Tag Archives: America

Between The World And Me

25147754Between The World And Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Spiegel & Grau, New York, 2016

I own it.

There is only one thing I have to say about this book.  Please read it, then sit with what you read, then read it again.

Here is a link to some quotes.


Filed under American History, Memoir, Racism

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

1401340873.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Hyperion, New York, 2012

Borrowed from my library.  I’ve had this one on my TBR list for a while. I must admit I was a bit nervous about reading it.  The time and place could part of my personal story and, having found Groff’s The Monster of Templeton a bit unbalanced, I wasn’t sure how she would portray this slice of American history.  I needn’t have worried.

Arcadia is Ridley Sorrel Stone’s story.  Known as Bit, born in a van traveling with a caravan of trucks, buses and VWs searching for paradise, this child grows up in a commune known as Arcadia.  Acreage filled with fields and forest and a run-down mansion in upstate New York, lead by musician/guru Handy and overflowing with mid-wives, farmers, bakers and those lost to mind-bending drugs, Arcadia grows and changes along with Bit and his parents, Hannah and Abe.

When Bit closes his eyes, he can see what Abe can see,how Arcadia spreads below him: the garden where the other children push corn, bean seeds into the rows,the Pond. The fresh plowed corduroy fields, workers like burdocks stuck to them.  Amos the Amish’s red barn, tiny in the distance.  The roll of the forest tucked up under the hills.  And whatever is beyond: cities of glass, of steel.  from page 80.

This could have been over the top, but Groff handles it gently, in a kind and balanced way.  Her writing is vivid, both in depicting Arcadia, the falling-down and rebuilt mansion, and in telling the stories of the people who live there .  In reality, not all people living on communes were dysfunctional, some where completely committed to building a new way of living and being.  As Bit grows up and ventures into the “real” world he takes the lessons learned from his parents, his “extended” family and Arcadia with him.

I enjoyed Arcadia, it will be on my Best of 2013 list, and I look forward to reading more from Lauren Groff.  In skimming some comments about this novel on GoodReads, I saw several references to “dirty hippies”.  Can I say that I find this term highly offensive?  Want to talk about it?


Filed under America, Books, Historical Fiction, LiteraryFiction, Thoughts

With Tears..

I don’t talk politics or social issues on this blog.  I keep it safe.  I can no longer keep walking that thin line.  My heart won’t stand for it.  This is The Boss, live in Tampa, Florida, on 3/23/2012,  27 days after the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Peace to you.


Filed under America, Video

A People’s History – Columbus, The Indians and Human Progress

For those who are interested in reading along but do not have access to a hard copy of the book   History Is A Weapon has the entire A People’s History of the United States online.

And some relevent breaking newsRethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, a resource book for teachers by Bill Bigelow,  has been banned in Tucson, Arizona schools along with many other books and The Tempest by William Shakespeare.  More here,  here and here.

When I read that Jill and Jenners were doing a group read of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States I thought great, more folks reading Zinn and finding out things they didn’t learn in school.  Then I saw some of the comments and figured I had to jump in.

I felt like I had missed something since I last read this book.  When had people started referring to Zinn as “revisionist”?  Aren’t revisionists those folks who deny the Holocaust or deny the Armenian Genocide?  Then I did a bit of digging and found out there are now two kinds of  revisionism.  Negationism and Historical Revisionism.  I’m not going to define those terms here.  If you are interested follow the links.  My only concern is that people confuse them.

Jill and Jenners have done a wonderful job of writing about the first chapter and quoting from the book, focusing on  Zinn’s reasoning for writing A People’s History and his thoughts on history and education.  I want to do something different.

When I first read this book, 25 years or so ago,  I made every effort I could to read other sources, those that Zinn had suggested and those I found on my own.  For me it was important to find books written by Native Americans,  along with those written by white people.  What follows is a list of some of them, along with a list of  my favorite poets and authors of fiction.  If A People’s History of the United States has peaked your interested, you will find these books invaluable.


All Our Relations by Winona LaDuke

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Custer Died For Your Sins by Vine Deloria

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen

The Memory of Fire Trilogy by Eduardo Galeano

Killing Custer by James Welch

Lasting Echoes: An Oral History of the United States by Joseph Bruchac

The Founders of America by Francis Jennings

Voices of Wounded Knee by William S. E. Colman

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

Authors – Fiction and Poetry

Sherman Alexie

Jimmy Santiago Baca

Louise Erdrich

Joy Harjo

Thomas King

N. Scott Momaday

Simon Ortiz

Eden Robinson

Leslie Marmon Silko

Gerald Vizenor

James Welch

I hope you have a wonderful  Martin Luther King Day.


Filed under Group Read, History

Sweet Heaven When I Die by Jeff Sharlet

Sweet Heaven When I Die by Jeff Sharlet

W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2011

Borrowed from my library.

I first heard of Jeff Sharlet when he published a fine article in Harper’s titled Jesus plus nothing.   Five years later that article morphed into a book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.  I have been a fan ever since.

With the subtitle Faith, Faithlessness and the Country in Between  Sharlet’s newest book is a collection essays that shines a blinding light on how we, as Americans, find, lose and regain faith.  How we sometimes blindly accept faith with nothing more than a song and a bottle of whiskey to guide us.  There is always a song.

Often compared to writers focusing on life in America, from Mark Twain to Joan Didion,  Sharlet searches along the borders where  our culture and our religion meet,  he is willing to look deep into the mix of religion and politics.   Often driven to the edge he finds himself looking over, into the depths of the American heart.

     …We hope when the odds, no matter how good, are still that: odds, chance, a gamble in which the rules may change at any time,  for any reason, with or without our acquiescence.  We hope when we understand that circumstances are beyond our control, when will is not equal to effect, when we are not the subjects of the story but its objects.  Hope isn’t optimistic;  it’s the face of despair.  My grandmother taught me that, not long before she died.  “Despair,” she said, was her favorite word.  “It’s not a bad thing.  It’s a gift.  A recognition.”  It is the opposite of dread.  Perception, not speculation. You accept the facts of your fate rather than reading them as evidence of a judgement or a moral.  Some people might call that quitting.  From page 249.

I find Jeff  Sharlet’s writing fearless, his honesty inspiring and often his words strike my heart.  I read two blogs that he helped start, The Revealer and Killing the Buddha,  regularly.


Filed under Culture, Essays, Religion, Review