My friend and also-avid reader Alix Clyburn suggested this book to me recently. Thank you Alix!!!
Say Nothing A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday, 2019, 348 pages of text but 441 pages including notes and index) is amazing nonfiction that reads like fiction. It tells the intricate story of the last 50 years of the conflict in Northern Ireland also known as the Troubles. Keefe explains the Troubles in a way that is informative and not boring at all.
The book is built around the 1972 disappearance of Jean McConville, a Belfast widow and mother of 10 children. In an interweaving fashion, Keefe introduces us to all of the key figures in the era on both sides of the conflict. We meet Brendan “Darkie” Hughes, Dolours Price and her sister Marian, Frank Kitson, and of course Gerry Adams.
Keefe explains how Gerry Adams transitioned from the ruthless leader of the IRA to the smooth politician who brokered peace. I recall the bomb killing Mountbatten and the hunger strikers… do you remember Bobby Sands? Gerry Adams… I’m going to need a lot of time to ponder and learn more about him. He goes from Mr Head Honcho of the IRA to I Was Never In the IRA in about 5 minutes flat. Though I must admit I can empathize a bit with his motivations…
So what happened to Jean McConville? Although the reader can assume her fate, the excellent story telling has us hanging on through the 350 pages. The ending is satisfying though unsettling…because…Brexit?
In any case, I learned A TON from this book. I feel like I much better understand the Troubles & what has happened in the last 50 years. I highly recommend this book, you are welcome to borrow my copy!
Is Andrew Yang’s name familiar to you yet? If it isn’t it will be soon. He is in the large field of Democratic presidential hopefuls for 2020. I just finished his book titled The War On Normal People (2018, 244 pages) which presents his proposal for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and human-based capitalism for our country.
It’s worth a read- it’s fast, compelling, and provides an alternate view of what the United States can look like in future years.
The first 1/3 describes his own experience as the child of immigrants and a successful entrepreneur whose focus was creating jobs. He is convinced we are in the beginning of huge economic and technologic change that has already eradicated millions of manufacturing jobs (it’s not the migrants or China, Donald!). Retail jobs are soon to disappear (how many places have self-check out now?), followed by truck driving jobs (driverless trucks are being tested), and then even white-collar jobs (computers can read radiology reports with greater precision than the human eye).
The second third describes what is happening to our society as the economy changes. We have “bubbles” in several areas in which there is thriving economy and society, but we have scarcity and poverty in cities where the manufacturing jobs have already disappeared. This part is depressing because if all the jobs are going as Yang predicts, then it’s easy to fear that our whole country will end up like Youngstown Ohio.
But don’t worry – there’s the final third which is much more optimistic and lays out Yang’s vision for our future. The bottom line need is that we need to shift from market-focused capitalism, which only values efficiency, to human-based capitalism, which values people, relationships and society.
A few of Yang’s ideas- he goes into more depth of course in the book:
The UBI would apply to every adult in our country and would take the strain off of regions that lose jobs as workers are displaced by automation.
People would earn credits for helping others that they could use for buying things or to pay others to help them.
The healthcare system needs to be re-vamped and should not be tied to employment.
If you don’t think these things can work please give the book a try – Yang presents studies and statistics that support his hypotheses. Happy to lend you our copy (Greg got it as a Christmas gift!)!
James Baldwin is an author I’m not very familiar with. Last year I read Giovanni’s Room and enjoyed it but it didn’t “grab”me. Recently I noticed If Beale Street Could Talk at the local book store…I knew Regina King had won an Oscar for her role in the movie. Everyone knows books are better than movies, so I figured I’d go with the book.
Wow. What a book. And now I need to see the movie!
Set in the 1960’s, Beale Street is told from the perspective of Tish, a young African American girl whose fiancé Fonny is imprisoned. Tish also happens to be pregnant with their child. The story is not told in a linear fashion but it flows nicely and it is easy to follow. Maybe you’ve seen the movie & so I don’t need to re-hash it for you…. but here is what I liked about the book:
This is a beautiful love story. Tish and Fonny have been friends since childhood and have loved each other always. Baldwin presents it beautifully.
The story is set in New York City -the young couple grew up in Harlem with their families. 21 year old Fonny has found a “pad” in Greenwich Village in which he is sculpting. He and Tish consummate their love here, they hang out here, and he and Tish have found a loft in which they hope to move to. The city is a huge part of the story.
I am in awe of the love and support that Tish has from her parents and sister. Fonny’s mom and sisters are tougher nuts, but Fonny’s dad and Tish’s family support the two kids as they deal with Fonny’s incarceration and Tish’s pregnancy.
This was published in 1974 but is just as timely today as it was then. Especially pertaining to unjust incarceration of black men.
Please let me know if you’ve happen to have both read the book and seen the movie…ALSO please let me know if you’ve ever seen a movie that is better than the book it’s based upon!
So I never watched the movie ET until just a few years ago when we watched it with our kids. I guess because I was a teenager when it came out and was too cool (not really). I’ve also never seen the Princess Bride, a situation which I know needs to be rectified.
Likewise there are several books that I should have read by now that for some reason I just haven’t. So I’m adding a few of these to my to-read list for this year.
The Hobbit – Yup, have never read. I think it’s my brother Tim’s favorite all-time book. Neither have I read The Fellowship of the Ring. I haven’t seen any of the Peter Jackson movies, and so I’m really at a loss when the NYT crossword clue concerns a Tolkien character! So I’m putting The Hobbit on the list for this year & if I dig it I’ll add The Fellowship of the Ring for this or next year.
Anne of Green Gables – On the favorites list of many friends. How did I get to be a middle-aged woman without reading this book? On the list for 2019! Speaking of this – I recently (few years) only read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett… I found and borrowed it from the Marshall School library when I was shelving books there. I don’t know how I missed that because I adored The Little Princess and read it many times.
The Harry Potter series – I’ve only read The Philosopher’s Stone.… I guess I should re-read that and move on to The Chamber of Secrets through The Deathly Hallows? That should keep me occupied for a while. We have all the books in the house but honestly I think my kids have watched the movies but not read all the books. How/why my kids are not more avid readers is a topic for another day.
Books I read in high school that I count as having read but really shouldn’t because I don’t remember them at all: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment, Lord Jim…. I’ll re-read these at some point but not sure it will be this year. I’m assuming I’ll enjoy them a ton more than I did junior year at Verona High School. (Sorry Ken Luks!)
Do you have a list of books you wish you had read by now? Please share in the comments or drop me an email!!
Darnell Moore came to our book group discussion – No Ashes in the Fire.
I wrote recently about how I loved No Ashes in the Fire by Black LGBTQ activist Darnell Moore. Yesterday I was able to break away from usual Saturday activities (which included 4 hoops games and two birthdays including my oldest son’s) to join other members of the SOMA Justice book club in a special event. We got to meet Mr. Moore and hear him speak about his life and his experience writing his memoirs.
How to describe the experience? Simply, love.
Love is the central theme and feeling that Mr. Moore conveys in both his writing and his speaking. He describes the love his mother and family has shown for him as Radical Black Love. He was loved intensely for himself, as an LGBTQ individual, even before he was able to love himself and admit to his family that he is LGBTQ.
He also spoke about his relationship with his father and his friendships with other black students while he was at Seton Hall. It was clear though that his mother’s love and acceptance allowed him to love himself and to stop punishing himself for his perceived sin of being LGBTQ.
Hearing him speak was to feel his love, it was a truly moving experience.
Compelling memoir about LGBTQ Black activist Darnell Moore.
I just devoured Darnell L. Moore’s memoir No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America (2018, 256 pages) and highly recommend it for several reasons.
Love – I love the love described throughout the book. Moore is not always aware of the love of others and needs to learn how to accept it. His path to awareness and acceptance is the central theme of the book. Self love, black love, parental love, family love, love between friends, romantic love, label-defying love – all of these are examined in beautiful writing. I especially adored his relationship with his mom – though you’ll have to read the book to get to my favorite scene between them.
Education/awareness – Moore writes extensively of his childhood and adolescence in Camden NJ. Camden is generally known as a blighted city but now I’ll look at it much differently. Moore describes the city with love and describes how the neglect of elected officials lead to its decline.
SOMA Justice chose this book for its February book club and Darnell Moore will be attending the discussion next week…PM me for more information!
Black Lives Matter – As a white woman, the book gave me tremendous insight about growing up as black boy in our white-centered world. Worthwhile reading for anybody seeking to understand where other people are coming from. The epilogue also describes how Moore helped organized Ferguson MO rallies after Michael Brown’s murder.
BOTTOM LINE – Fast, worthwhile read. I read it on my Kindle App so don’t have to lend.