again, we haven’t lived through their traumas!) Similar to our reactions to horror films, we’re often on the edge of.....Read More
The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights
By William P. Jones
Reviewed by Fred Beauford
The Birth of Democracy
On August 28, 1963 something truly amazing occurred: the birth of true Democracy came to our shores for the very first time. Martin Luther King, Jr. famous “I Have a Dream “ speech resonated throughout the land, and as his companion in the fight for Democracy, Ralph Abernathy wrote in his excellent memoir of the same name, “The Walls Came Tumbling Down.”
Although It wasn’t just King’s speech alone that caused the onrush of freedom for women, gays, the rights of the planet earth not to be destroyed by human greed, and often overlooked, the rights of freedom of movement for the elderly and folks who suffer from handicaps (those kneeling buses, indented sidewalks and accommodations on public transportation for wheelchairs we now take for granted in cites and towns across the nation, didn’t come into being until advocates of rights for freedom of movement started using the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement)-- it brilliantly summed up, for all to hear, just what an American Democracy should look like for the first time in our short history.
As William P. Jones In his book The March on Washington: Job, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, Dr. King, the father of the Civil Rights Movement had many grandfathers and grandmothers, both black and white, and many greatgrandparents, for that matter.
One of the grandest grandfathers of all was the towering trade union leader A. Philip Randolph, who founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping car Porters and Maids, who first called for a march on Washington in 1941 to press for equal opportunity in employment and the armed forces.
Professor Jones, who teaches history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, first takes us through the volatile radical politics of 30s. For reason unknown, the 60s always grabbed the headlines for American radicalism, but that decade pales in comparison beside the 30s, the decade Randolph earned his strips.
Because of the Great Depression, starting with the collapse of Wall Street in 1929, the fun years of the “roaring twenties,” with its blazing stock market, jazz and endless booze, dancing and sex, was over.
Now, outright Fascist, Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, Racist ruled the streets with rigid rules that must be followed. Meanwhile, the old establishment dug in, ready for a fight.
What I found most interesting about this decade, with its.....Read More
by Kara Fox
A Photographic Journey Through China
Photos by Kara Fox
I love China. And, it's not by accident, as I step off the plane to explore this magnificent corner of the world, I am filled with music: Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D Minor, also known as “The Choral,” one of the greatest, most complex, pieces of music ever written.
No single performance of the 9th defines the greatness of Beethoven's genius, nor does any single aspect of China define its significant contributions to the world. To me, China feels like the most complex of symphonies, sweet and discordant, all the pieces seamlessly coming together.
China is like an over-sized canvas filled with constantly changing images, from its muted tones on a hazy day to its vibrantly exploding colors. The skyline, dotted with hundreds of cranes atop unfinished skyscrapers, pieces of colorful laundry strung from windows of most living spaces dancing in the wind, bicycles weaving in and out of traffic on crowded highways, people flowing gracefully through T'ai chi meditative exercises in parks - all moving in concert like the 9th.
Travelling from Bejing, imagining what it must have been like to live behind the walls of the Forbidden City, to Xi'an, experiencing the awe of the ancient Terracotta.....Read More
Topsy: The Startling Story Of The Crooked-Tail Elephant, P.T. Barnum, And The American Wizard, Thomas Edison
By Michael Daly
Reviewed by Robert Fleming
As a young reporter at the New York Daily News in the 1980s, I heard of the brilliance of columnist Michael Daly, his award-winning articles, his brash attitude, and his sudden fall from grace concerning a May 8, 1981 column which he wrote of a bloody clash between British soldiers and youths in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The London Daily Mail called it “a pack of lies” and “a work of pure imagination.” It turns out that Daly wasn’t even there. The British army said the soldiers in the column existed and none of the patrols remembered seeing an American reporter. Daly was forced to resign to save the paper from further embarrassment.
Like current scandal-ridden politicos, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, aiming their sights at civic redemption, Daly has positioned himself for a second act as well. He has shaken himself off like a literary Lazarus, moved past the criticism of his former tabloid past and a lackluster stint at New York Magazine, to become a special correspondent with Newsweek and The Daily Beast. His third book, Topsy, has just been published this summer.
First, let me say, Daly has done a commendable job researching the America at the turn of the last century, going into the heyday of the circus as a cultural institution, the nature of the media hoaxes, the gullible public obsessed with cheap thrills. However, the author focuses his energy on big-time circus entrepreneur Adam Forepaugh’s prize elephant, Topsy, named after the character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Circus hype sold the crowds on the pachyderm being the America’s first-born native, but in reality, it was smuggled as a baby from Asia around 1875 and eventually featured as a prize attraction in Coney Island.
Some of the most intriguing sections of the book involve the no-holds-barred rivalry of ruthless master showmen P.T. Barnum and Forepaugh, who use every media and marketing trick in their “War of the Elephants,” a highly-contested campaign to present America with a younger, stronger, and “sacred” animal.
Using letters, newspaper accounts, and internal circus memos, Daly recreates the white-hot competition between the titans as they tried to draw crowds into their tents and.....Read More
Sayyid Qutb—the Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual
By James Toth
An essay by Jane M McCabe
Most Westerners, unless they’ve paid attention to the history of the Middle East, have never heard of Sayyid Qutb. That’s just another indication of how separate the Muslim and the Western worlds are. He was a thinker, the 20th Century Islamic theologian, who gave voice to Fundamentalism and thus endures in the public imagination as the architect who inspired the 9/11 hijackers.
He has been called “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror.” He was also our harshest critic—no other voice challenges our way of life in more Jeremiahic terms than his.
Sayyid Qutb was born in the Egyptian village of Musha in 1906. (In the 1850’s, when Gustave Flaubert traveled to Egypt, he found it to be a lazy backwater. Later in the 19th Century, because it could not pay the interest incurred on its national debt, in 1882, Great Britain invaded. It remained in control of Egypt.....Read More
My Life :The Restored Edition
By Isadora Duncan
With a new introduction by Joan Acocella
Reviewed by Amanda Martin
The Mother of Modern Dance, Isadora Duncan
Free spirit, self-proclaimed pagan who considered the Art of the Dance her religion (and yes that is “Art” with a capital “A”), Duncan is generally cited as one of the founders — if not the mother — of modern dance. Eighty-seven years after it first came out, Isadora Duncan’s autobiography My Life is being republished in a new restored edition.
Born 1887 in San Francisco, California — “by the sea,” she is quick to point out, “under the star of Aphrodite,” Duncan claims almost to have been born dancing from the womb. Certainly she had a sense of her own importance from early on, her mission was to restore Dance back to the highest pantheon of the Arts by choreographing and dancing to the best classical music composed, both past and contemporary.
She disliked ballet, which she thought artificial and stiff, and looked to the music to inspire her movements. Before the age.....Read More
American Slavery: The ties that bind
Excerpt from The First Decade: Essays 2000-2010
An essay by Fred Beauford
Los Angeles, 2005
“The English have a lot to answer for.”
After I was half way through the second of the many books I would review for this assignment on American slavery-- as all the shameful, stomach churning details slowly unfolded before me-- it suddenly became crystal clear why this subject is rarely taught at our institutions of learning in this country, or why we have never had a Ken Burn’s type PBS treatment on television, despite the fact that we have been a slave holding country more years than we have been a true democracy.
If the full truth was fully told, it would cause too much pain. The religious would ask, as many Jews must have surely asked after the Holocaust, where was God? Whites, especially those with a British background, would hang their heads in shame. And Blacks would be filled with a burning, bitter anger at what happened to their ancestors.
So it’s best to let the subject go, and pretend that only crybabies like Randall Robinson care about this aspect of American history.
But this is a subject that won’t go away, as the lingering.....Read More
A WRITER'S WORLD
A Writer's World
By Molly Moynahan
How to Collaborate
“Collaboration on a book is the ultimate unnatural act.”
Collaboration is a little like s’mores or swing dancing classes. It sounds like a good idea at the time but when you actually commit, you mostly wish you didn’t. Now, I rarely collaborate. I’m a novelist, which means I spend months and years trying to make a bunch of characters do something meaningful and then I kill them off metaphorically by writing The End.
After a brief period of mourning, I try to find someone nice enough to read the thing and possibly make some helpful suggestions. This is not collaboration.
I once tried collaborating on a sit-com pilot with a woman I liked enormously who also happened to be very funny. We spun together some great ideas and then I went off and wrote some stuff and she went off and wrote some stuff when she wasn’t minding her two toddlers. We got back together and laughed at all our jokes. We parted again and she discovered she was pregnant. When we again joined forces, the material wasn’t funny. I suggested her pregnancy had ruined her sense of humor and we never spoke to one another again.
Writing films is a collaborative project but it’s also very weird. You produce a script, people make suggestions, you rewrite and everyone tells you it is brilliant. Then you get a lot more suggestions, many which contradict the previous ones. You try and incorporate the new ideas and suddenly a very famous producer shows up and makes lunatic.....Read More
Pray for Us Sinners
Read by: John Keating
Reviewed by: Michael Carey
Pray for Us Sinners, originally published in 2000 is dropping on the literary scene once again. The author, Patrick Taylor, has found great success and renown in these thirteen years for his fiction set in the Irish countryside, most notably with his Irish Country series.
Taylor has an interesting and successful past: growing up in Northern Ireland, earning his M.D., leaving the troubles of his home country for Canada where he contributed to the field of medical research, and eventually throwing his hat in the ring of novel writing.
Pray for Us Sinners is a tale of war, a story that takes place during the battle for Northern Ireland. The Provisional IRA is concocting schemes to make Belfast and the rest of the six counties of Northern Ireland ungovernable.
If the British can’t control the lands they will be forced to leave. In this effort the Provos are becoming more daring and savage, attacking civilian targets to get at .....Read More
by: M. J. Moore
When he got out of the taxi, he collapsed curbside. It was Christmas Eve in 1955.
By now the cold air was just frigid enough to make his face sting whenever the wind blew. And New York City, of course, with most of its routine hurly-burly drastically diminished by the grand pause that only certain major holidays can induce, had that unmistakable overlay of forlorn Yuletide stillness. December 24th was hardly the ideal night for a gall-bladder crisis.
Somehow, though, it was an apt night for the kind of private, thoughtful mental reckoning that a bout of illness often produces. The man who fell by the curb that night was neither old nor feeble. He had no chronic medical problems. In general, like most other men of his generation, this 35-year-old man (who crumpled as soon as he hauled himself out of the taxi) was assumed to be in the prime of his life.
In the magazine-saturated and advertising-centric TV culture of 1955, it was the men of this demographic—the guys of the G.I. Bill generation, supposedly rising in the .....Read More