Issue of February 7, 2010

It’s been a hectic week, but I can promise you it is worth waiting for. An old contributor returns with a thoughtful essay; the bookmarks column has gone fishing; there’s a surprise valentine in the air; and brilliant bastards abound. Sound good? Then dig in.

In his philosophical poem, “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,” American modernist poet Wallace Stevens uses a compelling but “odd  conjunction of words” that Frank X. Roberts wonders might have come from a novel that appeared forty-six years earlier but whose author was a creative contemporary of Wallace’s. Both writers worth discovering, he says, in his contribution, Coincidence or Influence?

Salmon and other fish oil capsules are touted as being a good addition for anyone’s diet these days. But it’s nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, a generation of children were force-fed cod liver oil by the teaspoonful, which as any of our parents can tell us was a nasty (tasting) experience. One such company, the focus of this column’s bookmark, loved it however. Lauren Roberts explores the world of Norway’s most distinctive product in An Oily Bookmark.

It may be a “grand Valentine from one of his biggest fans,” but the book is not being marketed that way. Instead, Pete Croatto says, this biography by a New York Times reporter of one of basketball’s largest players of all time not only short-changes the subject but disrespects the reader in Airball!

From bastard to brilliant. Excluding the classical world, in ages past, children born out of wedlock were deemed bastards and shunned for the crime of being a representation of their mother’s sins. But some of these children went on to become shapers of nations, art, culture, and science, in other words, they helped give us the world we live in now. And, David Mitchell says in Bastardizing History, aren’t we fortunate.

Read! This week Lauren Roberts, in Putting Family First, is encouraging everyone to turn off their television and read. Read to yourself, read to another, read to your children. Go a week without news and see if you feel any different at the end. Make it your goal this week to give a book the attention it deserves.

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