Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category
Before Ann Patchett achieved fame as a novelist, she honed her writing skills as a contributor to Seventeen, where she worked for eight years. She also wrote articles for such publications as Elle, Vogue, Gourmet, and the New York Times Magazine. These free-lance jobs paid Ann’s bills and taught her self-discipline, flexibility, and humility. THIS IS A STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE is a compilation of Ann Patchett’s most memorable essays.
All of Patchett’s pieces are nicely done, but some are particularly meaningful.
Dubravka Ugresic’s new collection of cultural essays deal, primarily, with “Nostalgia,” the title of her first piece.
Ms. Ugresice is a Croatian, formally a Yugoslavian, who now lives in Amsterdam.
Her essays delve into politics, history, popular US, Yugoslavian and European culture from the 1950’s to the 21st century, as well as her own thoughts and flights of fancy. She is branded a “Yugonostalgnic,” by many of her fellow countrymen and women. This is a derogatory term, a synonym for those who long for the days of the Yugoslavia of yore under the reign of Tito; dinosaurs who look back fondly to the slogan “brotherhood and unity.”
Julian Barnes’ memoir of grief for the death of his wife Pat Kavanagh in 2008 after a thirty-year relationship, must be one of the most moving tributes ever paid to a loved one, but also the most oblique. So let’s start with something simple, a photograph. Look up the title in the Daily Mail of London, partly for the marvelously-titled review “Lifted by Love, Grounded by Grief” by Craig Brown, but mostly for the photograph that accompanies it. Julian is seated. Pat stands behind him, her arms around his shoulders, her chin resting on the crown of his head. Her love is obvious, she whom Barnes refers to as “The heart of my life; the life of my heart.” But equally striking is the unusual vertical composition. Pat, who on the ground was a small woman beside the gangling Barnes, here appears above him, like a guardian angel reaching down.
ELIZABETH OF YORK: A TUDOR QUEEN AND HER WORLD is not historical fiction, rather a work of history researched and well written by Alison Weir. Here she documents the life of an English Queen Elizabeth – not as well known as Elizabeth I, “The Fairy Queen,” nor Elizabeth II, England’s modern day monarch. Our protagonist is Elizabeth of York, whose obscurity belies the high profile of her connections.
It was probably just a coincidence that we put up our holiday lights today. The setting up of the twinkling bulbs is probably as much of an annual tradition as its other unfortunate side-effect: practically every year, we discover some strands that just donâ€™t work. Now imagine the same scene being played out in every American household. Thatâ€™s a lot of unwanted strands of Christmas lights. As it happens bales upon bales of these get exported to China, where workers set upon them stripping the wires free of insulation to get at the copper that is one of the most valuable raw commodities a booming China needs. The demand for raw goods — copper, steel, aluminum — in rapidly growing countries like China is fueling a global demand for all kinds of scrap be it metal, plastic and even rags (white rags can be turned into paper).
“This is not a book about the great Austrian physicist, Ludwig Boltzmann, nor, despite its importance in my life, is it about Antarctica. It is more about time and chance and the images and dreams we bring with us from childhood which shape who we are and what we become. It is about science and atoms and starry nights and what we think we remember, though we have made it up.”