What would our world look like if the Beatles had never existed?
That’s the question the movie Yesterday (2019) promises to explore; and I think we can all agree, it’s a fascinating one. By the end of the movie, though, this promise falls flat, when the film’s answer to “what would the world look like without the Beatles?” turns out to be, “basically… the same?”
Allow me to explain.
“You can hear a miracle a long way after dark.”
So begins my favorite book by my favorite fantasy author, Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints. Call me biased, but I believe it’s a flawless opening line.
Halloween is a time for hauntings.
This month, we dig out our favorite scary movies to watch, transfixed, as angry mummies, homicidal circus clowns, demonic babies, psychotic dolls, and their ilk chase our intrepid herores all over God’s green earth. It’s no fun, being stalked by a supernatural Super-Freak. But you know what’s even worse? Being stalked by your own memories.
“I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”
These simple words lie at the heart of Ruta Sepetys’ World War II masterpiece, Salt to the Sea. In it, she tells the story of the greatest maritime disaster in history: the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff. A Soviet submarine sank this German ocean liner on January 30, 1945. A staggering nine thousand people perished. (By comparison, the Titanic’s death toll was one thousand five hundred.) Because the Gustloff’s passengers were refugees from Nazi-occupied lands, their deaths went largely unreported and unmourned in the English-speaking world. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in history, yet Sepetys’ fictional account was the first I ever heard of this tragedy.
talk a lot about the glamour of the 1940s.
Of course, we all know what they mean. The classy outfits. The perfectly curled hair. Epic Hollywood blockbusters and dazzling Hollywood stars, from Casablanca to Citizen Kane, from Bergman to Bogart. Swing bands and soda fountains and “going steady” … and over it all, the distant rumble of foreign war. Just foreign enough to be thrilling, rather than terrifying.
This month’s theme is “Sleuths & Spies,” so I’m writing about a man who’s a bit of both.
I’ll be honest. I took way too long to settle on a topic for this issue, “Love Triangles.”
I sat and stared at my blank computer screen, racking my brains for something—anything!—yet coming up empty. Finally, I complained to a dear friend (and fellow Femnista writer). “Where have all the good love triangles gone? Why, oh why, can’t I think of one?”
Her response was immediate: “Sense and Sensibility! Your favorite Austen story!”
And lo, out of darkness, there appeared a great light… in my brain, that is. “Oh.” Continue reading
Few authors capture the magic of childhood as well as Rumer Godden.
Until a year ago, I’d have argued the finest example is Godden’s Christmastime classic, The Story of Holly and Ivy, dual-narrated by a lonely orphan girl and a lonely doll without an owner. Now, though, I have to admit another Godden story, The Kitchen Madonna, might just give Holly and Ivy a run for their money. Continue reading
What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes story?
Every Holmes fan has a different answer to that question. My own has always been “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” Published in 1926, “Lion’s Mane” is the final installment in the collection entitled The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. Because the Case-Book was the last Holmes anthology Conan Doyle published, “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” was the last story Sherlock Holmes (in his original incarnation, at any rate) would ever appear in. Continue reading
Chaim Potok (1929-2002): New York native. Orthodox Jew. Rabbi. Bestselling author. Clearly a fascinating literary figure, by anyone’s standards. Continue reading