A wonderful set of stories to be enjoyed from coast to coast, on sunny California days or chilly New England nights.

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OUR YEAR AT THE FAHM

OR, BLESSED ARE THE CRACKED FOR THEY SHALL LET IN THE LIGHT

You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t prepare her for a New England winter, as Parker learns in her witty memoir.

In a funny and breezy voice (one can guess at the inherent levity based on the subtitle), Parker details her bold move from temperate Northern California to snowy, rural New England following her job loss in the financial disaster of 2008. Parker is disillusioned by Wall Street, skeptical of politicians and searching for new professional direction. In a move spurred by financial desperation and emotional burnout, Parker and her partner, Raj, pack up their three cats and drive cross-country to settle at a farm in Massachusetts owned by Raj’s brother. The beautiful, historic farmhouse desperately needs some loving care, an opportunity that appeals both emotionally and financially to the struggling couple. The plan consists of spending a year at The Fahm, and the travelers arrive in time to enjoy a glorious New England autumn prior to the deep freeze of winter. What follows is a year’s worth of hilarious observations and amusing anecdotes. The Fahm is covered in mouse poop and appears to be a vortex of bad luck, yet Parker adapts beautifully using a combination of wry humor and a full measure of patience. Despite mice and snakes, an old belching furnace, massive snowstorms and floods of biblical proportion, Parker perseveres, all the while documenting her everyday experiences. Initially a series of blog posts, the book holds together well; posts are sprinkled with observations and insightful quotes on topics ranging from politics to economics. Despite a few slow moments, her voice and sense of humor come through loud and clear. Parker’s stories should inspire laughter and groans at the couple’s continuous run of mishaps, yet one cannot help but applaud her strength and perseverance. She is on a journey to find meaning and direction in life, a path that is certainly familiar to many of us.

A wonderful set of stories to be enjoyed from coast to coast, on sunny California days or chilly New England nights.

Pub Date: April 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468150612

Page Count: 180

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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