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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

Richard Bausch: IMG Why Literature Can Save Us



Our title is, of course, a problem. "Why Literature Can Save Us." And of course the problem is one of definition: what those words mean. What is... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

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Customer Comments

P Sweeney Tacoma has commented on (3) products.

Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution

P Sweeney Tacoma, January 1, 2013

This is an enlightening work, for scientists & laypeople alike! It's hard to imagine the amount of research that was necessary to prepare these summaries of the work of twelve of Darwin's predecessors, beginning with Aristotle & ending with Alfred Russel Wallace. In addition, Rebecca Stott has conveyed the milieu in which these scientists worked, & the events against which their announcement of their discoveries played out--in some cases, like that of Robert Chambers, who wisely published his Vestiges of Creation anonymously, having to endure a great deal of vituperation from critics, especially members of the clergy. One comes away with a great deal of respect for these brave men, whose lives (professional & personal) were sometimes ruined by their insistence on the fact of the evolution of species, even when they could not discern the mechanism behind these changes.

One also comes away with an increased respect for the genius of Charles Darwin, who somehow was able to discern the role of adaptation in natural selection a century before the discoveries of modern genetic science. A book like this helps bring more readers closer to an understanding of Darwin's theory & the roots from which it sprang. In addition, it is written in a lively, readable style. Even the footnotes are fascinating!
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Let Me Finish by Roger Angell
Let Me Finish

P Sweeney Tacoma, August 4, 2012

Readers of the New Yorker are familiar with Roger Angell's writings from way back. Born in 1921, he has been a contributor and editor for more than 50 years. He's probably most famous for his articles on baseball and for the holiday poem, "Greetings, Friends," that he composed in rhyming couplets that mentioned the names of dozens of current celebrities, cleverly interlaced. And he is also famous as the son of Katharine Angell White & stepson of E.B. White, though he does not presume on the connection.

In this collection of essays, Roger has a lot to say to us about his many interests, friends, big-name acquaintances (Emily Hahn, V.S. Pritchett, A.J. Liebling), fellow-workers at the New Yorker, and relatives who did things as reckless as Aunt Elsie (attempting to out-talk Willa Cather about their respective works) or a great-grandfather who was garrotted in Fresno while trying to start a grape farm.

More important, he is an excellent writer with an extraordinary eye for detail and a gift for making every phrase tell. "I. . watched the soft globes of her headlights grow more distinct as she wheeled up quickly, the tires whispering on the wet road. She was wearing red duck pants and an oilskin top, its hood back behind her neck, and when she got out we looked at each other like conspirators." This, in a chapter called "Getting There" about a young man coming of age as he fumbles through various misadventures such as losing a woman's engagement ring (not his gift) on a golf course in the rain.

At a point in life where the pillars of my universe are crumbling all around me, Roger Angell still stands! I love his title, as all us old folks will. Yes, "Let Me Finish"! Pay attention! Some important things still need to be said!

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The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

P Sweeney Tacoma, January 4, 2012

Siddhartha Mukherjee has that rare combination of traits: empathy, compassion, deep medical knowledge, fine communication skills, and, most impressive, humility in the face of much that is still unknown about cancer, its treatment, and the psychology of patients. The latter is particularly important as he details case histories requiring a great amount of courage by patients enduring the treatments, which (as the patient has been warned) may at the very best only BUY TIME. He is far from objective in evaluating developments like the recourse to radical mastectomy which crippled so many women physically (and unnecessarily). When he sees light dawning on the horizon, his prose fairly gallops as he runs to embrace it!

As a cancer patient, this book helped me put my own situation in perspective.

Best of all, Emperor of All Maladies kept me riveted, like a good suspense novel. It's fine for reading in bed when the reader is fatigued by cancer treatment and yearning for conversation with an understanding friend.
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