Carin Pratt moved to Strafford, Vermont, three years ago from Washington D.C. where she worked at CBS News for 27 years, the last 20 as Executive Producer of Face the Nation. Her husband, John Echeverria, is a professor at Vermont Law School, and she has two grown sons. She likes to hike, cook, garden, bike, horseback ride. She reads a lot.
With my baseball team so mired in the cellar it can't see the light at the top of the stairs, I was in search of a baseball book to help get me through the dog days. The Grind is that book. Washington Post sportswriter Barry Svrluga concentrates on the daily "grind" of the long baseball season, and how it affects starters and relievers, equipment managers, wives, minor league players and more. He covers the The Washington Nationals and uses members of that team as his examples. It's an unusual, intimate, and fascinating look at the innards of baseball.
Talk about ripped from the headlines... Don Winslow's epic Cartel is an engrossing novel about the Mexican drug trade based on the actual drug lord who tunnelled free from prison this past July. The spine of the book is the feud between DEA agent Art Keller and the drug lord Adan Barrera; the ribs are the collateral damage to Mexican civilization, it's art, and way of life, and people. Note: The Mexican drug wars are fairly known for merciless brutality and evil. This book leaves nothing to the imagination.
Best-selling author of The Paris Architect, Belfoure turns his attention in House of Thieves to 19th Century New York City. The son of a society architect rings up a tidy chunk of gambling debts. To save his son's life, the architect is pressed into service by a notorious gang of thieves to reveal fancy house layouts, entrances/exits and whereabouts of valuables in order to facilitate the gangs' thievery. To complicate matters, the architect's brother is a Pinkerton agent investigating the robberies. While the story borders on the preposterous, there's something addictive about it and the many period and societal (not to mention architectural) details.
Few relationships are as fraught as that between a woman and her hair. Show me a woman who hasn't had a bad hair day and I'll show you a ... fabulist. In 27 essays in this amusing and often moving book, a variety of women write about how they hate/love, want to change/keep, color/perm, cut/grow, perm/straighten ... well, you get the point ... their hair. At the very least, give this book to your hairdresser (after you read it, of course), because if you've got a good one, you owe her/him.
So far I've made eight of these recipes and haven't hit a clunker yet! Some, if you like to cook, may be familiar -- Jim Lahey's no-knead bread, Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce, Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu, Paule Caillat's brown butter tart crust -- but it's great to have them all -- and many more -- in one book. A keeper!
In May of 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed the luxury ocean liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, killing almost 1200 people. Dead Wake is Erik Larson's strangely suspenseful (in that we know what happened) story of that catastrophe. By interweaving tales of specific passengers, along with depictions of what was happening on the attacking U-boat, and the tracking of the U-boat by a secret British intelligence unit, Larson brings this horrific incident, which helped push the U.S. into WW1, to life.
Playwright Tennessee Williams turned the horrible dross of a dysfunctional family and sexual repression (and its rampant expression) into theater gold. With plays like Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof he transformed the face (and body) of American theater. Shortlisted for the National Book Award, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is a hugely readable woven tapestry of Williams' life, loves and art. Lahr draws from letters, diaries, interviews and the plays themselves to depict Williams' genius, and his ineluctable loneliness.
Ann Packer knows her family dynamics, and all her literary and psychological skills are evident in this complex and moving portrait of a Northern California family of six headed by a saintly doctor father and a distant disaffected artsy mother. The looming question underlying the story, which is told clearly and cleverly from varying points of views, is how our childhoods and sibling and parental relationships impact our grown-up lives. Turns out, a lot.
Jill Loevy is a crime reporter for the L.A. Times. Ghettoside is about the underreported and devastating epidemic of black on black homicide in the U.S., especially in cities. In clear and urgent language Loevy looks at this issue through the prism of one case, the drive-by killing of a homicide detective's son in L.A. Part police procedural, part explication of a grim and present phenomenon not limited to L.A., this is a timely and necessary book.
In 1932, T.H. White, the writer of the splendid Once and Future King, attempted to train a goshawk, one of the fiercest of all hawks. What resulted was a titanic battle of wills, as anyone who has ever tried to train a truculent two-year old, a puppy, a spouse, or oneself, can recognize. This book is "about the efforts of a second-rate philosopher who lived alone in a wood, being tired of most humans in any case, to train a person who was not human, but a bird." It is, in all ways, a marvel. (The book is also a boon companion to Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk, which discusses it at some length.)