‘They Shall Not Grow Old,’ a WWI Memorial Film

The new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old played in theaters this week, in limited release in the US, for the centennial of the end of World War I. It will presumably be available soon on DVD and a streaming service. The documentary, directed by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), […]

A Free Gift for the William Gass Completist

Wash U in St. Louis archives the papers of several important American writers, including some who taught here. The William H. Gass collection gathers drafts, manuscripts, hand-corrected proofs, recordings, photos, art, correspondence, and other items of interest connected with Gass, the fiction writer, essayist, cultural/literary critic, and professor of philosophy who taught at Wash U […]

Why Are Unions Turning Red?

The Midwestern coal-mining town I am from was probably as close to 100% unionized as it was possible to be, in the first decades of the twentieth century, from the UMWA, trade and craft unions, and sympathies of business owners, families, and friends. This typically meant voting for those with progressive (or at least pro-worker) […]

On Maria Sibylla Merian, Bedtime Stories, and #MeToo

One of my toddler daughter’s favorite books is This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Daniel Roode. When I pre-ordered this cheery little board book earlier this year, I was ecstatic to see just as many women as men, actually more so, within its pages. What I was not […]

The Bigger the Hair, The Closer to Dolly Parton

As the daughter of a former beauty queen and a relatively happy, fat, and confident woman, I was intrigued by the storyline of the Netflix original movie, Dumplin’, which debuted on December 7. Adapted from Julie Murphy’s best-selling 2015 young adult novel of the same name and directed by Anne Fletcher, Dumplin’ highlights the coming-of-age […]

Crossing Over

Bridges are opportunity frozen in steel, a chance to pass from one side of an obstacle to the other. The Chain of Rocks Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River north of downtown St. Louis, is a truss bridge finished in 1929. For many years it was part of Route 66 but was closed to traffic […]

Cape May, New Jersey 

Hugh—“When I was 25, I walked in on my grandma’s killer. She was already dead. Her breasts were cut off. He was still on top of her, raping her, when he heard me come in that night. He tried to get away, but I wrestled him to the ground. I put my hands around his […]

Get Shorty: Act 3, the Series

The producers of the Epix TV series Get Shorty, about (small) organized crime going to Hollywood for new opportunities, say it is merely “influenced by” the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. They even suggest that a security guard at the studio in the series, who waves a car onto the lot and says […]

Letters As Legacy: Why Writing Our Children Matters

As a mother, each month I write a letter to my almost 2-year-old daughter Lucinda, a practice I began nine months before her arrival. I am terrible at keeping her baby book up to date, but I am very good at writing Luci her monthly letter. I learned this letter-writing practice from my own mother, […]

Get Shorty: Act Two, the Movie

With the second season of the new Get Shorty TV series now available, I wanted to revisit Elmore Leonard’s 1990 novel (previous post) and the 1995 movie of the same name. What happens when a narrative spine is used to make a new animal? In the case of the Barry Sonnenfeld movie Get Shorty, the […]