Going Dark Selected Stories by Dennis Must

Posted October 27, 2016 By Molly

General FictionGoing Dark Selected Stories by Dennis MustReview by Molly

Dennis Must’s Going Dark Selected Stories is a succession of 17 short stories opening with Title tale Going Dark in which an aging actor tells us of his life, or theirs, or ours, who knows; as he offers the address, or name of spouse and children of characters he has played.

Writers may well be supposed to be a congregation of discrete and distinct persons working in harmony to generate something on paper solely from their productive minds; and Writer Must does give the impression to fit that analogy. Dennis Must’s third short story anthology, Going Dark, presents a raconteur a la F. Scott Fitzgerald meditative pretext by transporting the reader into each of the dissimilar accounts be they matter-of-fact or stately, rational or imaginative.

Going Dark, the initial sketch offered presents a mature actor as he reminisces re his life and looks back short of appreciating wholly what is recollected, and what was merely a performance.  The fight to comprehend death and managing skills to accept the state of affairs is the focus for Marine Band.  A couple facing tedium in their marriage look for ways to add a little zing, only to grasp they might have considered and accepted life as it had been.     Writer Must’s writing is expressive, as he approaches the numerous stages of life we all share as we too transfer from childhood to youth, to conceivably consider marriage or other association, and, at the end face the inevitable death that awaits us all.  Lives so unrelated yet very much the same; are the ones brought to life under the pen of this skillful writer.

Dennis Must’s assortment of short accounts, is at once a multilayered thought provoking psychological frolic in addition to being a deeply seated thoughtful work; brimming with anxiety, as distant, unapproachable, self-absorbed characters usually at odds with themselves, others around them, and life in general.

Whatever the overview or leitmotif, each portrayal in this work ultimately goes dark as Must probes deep within the core of his intricate, complex characters. Overall, “the collection becomes a captivating study of the quandary of good, evil, the nature of human identity, and the function of art.”

Various story titles found in this slim volume of 17 short stories includes Marine Band, Boys, Houseguest and Chet Baker Crosses the Allegheny.  The latter relates a series of mishaps in which autos play a key role.

A few of the tales are graced with an illustrations done by Rostislav Spitkovshy; Boys , The Day My  Father Died, The Joining and Dry Bread and Turnip Soup each is embellished with a single page drawing.     A short author bio finishes the work ; Author Must was born and raised in Pennsylvania, attended college and in Pennsylvania. He decided against entering the clergy despite 2 years at Princeton Theological Seminary, he opted instead to attend a playwright’s workshop in Iowa before teaching at various locations in Pittsburgh and New York City.

After a pleasant career spent writing, directing and co-producing his own plays in collaboration with John Hawkins; his final production ended in Greenwich Village 1974.

In addition to writing, Must, has worked as a cabinet maker,  bartender, bell hop, founded a real estate firm, and has worked as a general laborer in a glass factory, steel mill and on a rail line. With is diverse life he is well equipped to write tales of substance on many subjects and flesh them out so that they come alive on the page.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for those who enjoy a bit of the avant garde.

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Coinman an Untold Conspiracy by Pawan Mishra

Posted September 27, 2016 By Molly

General FictionCoinman an Untold Conspiracy by Pawan MishraReview by Molly

Coinman an Untold Conspiracy relates the tale of the protagonist’s unusual habit for jingling coins in his pocket and the unbelievable loathing the action goads in the people around him.

A novel, the inaugural work of the author, Pawan Mishra, Coinman an Untold Conspiracy is set down as a sequence of essays or short stories complete with a Table of Contents outlining 31 chapters in addition a Hindi Word References page.

Commencing with ‘The Cacophonous Plight’ the reader is introduced to narrator, Sesha, explaining how he had come to be entrusted with the relating of Kesar, Coinman’s narrative.  And, it all started with great anticipation.

In the office where Coinman was employed; it was the racket of coins clinking in the pocket that the staff had not quite learned to overlook.  The coins rattled when the man moved, or even as he stood quietly during conversation with his hand fumbling with the coins in his pocket.  The clatter was never-ending.

In time Kesar’s co-workers inaugurated a discrete moving of their desks away from the spot where Coinman and his coins were positioned; such move instigated more than a little disturbance until administration was compelled to intercede.  As the clank continued so did the exasperation felt toward Coinman by his fellow workers.  Over time his co workers stopped using his name and simply denoted to him as Coinman.

As the reader continues rambling through the chronicle the reader will encounter not only members of Coinman’s family, but, Gossipmongers, Tulsi the office temptress and Hukum the office tormenter.  The anecdote continues as Coinman’s administrator has a heart to heart with him about his proclivity for coins.

The anecdote mingles Coinman’s reminiscences of communication with family, schooling, social settings, an arranged marriage, work and day to day living.

On the pages of Coinman an Untold Conspiracy novelist Mishra has fashioned a challenging account communicated as a sequence of short stories.  His shrewdness as a raconteur is keenly honed.

An inimitable, thought provoking paperback about coming of age, determining your distinctiveness and accepting who you are while trying to fit into the expected norm of the social order in which you live Coinman an Untold Conspiracy is a tale written by a writer with a fine grasp of language.  Coinman, the main character in this work, is pretty socially inept, maladroit, obdurate, and, to top it all; has a thing for coins.  The racket they generate as he touches them or just moves around, besides, the way they feel in his hands is very satisfying to him; even though the practice tends to drive those near him to distraction.

On the pages of Coinman an Untold Conspiracy, readers step into the extraordinarily fixated, fervent, and frustrated existence of Coinman.  The banality of archetypal life is explored in depth by writer Mishra who achieves the deed nimbly in a pleasurable, stimulating manner.  Do we actually attempt to comprehend real or apparent peculiarity in others, or are we disposed to to malign, invalidate or cast-off those who do not measure up to our own set of what is good or not so much.

Having never worked in an office (I am a school teacher) I have speculated now and then if hugger-mugger as is depicted in perchance larger-than-life pomposity might actually take place.  I suspect, given laws and practices here in the U.S., open provocative or intimidation in the workplace, is not so likely to transpire.  Maybe such does occur in culture having fewer limitations for ill-treatment of fellow workers.  While novelty is frequently problematic to accomplish for writers; author Pawan Mishra has accomplished an exceptional, fascinating, and, at times entertaining book which also points the reader toward advantageous moral lessons without doing so in a ‘preachy’ manner.

I found Coinman an Untold Conspiracy to be a motivating, well written work certain to intrigue those who relish a non-formula, foreseeable read.

I received a paperback book for review.  Happy to recommend.

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Christmas Musings by Margery Risby Warder

Posted September 27, 2016 By Molly

Poetry Christmas Musings by Margery Risby WarderReview by Molly

Margery Risby Warder’s Christmas Musings, Three Books in One to Warm Your Heart at Christmas is a ‘collection of three shorter books, each of which can be purchased separately.’

Merry Christmas  Christmas in our Hearts inspiration stories & Poems offers readers a Table of Contents  listing the 20 compositions encompassing this specific volume.  Jam-packed with inspiration, and musings from childhood The Chrismas We Peeked into the Attic is a bitter sweet reading bursting with eagerness, expectation realized and some not, all together a well-designed anecdote to set the tome in motion.

Other vignettes consist of At Just the Right Time, Carols Remembered and A Bit of Poetry and Prose.  The author brings home the certainty that all life marches on with a poem entitled Caroling certain to convey a flash of recollection for readers who as a teen may have joined others for the hay ride, or walk around the neighborhood as the youth group assembled at the church building before setting out on the annual singfest in the cold.  “I sang for ‘them’….. and now, all too soon, the carolers come and sing to me.” Filled me with recollections of hot chocolate and the expressions on lined countenances of those for whom we sang, and the rueful smile on mine as I appreciate that today, they indeed sing to me.

Other sketches include Mary’s Ponderings, Immanuel!  Have You Heard, and Listening in on Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve.  There are 20 brief accounts in all spanning 118 pages; verses, text, poignant, thought provoking, and compelling to read.

Last Christmas, commences on page 119 and concludes on page 160.  This moving, tender and lovely anecdote of a young family facing what, on the surface, might seem intolerable; carries a significant message; ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus.’  While enriching and ending on an optimistic note; this specific chronicle is sure to bring a tear or two to the eye.

Mary Meet Dr. Luke, An Evening Visit, transports the reader to a family, living in Jerusalem during the worrisome early days of the Church following the crucifixion of Christ.  Their visitor, Luke, has a narrative to relate of one named Saul who now is called Paul.  This tale is a strong, persuasive read regarding what might have happened, and, perhaps actually may have taken place amongst the initial believers.

Note to reader friends 221 and Margery’s writing career 222 -225 wrap up the tome.

I was delighted to learn each of the three tales is whole, substantial and stand alone.  The single volume brings the three works together nicely for use as a tuck in gift at holiday time, or for keeping as a gift for yourself for reading for pleasure any time during the year, and especially so throughout the holiday season. 

Reading Christmas Musings stimulated old memories, filling my thoughts with contentment and some pathos now that my parents and one sibling are gone, children are grown and while the various writing offerings did cause me many joyful recollections; the book also tended to stirred a little melancholy to even out the joy provoked as I remembered days gathered around the old piano singing hymns, thoughts of Jesus, caroling, pie suppers and church programs, along with the special dishes prepared at Christmas time and anticipated by the whole family while celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Growing up understanding the real meaning of Christmas, along with visits from Santa and Christmas stockings helped shape the lives of many of those who will appreciate reading Christmas Musings.

I found Christmas Musings to be an encouraging, pleasurable, and winning, work meant to help readers relish the special times in their lives and possibly to guide the 20 something readers to ponder launching or continuing some holiday traditions with their own young families.

At times it appears many in our culture have forgotten what Christmas really is all about; these elevating, philosophical and sentimental tales found on the pages of Christmas Musings with keepsake moments focused on family and societal traditions lived during the ‘Happy Days’ period of the mid 1900s help us stop and think how inspirational and what fun Christmas was and continues to be today.

Fine honed, decipherable, authentic writing draws the reader into the stories and poems and offers good sound text to be enjoyed on a cold rainy evening during December, or on a sunny day spent on the porch sipping Tea and reading. 

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. 

I received an ARC from the author for review.

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The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Posted May 15, 2016 By Jandy

Historical FictionThe Whistling Season by Ivan Doig The Whistling Season
Ivan Doig; Harcourt 2007

Paul lives in Montana east of the Rockies with his father and two younger brothers. His mother died a year earlier. Since then their home has been in disarray and their meals have been bland, overcooked, undercooked, or uncooked. When Father sees a newspaper ad “Can’t Cook But Doesn’t Bite”, he decides to contact the woman to come be their housekeeper. She’s a widow, so she must be able to cook better than any of their family can.

Rose responds, but asks for an advance. When she arrives on the train, her brother Morgan unexpectedly arrives with her. They have arranged for Rose to live with a neighboring couple. Fortunately, the couple has an attic where Morrie can bunk. He seems enthused to take on odd jobs. After cutting a cord of wood for an elderly lady, he says “Hard labor – that is strenuous exertion such as cording up wood – was just what I needed to draw me out of dwelling on the recent plights of life.”  Their family’s leather glove business had folded, which was why Rose was job hunting. They are vague on the details of their life back in Minnesota, though.

Paul, Damon, and Toby attend the local one room schoolhouse. Paul is in 7th with one other student. The older 8th grade boys tend to be bullies and side against each other down Slav and Swede ancestry. In a schoolyard fight Paul gets in a lucky punch against Eddie, one of the worst of the older boys. Damon is able to defuse a beating by suggesting the two older boys have a horse riding contest. After a week of children hiding the ride from their parents and teacher, the contest is run. Even after, though, there is tension between the two boys.

Rose takes over the house and brings it back to life. But she stays away from the kitchen. When Father hints about her cooking, she goes on to other tasks that need done, ignoring him. Morrie has some rough starts, but is able to find manual labor in the depressed area. Then he takes over as teacher in the school. Haley’s Comet is due to appear in April, so he focuses on that celestial event to help teach the children science and about the solar system and universe. They even work on a special program to present to the parents.

Despite the lack of cooking, Paul, his brothers, and father soon bond with Rose. Many mornings she and Paul meet in the kitchen before the rest of the house is stirring. No one can replace his mother, but Rose is a good substitute. But do she and Morrie really fit in their Montana farming life? Paul knows there is a mystery in Rose and Morrie’s past. No one in the family tries to get it out of them. Morrie is a good teacher even if this is the first teaching job he has held. Paul keeps holding his breath but Morrie steps around the pitfalls that school children can bring.

Ivan Doig tells the story of The Whistling Season in Paul’s first person narrative, the observations of a 12-year-old boy as he is moving beyond childhood and into the world of adults. It is told from a perspective of nearly 50 years later. Paul is now in charge of the state’s education system and supporting the one room schoolhouses that still cover Montana.

The reader is quickly caught up in the feel of the time and place of The Whistling Season. Doig uses language that is lyrical and expressive yet believable of a 12-year-old. Paul observes his youngest brother Toby in his new hand-me-down hat. “Toby had graduated to Damon’s old but still nice [hat], although it was big on him and he kept running out from under it in his jousts with the dog.” It easy to picture the young boy running with the hat coming off his head – not from the wind but from his own carefree joy.

The Whistling Season is a photo of a long gone time and place brought back to life. Because of the narrator’s perspective, the nuances of adult life are often missed. But all comes out in the end. There is a scene near the end where Morrie sits down with Paul and talks to him as a man. Doig wrote it well, showing the respect Morrie gives the boy and the boy understanding the situation and the attitude from the older man.

Ivan Doig’s The Whistling Season is a realistic slice of American life. It comes from both 100 and 50 years ago as the old ways began to morph into more modern methods of teaching.  It is not a fast paced or action filled read. Instead, the novel draws the reader along to the end. Appreciate the art of Doig’s writing and the sense of time and drama in The Whistling Season

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The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven

Posted May 7, 2016 By Jandy

General FictionThe Mango Bride by Marivi SolivenSenora Concha sends her daughter Amparo into exile to San Francisco for disgracing the Manila society family. Amparo is close to finishing her college degree there. Now she’ll have to find an American community college if she wants to finish it. Her father has died and her distant mother won’t let her stay home.

Beverly’s mother died when she was 15. Ten years later she is still alone with only her aunt, a cook in a wealthy home in Manila. She is a server both for a restaurant and a catering company. She has to take a temporary leave from the catering company after accidentally spilling a drink on a guest. Her mother had promised her a better life. Perhaps there is a way for her through the Filipino Sweethearts dating company.

Amparo has settled into America and is now with a wonderful man, but thoughts of the Philippines stay with her. Her job is as a phone interpreter from Tagalog to English. She visits her uncle, Senora Concha’s brother, who was exiled to American around 30 years earlier. Although she keeps questioning him, he won’t tell her why he had to leave the Philippines.

Beverly has married and now lives in San Francisco in a small home. She and her pharmacist husband have a small daughter. Beverly dreams of herself visiting her aunt in Manila, wanting to show off her little girl.

Amparo and Beverly live within a few blocks of each other. They see each other at the park, then run into each other in the grocery store. When their worlds finally collide, old family secrets are finally learned.

In The Mango Bride, Marivi Soliven draws a lush picture of Manila in the late 1980’s, making it come to life in the high society homes and the crowded, much poorer neighborhoods.

Senora Concha and her contemporaries pity those Filipinos who move to America where no one has servants.  The Senora has never cooked a meal or dusted a shelf in her life. Her three children were raised more by their cook then by herself. She tolerates her cheating husband because she doesn’t want to lose her place in society. She disdains those who are part of the working class in Manila and America.

When Ampora washes their dishes, cares for their home, or works as an interpreter, she dreams about the life she might have had. She still feels exiled and out of place even though she has now lived in America for seven years. At the same time, she is happy with Seamus wants a life with him. Beverly didn’t have a privileged life in Manila, so the American household doesn’t bother her. But the man she wrote love letters to and who came to the Philippines to marry her wasn’t the Prince Charming she imagined. While she doesn’t necessarily want to move back to Manila, she does long to visit with her daughter.

I liked most the descriptions of the Manila and Filipino culture. My biggest complaint about The Mango Bride is that Soliven doesn’t bring in Beverly’s character until about a third of the way into the novel. The book starts dramatically with an unexpected stabbing which leads into Amparo’s story. A major component of the book is the comparison and contrast of Amparo’s and Beverly’s lives in San Francisco.

Marivi Soliven combines numerous themes into The Mango Bride. Soliven winds together societal clashes, immigration, family disgrace, extra marital affairs, wife abuse, family ties, illicit love, and family secrets. She doesn’t dig deeply into any of her themes, yet they all impact the story and give texture to the novel. The characters aren’t real deep, but enough to keep the reader involved.

The Mango Bride illustrates the Filipino culture both in the Philippines and for the immigrants in America. It’s a revealing book.

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

General Fictiontranslated by Alice Menzies

Broken Wheel is barely a speck on the map of Iowa, just outside of a slightly larger town, Hope. Amy Harris lived in Broken Wheel all her life. Now that she’s older, a long time widow, an avid reader, and not in the best of health, she starts a penpal/book discussion with Sara Lindqvist in Haninge, Sweden. After a couple years writing, Amy invites Sara, as much of a bookworm as she, to come visit Broken Wheel.

Sara feels like she knows the town and the people from the older woman’s letters. But when she arrives, things are not like she expects. Jimmie Coogan St. (formally 4th) is barely a street at all. Amy’s nephew, Tom, is withdrawn. Most of the stores are closed up. Amy’s letters had talked about the problems in town with the economy hitting them so hard and so many people moving away. Now Sara sees.

Everyone is friendly, though. They won’t let her pay for anything – rent while she’s at Amy’s house, her food, or her drinks at the Square, the local bar. Finally Sara comes up with a plan. She has plenty of money with her. The bookstore where she worked in Haninge closed, leaving her drifting. While that gave her a few months to visit Broken Wheel, she misses the books.

Sara looks at all the books in Amy’s house and her own books she sent before she arrived. Then she cleans up and paints up Amy’s husband’s shop that has been close since he died. Sara turns it into a bookshop. Hope doesn’t have a bookshop. Neither do any of the small Iowan towns around them. Broken Wheel has something new. Quickly it’s a bright spot in a declining town.

Instead of traditional sections like mysteries, romance, classics, fantasy, etc., Sara names her book shelves with titles like “SEX, VIOLENCE, AND WEAPONS” or “WARNING: UNHAPPY ENDING!” or “SMALL TOWN LIFE” or “SHORT BUT SWEET”. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend belongs under Sara’s label “HAPPY ENDINGS WHEN YOU NEED THEM”.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is Swedish author Katarina Bivald’s first novel. This novel sounds like it was written by an American because of the setting. Bivald captures the dying American rural town and its characters. She could have made it dismal. Instead, she makes it realistic without being depressing.

The reader has to chuckle when the Town Council is excited because they have a Tourist! Before she opens the bookstore, they devise ways to keep Sara in town and busy. Although Sara talks with Amy, the older woman is unable to go anywhere with Sara. Instead the God-fearing older teacher, the housewife with few contemporaries, and the bar’s gay owner gang together to keep Sara busy, happy, and in Broken Wheel.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a love story – the love of books, the love of a town, and the reluctant love of a couple. Bivald twines them together into a charming tale that lends hope in a dreary sounding world.


An extra for book lovers: At the end of the book Bivald lists the titles, authors, and series of the many books mentioned in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.

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The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Posted November 6, 2015 By Jandy

General FictionThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeTranslated by Simon Pare

The Little Paris Bookshop is a wonder – a quiet, poignant, soaring book about reading, love of books, human foibles and emotions, and self discovery. Nina George pays tribute to readers, authors, and the solace and joy books can provide. Read the remainder of this entry »

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

Posted August 23, 2015 By Jandy

Historical FictionThe Last Pilot by Benjamin JohncockAfter World War II Air Force pilot Jim Harrison becomes a test pilot. He tests jets in the Mojave Desert with Chuck Yeager and others as the jets break the sound barrier and keep getting faster and better. Jim and his wife Grace have a run down home there where she waits every time he’s flying. She’s friends with the other wives.

Jim and Grace want children. Unfortunately, Grace has a rare condition that blocks up her uterus. They continue at Muroc, he flying test jets and her worrying at home. He is one of the pilots approached to join the astronaut program. At the same time. Grace discovers she is pregnant – despite all the odds against them. Now the couple is facing major life changes. Jim isn’t chosen as one of the first seven so they stay in the desert and his planes go faster and higher. Their daughter Florence is the bright miracle in their life. Read the remainder of this entry »


General FictionThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2014

Gabrielle Zevin pays homage to books and bibliophiles in her short The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It’s a poignant tale of personal loss, redemption, and strength. The chapters start with book quotes and notes from A.J. to the people in his life.

A.J. Fikry is a recent widower who owns a small bookstore on a New England island. Island Books is the only bookstore on the island, but A.J. doesn’t care too much. It does well enough over the summer when tourists are visiting, but the store doesn’t appeal to the locals. A.J. usually stocks the literature he likes despite popular tastes. A.J. is too busy becoming a despondent alcoholic to care overly much that the store is now failing.

But after a theft of the only rare book he owned, A.J. starts running again. He returns from a run to his bookstore to discover a two-year-old girl alone in the back of the deserted store. There’s a note with Maya. Her mother left her in the bookstore because she wants her daughter to grow up around books. The mother’s body washes up on the shore a couple days later.

Maya is the turning point for A.J. He doesn’t want the adorable little girl to end up in the foster system. He applies for and is able to adopt Maya. He starts to get more local customers as they come to visit the little girl. A.J. has come beyond his depression and learns to stock more books that people request. He finally starts adding children’s books. Some of the local mothers start a book club. Then the police chief, Maya’s godfather, starts a mystery and suspense book club. Island Books grows into a local gathering place.

When Amelia first tries to sell her publisher’s books to Island Books, A.J. rebuffs her and is quite rude. But finally he reads the first book she had pushed on him. He discovers he likes the book. He contacts Amelia to admit she was right. He discovers he needs to talk to her more. He starts ordering more books from her publisher, arranging her visits to the store.Soon A.J. is surrounded by his beloved books and the women who are special to him.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a feel-good book that is enjoyable enough. The story flows quietly, never totally catching the reader up, yet keeping the reader’s attention. It is a love story, but not a romance. There is heartbreak and redemption. Zevin’s  uses connections in this novel with the immediate people (A.J., Amelia, and Maya), the friends and extended family, and the books. There is a quiet core that is solid.

Escape and appreciate the sentimental The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

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Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Posted July 30, 2015 By Jandy

Historical FictionGo Set a Watchman by Harper LeeJean Louise “Scout” Finch is returning home for a two week vacation. She left Maycomb, Alabama, and moved to New York City. But she comes back for vacation every year. She’s met at the train by her old friend Henry who is now her father’s assistant. Atticus Finch is a 70+ year old lawyer and single father who raised Scout and her brother to be good people. Her respect for Atticus is total. Read the remainder of this entry »

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Posted June 7, 2015 By Jandy

Historical FictionOne Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd
Jim Fergus; St. Martin’s Press 1998

Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyenne Indian nation met with President Grant with a proposition for future peace in the United States. The Cheyenne believe that all children belong to the  mother’s tribe. He proposes that the President provide 1,000 white wives to the Cheyenne. All babies born to these women would belong to the white race. Thus the two tribes of peoples would merge peacefully.

Although President Grant refuses initially, the program gets surprising support from women across the country. May Dodd, a Chicago socialite whose father had her locked in an insane asylum, is one of the women in the first group of volunteers for the grand social experiment. They are representing their country by joining with the Cheyenne. May keeps a journal of her travels. Read the remainder of this entry »

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Posted May 17, 2015 By Jandy

The Namesake by Jhumpa LahiriGeneral Fiction The Namesake
Jhumpa Lahiri; Wheeler Pub. 2003

In the late 1960’s, Ashoke Ganguli returned to Calcutta, married Ashima and brought her back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his life at Harvard. Now she is having their first child. Gogol, and later his sister, grow up in Massachusetts as American children.

Their parents, especially Ashima, can’t let go of their culture. Their friends in the United States are all from their homeland. They return every two or three years for vacation in Calcutta visiting family. When he’s young, Gogol keeps his odd name. As he grows older, though, being named for a Russian author is difficult in a world of Johns and Bobs. Ashoke and Ashima raise their children in two cultures – the Indian culture of their families and the American culture where they now live. Read the remainder of this entry »