Battle Dress: “The Girls of Slender Means”

I just read and loved this stiletto book, which I finally picked up after reading Amy Welborn's glowing recommendation. I'll just add a few notes to what she's already said. The Girls of Slender Means is set in a rooming house for single women in the summer of 1945: Its main narrative opens on V-E Day and closes on V-J Day, although it's framed by flash-forwards to a time when most of the girls--but perhaps not all--have gone on to better digs and brighter days.Notable features for me: This … [Read more...]

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For There’s Nothing Original in Me/Except Original Sin: A Birthday Book Meme

I really enjoyed Melinda Selmys's list of the twenty books that have shaped her. It's my birthday (totally unrelated link, you guys) so it seemed like a good time to do my own list. Herein, fifteen books I blame, with commentary.In chronological order; when I can't remember (e.g. the first three books), in order from greatest impact to least. And keeping in mind that we are unknown to ourselves, we knowers, so probably like Carbonel, The King of the Cats should be #1 here, but the only … [Read more...]

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“Who Rents, Who Buys, Who Tells Your Story?”: I review “Little Men”

for First Things: Little Men, the new gentrification drama from writer/director Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange), has a rich premise and two excellent young stars. Its thinness—its inability to satisfy the expectations it sets up—comes from Sachs's unwillingness to explore both sides of the class divide in his double story.Little Men is about the sudden, deep friendship between two thirteen-year-old boys: Jacob (Theo Taplitz), a yearning, driftwood Manhattanite who wants to be an artist, and Ant … [Read more...]

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From Muriel Spark, “The Girls of Slender Means”

This is a terrific opening: Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions. The streets of the cities were lined with buildings in bad repair or in no repair at all, bomb-sites piled with stony rubble, houses like giant teeth in which decay had been drilled out, leaving only the cavity. Some bomb-ripped buildings looked like the ruins of ancient castles until, at a closer view, the wallpapers of various quite normal rooms would be visible, room above room, … [Read more...]

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From Christian Wiman, “My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer”

Abundance and destitution are two facets of the one face of God, and to be spiritually alive in the fullest sense is to recall one when we are standing squarely in the midst of the other. … [Read more...]

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A Long Summer: Movie notes

In the order I saw them. Saving the best for last.Hush: Home-invasion horror centering on a deaf woman. This is very suspenseful--really effective--and I loved that three of the four characters were noticeably, extremely quick-witted and resourceful. Absolutely worth watching if this is the sort of thing you like. Quite bloody. The ending has some degree of ambiguity; I'm choosing the grimmer interpretation because I think the movie has already given you plenty of reasons to consider even … [Read more...]

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Ask Melinda Selmys Your NFP Questions!

Would you like a practical, philosophical, and psychological look at natural family planning from someone for whom it has been at times a grueling and frightening struggle? Someone who understands why you might be bitter and exhausted, who has experienced some of the beauty and promises of NFP but also been harmed by the Pollyannaish or judgmental attitudes with which it's often promoted? You are in luck: Eve Tushnet has been twisting my arm a bit to try to get me to write an NFP book. My basic … [Read more...]

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