Home is Where the People Are: Thoughts on An American Marriage

an american marriage

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

Have you watched Broadchurch, the British crime drama? It’s an enthralling detective series (3 seasons currently on US Netflix, FYI!), and Olivia Colman who plays DS Ellie Miller (or “Millah” if you’re in our household and like to imitate David Tennant, of Dr. Who fame), will portray Queen Elizabeth starting in season 3 of The Crown. (Just providing a little British television family tree for you.) The acting and story lines are superb, but there is just one little niggling thing that I have to mention every single time we watch, much to my husband’s chagrin, I’m sure. My one annoyance: The village of Broadchurch is just like Richard Scarry’s Busytown. Why, look, the entire cast of characters has come out for the trial: the rector, the local newspaper editor, the plumber, the shady character who actually has experienced hard times and is therefore not shady, just guarded. (No candlestick maker yet.) And here they all are again at a footie match on the beach. And the local woman’s birthday party. And the community vigil. Meanwhile, Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm help mummy with the snacks. Wait a minute… Continue reading

Back Off: On Success, College & The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

female persuasion

The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer

The NPR podcast “Raising a Human” just released an episode called “The Perils of Pushing Too Hard, And How Parents Can Learn to Back Off.” So basically, if you’re a parent, you dropped everything and read/listened when it crossed your path even though you may have your own already-developed thoughts on the issue. (Yup, I do.) Why? Because a trend piece like this complements more than a few hot topics circulating the contemporary parenting world:  a recent New York Times front-page piece about suicides at colleges and universities, the brouhaha over standardized testing (or more specifically, “teaching to the test”), and the lengths students (parents?) go to obtain perfectly perfect test scores in order to (maybe) gain admission to a tiny group of “select” third-level institutions. Notice a pattern? In America, privileged parents are almost universally focused on college and how our children will fare once they’re there.

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You’re So Plain: On the Landscapes that Shape Us

the plains

The Plains by Gerald Murnane

What comprises “home”? How are we shaped by our communities? More importantly: Is there really no mountain high enough? This blog post isn’t really an essay with a nice conclusion. Rather, reading The Plains by Gerald Murnane has caused me to ruminate “out loud” on a topic that I’ve circled ever since I started this blog – and for certain, a topic that has lodged itself in my mind ever since I was a little girl, lying on our family room floor, feet propped up against our hearth, watching the light on the floor as it dodged in between clouds.

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It’s Not That Difficult: On Oprah and Her Book Club Picks

behold the dreamers

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue

Remember when James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces became a bestseller? No? How about when a guy went on Oprah in 2006 to defend a book that was originally touted as a memoir but later discovered to include multiple fabrications and embellishments? Yup, you totally remember that. Tuning in to watch Oprah ask a sniveling writer if he had blatantly lied to her was good television!

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Did I Tell You I’m a Good Mom? Thoughts on Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich

There’s a line of thinking that goes like this: “Westerners (Americans in particular?) are spoiled. Mothers obsess over sugar, self-esteem, and screen time. Meanwhile, there are mothers across the globe (and in America too) who are physically scrambling day in and day out to feed their children and give them an opportunity to actually survive.” In other words, “Hey, privileged people: Get a real problem.”

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