Vivid testimony to the depth and breadth of suffering during this uniquely stressful time.

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WRITING THE VIRUS

Writers bear witness to the pandemic.

Scrima and Winner, editors of the online literary journal StatORec, invited 32 writers to contribute to a special Corona Issue responding to the experience and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The result is a diverse, often intimate collection of stories, essays, poems, novel excerpts, and flash fiction that serves, according to Winner, “as a record and reminder of a very strange period in all our lives.” Writers consider lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, loss, and grief. Some examine social and political effects, including mass protests incited by George Floyd’s death, and the polarization that continues to afflict public life. Writes Winner, “long-standing evils get activated—racial violence in the United States, fascist sentiments in Germany, mistreatment of the indigenous in the Brazilian rainforest—while commonly-held conspiracy theories grow more and more outlandish.” Readers will likely recognize themselves in many pieces. “When you drop the bravado of This Is The Opportunity To Work On Myself And Grow As A Person To Heal And Create A New World,” writes novelist and actor Joan Juliet Buck, “everything suddenly weighs tons: feet, arms, head, the air, the day, the time.” English professor Joan Marcus admits feeling “dull, half-awake, beaten by tweet storms and the pulse of electronic info that scours my brain.” For musical theater writer Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, who left New York for a rental on the Maine shore, “the future extends as far as what to make for dinner.” Some pieces reflect singular perspectives: Physician Christine Henneberg, an abortion provider, is certain that the pandemic has caused her patients to feel more pain during the procedure. Barbara Fischkin, whose autistic adult son lives in a group home, recounts intense frustration over not being able to care for him when he was diagnosed with the virus.

Vivid testimony to the depth and breadth of suffering during this uniquely stressful time.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944853-77-8

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Outpost19

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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