On a May day, 70 years ago, World War II ended in Europe. Myriad books have been written, among the best “The Liberation Trilogy” by Rick Atkinson, which take us across Africa to Tunisia, into Sicily, through Italy and on to the Normandy beaches and Berlin. Atkinson clearly details the strategies, the tactics, the battles, but his gift lies in humanizing those who participated, those who were there. (The trilogy’s titles are “An Army at Dawn,” “The Day of Battle” and “The Guns at Last Light.”) (more…)
April Fools’ Day was a while back so I’m writing about April Foolishness. If you find anything serious in this, call the authorities.
Blond guy answers the phone, listens and says, “It certainly is” and hangs up. Seconds later the same thing happens: “It certainly is,” he says again. After the third time his wife asks what’s going on. He says, “Someone keeps saying, ‘It’s a long distance from Seattle.’ ” (more…)
Just missed St. Patrick’s Day but I’m doing Irish stuff anyway. Before I continue you should know I’m going nowhere near Joyce’s “Ulysses,” which I keep in cold storage alongside “Beowulf.” (more…)
January has disappeared around the corner, taking with it the shreds of hundreds, maybe thousands, of New Year’s resolutions. I think any resolution that lasted, say, 13 days, was successful — that’s 13 days fewer of some persistent, distressing habit. (more…)
2015! I’m doing quickie overviews of the dozen books the Southold library book club read in 2014 — neither recommending nor dismissing, just personal impressions and conclusions. (more…)
Christmas is next week, a holy and joyful day filled with memories of the past and dreams for the future. An early memory for me is midnight Mass in the convent on the corner of University Avenue and the Washington Bridge — long gone, replaced by public housing. It was a magical service, highlighted by the cloistered nuns, hidden from sight, chanting and singing in their high-pitched voices. I’m not going to dwell on religion, though, mine or yours. Joy is the theme, and the laughter that joy can bring.
It’s said that you can’t judge books by their covers, and you certainly can’t judge them by the four-color, over-the-top advertisements in various Sunday papers. Also, I’ve stopped paying attention to reviews by literary critics who could probably find levels of pseudo-psychology and Freudian innuendo in “See Dick Run and Jump.” So what’s left? (more…)
There aren’t many books you can buy in three different weights — the 100-pound version, the 30-pounder or the three-pound bantam weight — but the Oxford English Dictionary would be one. The 10-volume set requires a sturdy bookcase; the two-volume (four photographically reduced pages to a page complete with magnifying glass) is handier; and the entire immense work, on several CDs, would slip right into a knapsack. (more…)
Baseball season is coming to a close and football is now upon us. I’ve done columns about baseball books — the classics, like Malamud’s “The Natural,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Wait Till Next Year,” “Summer of ’49” (David Halberstam), “Bang the Drum Slowly” (Mark Harris). There are lots to choose from, but football books? Not all that many, although … (more…)
Credit: Ashley Pinciaro
I’d forgotten the name of a character in a book and went to Wikipedia. I found what I wanted, but was struck by how easy it is to find not only a name, but five paragraphs that tell the entire story — how it began, what happened along the way and how it ended. (more…)