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Tag: family

Review: Tara Westover’s “Educated”

As the son of two parents with postgraduate degrees, the purpose and value of education were central to my upbringing. My folks never pushed me, but they always encouraged my intellectual growth and facilitated my desire to attend college with eager ease. I always knew I was lucky (they wouldn’t let me forget it), but [...]

Erik Hall: A Remembrance

Most people, if they are lucky, grow up with one family. I had two. The first was my traditional, biological family. My parents were both black sheep––one estranged for religious reasons and the other for sociopolitical ones––so these relationships were complex and fraught. Growing up, I spent comparatively little time with my “real” relatives, and [...]

Review: Terrence Real’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”

Hey! Listen up. Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside. ––Toni Morrison This passage from Beloved sums up the central message of Terrence Real’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It with uncanny [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Blood Heir”

Ilona Andrews’s Blood Heir is a continuation/spin-off of the marvelous Kate Daniels series. These novels take place in a fantastical version of mid-21st-century Atlanta where a metaphysical “Shift” has brought magic back into the world after centuries of dormancy. This book picks up eight years after Kate’s tale comes to a close, with a new protagonist: Julie [...]

Review: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”

I first read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov about a decade ago, and shortly thereafter forgot almost everything about it. Upon revisiting this long and strange book, the reasons I found it so forgettable are more obvious, as are the fine qualities that make it an indisputable classic. This story of three brothers––of their flaws, torments, and moments [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: September 18th, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. It’s still dark out as I type these words, but a few minutes ago I heard a sound I’ve been longing for since June: raindrops pattering on the roof above my head. It’s probably just a momentary shower, but it’s the first earnest [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of the Lost Child”

There can be no doubt that Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels comprise one of the great literary masterpieces of the early 21st century. Even so, the end of this series left me numb, enervated to the point of apathy. It’s hard to tell if my reaction is the aberrant result of a desolate narrative’s collision with the very [...]

Review: Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”

If I could trade the fictional world of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the real one, I’d seriously consider it. This tale of familial bonding and kind neighborliness will warm even the coldest heart. Set in New England during and after the American Civil War, the novel charts the adolescence and early adulthood of the four March [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: May 2nd, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. Since I know a few of my readers will be eager for news, I’ll start today with a quick update on Charlie’s situation. (For background, please see last week’s journal.) I’m pleased to report that Charlie and his partner arrived in Humboldt after [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: Interview with Terry Raymer

Hey everyone and hope you’re staying safe out there! Today I’ve got a special edition of my “Notes From a Pandemic” series to share with you. It’s an interview with my father, Terry Raymer. Terry is a diabetes specialist who has worked in the Humboldt medical community for about the last three decades, with the [...]