“[A]s adults, we have come to see that her autobiographical novels were not only fictionalized but brilliantly edited, in a profound act of American myth-making and self-transformation.”
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is the fascinating and sometimes frustrating biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and, in almost equal measure, her daughter, Rose Lane Wilder. Written by Caroline Fraser, editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, it is meticulously researched.
“There are certain words that draw back, that refuse to be uttered, because they are too laden with significance for our word-weary ears.”
Every once in a while, you read a book that stirs your imagination long after you read the last line. Skylight by José Saramago, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of those books. The story is not complicated; in fact, the plot is rather weak. It is, instead, a series of intricate character studies. The nuanced portrayals of ordinary people engaged in mundane tasks—such as darning socks or sewing buttonholes into a shirt—is breathtaking.
“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”
The books we hold dear shape and define us. They provide us with different perspectives and put events in our lives into a larger context. Some books are like acquaintances, and the moments we share add an almost imperceptible layer to who we are. Other books are dear friends we visit time and time again. These books shape us in a deeper and more sustained way. Still other books are great social engineers, introducing us to people whose response to the book was similar to or vastly different from our own.
"Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life."
These days, the dust of everyday life accumulates quickly. Hatred, bigotry, racism and misogyny are no longer lurking in the shadows but are on public display, buoyed by an administration that has embraced the ideology of white supremacy.
To counteract the negative effect of this constant bombardment, my friend Anulfo Baez launched the #museumswithanulfo project. Each week, he visits a museum with a friend to talk about art, life and how to move forward.
I love good writing, especially when it focuses on New England's food, art and culture. So when I first heard about Take Magazine, and flipped through its glossy, well-designed pages, I fell hard and fast. The publication is beautifully done. The photography is breathtaking and the writing is superb.
But they don't deserve my patronage.
I grew up playing with frogs, chasing after salamanders, building hay forts and riding on the tractor with my grandfather as we collected sap to make maple syrup. I wore dungarees, played sports and knew how to clean the scales off a freshly caught fish. I could throw a bale of hay almost as far as my cousin. And I understood the entire process whereby the cute baby farm animals would become ingredients for my dinner.
In short, I was a tomboy.
As a content writer for business executives and B2B professional services firms, I never thought I'd be writing about Weird Al Yankovic. I grew up with Weird Al. My cousin introduced me to Dr. Demento when I was just a little bit of a thing. And Dr. Demento introduced me to Weird Al. Another One Rides the Bus, a parody of Queen's hit, Another One Bites the Dust, was an important part of my musical education. It was immediate and relevant and it added to the mystique of riding the bus to school.
On January 3, the American Dialect Society announced 'because' as the 2013 Word of the Year. In a statement issued earlier this week, the Society acknowledged that 'because' is increasingly used to introduce a noun or adjective rather than a full clause. In other words, the American Dialect Society is putting its stamp of approval on phrases such as 'because boundaries' or 'because awesome!'
"We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write."