The collected essays/blog posts of a retired journalist, reflecting upon America and its quirks, foibles, and disasters.
Debut author Karey presents readers a mixed bag of essays from his titular blog. It begins with the emigration of his Jewish grandmother from Russian-controlled Polish territory to the United States about a century ago and concludes with his reflections on recent events, such as what he sees as oil companies’ degradation of the American environment. In between, he tackles a motley assortment of subjects, including travel, sports, politics, global warming, singing cowboys, religion, and guns. He attacks the National Rifle Association and America’s culture of gun violence, scolds conservative icons such as political commentator Bill O’Reilly and former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, and takes stands for Israel and against anti-Semitism. The collection also includes essays on nonpolitical aspects of American culture interspersed with photos showing members of Karey’s family and their friends as well as ephemera, such as a threatening letter the author’s father received from the U.S. government during the anti-communism hysteria of the early 1950s. He winds up the book with a baker’s dozen of miscellaneous essays dealing with everything from the month of November to apples, rabbits, French actor Gérard Depardieu, and Russia. The author is at his best when he uses easygoing humor to examine the unsung, the overlooked, and the obscure, such as a baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals who got only one at-bat in the major leagues and struck out. Some of Karey’s analytical journalism is powerful and on-target, too, such as his attack on the former chief executive officer of British Petroleum, John Browne, who he says was responsible for his company’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But Karey’s takes on many other issues aren’t particularly enlightening, such as his characterizations of O’Reilly as a “blowhard,” for instance, and Bachmann as “a dark stain on the body politic.” Although he doesn’t include the dates of his blog posts, it’s clear that many have since gone stale; few readers may care about the fiscal cliff, for instance. Such are the perils of blogs, which, in their way, are even more ephemeral than print journalism. Still, Karey writes well enough, and his heart’s in the right place.
Many readers will find something to like in this grab bag but also much to skim or pass over.