Monthly Archives: February 2012

If It Walks Like a Duck

On the Sunday morning shows, where politics is explored, where our politicians and our congress people and our journalists get together to talk about issues (and reveal their obsession with all things political), right now we get to meet the candidates competing for the Republican 2012 nomination to decide who will run against Obama. This past Sunday I watched David Gregory interview Rick Santorum on Meet the Press. Rick Santorum has had me all riled up lately because of the things he has to say about all kinds of social issues, which I did not believe were the key issues in this election. Rick Santorum blamed the press for skewing his message. He said he wants to address employment and the economy and all of the issues related to our current financial situation, but that the press keeps asking him questions about social issues, like abortion, and contraception and the role of religion in American politics. He says that the press is trying to destroy conservatives. He assured the American public that in spite of what he believes about when human life begins and about the importance of being allowed to express religious beliefs while governing, he does not intend to make these issues the center of his presidency.
I would like to feel reassured by Rick Santorum’s statements on Sunday morning television relative to what he will do if elected but I can’t. I live in the New York district that elected Ann Marie Beurkle to the House of Representatives. She did not run on social issues. She never mentioned that she is not just against abortion on her own behalf, but is against abortion on behalf of everyone. She never told her electorate that she was at the radical end of the conservative spectrum. She hid her inflexible biases throughout the election, although if her constituents had done their due diligence on the internet her stand on these issues would have been apparent. We’re bad voters sometimes. We don’t do our research. We elected Ann Marie Beurkle and ever since she has represented only herself and her extreme agenda. She has held a number of town meetings, but at these meetings she does not listen to her constituency; she only preaches the platform of Ann Marie Beurkle. It is extremely frustrating.
So, I say, take a clue from what is happening to the people in Central and Northern New York. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is duck. If you elect Rick Santorum, no matter how much he believes that he will leave his social agenda aside, he does not have the flexibility to do so. He will not be able to leave his extreme ideas out of the dialogue a President must have with America. The news media may be trying to destroy conservatives, although they seem to be doing a good job of self-immolation: I don’t really know. But in the case of Rick Santorum I think what they are doing is trying to preserve the rights and beliefs of all Americans, not just one small group of Americans. They are trying to help us do our due diligence.

Here is a comment from the Republican in my Backyard. Most people cannot figure out how to publish a comment on my site and neither can I.

 

Comments from the Republican in your backyard:
Social issues are certainly important and should certainly be something to consider (abortion, birth control, religion) but what the press is doing is wrong, wrong whether you are a democrat, republican, conservative or liberal (or the new code word, progressive).  The press by only focusing on certain social issues, the social issues that certainly polarize the nation, is doing a disservice to the country by not addressing the most critical issues today – the national debt, deficit, economy, devaluation of the dollar and unemployment.  Regardless of who gets elected, the republicans in general are going to push for maintaining the status quo or pushing back on abortion.   Half the country believes that abortion is wrong, half believe it is right.   The current case regarding birth control and religion is a case of the government infringing upon religious freedom.  If the press wants to focus on social issues, why not focus on the failure of great society to lift ANYONE from poverty.  Trillions of dollars later, we have the same number people as a percentage in poverty.  Isn’t it about time we consider that program a failure and look for another way to move people from poverty?  As an example, consider South Korea?  What raised the standard of living there and moved people out of poverty… capitalism.

Kick Women Out of the Job Market

I am quite surprised that I have not heard anyone suggest that we could solve our unemployment problems and perhaps make marriage more popular if women would just leave the job market. Someone mentioned this suggestion in an editorial he wrote to the local newspaper, but it was done tongue-in-cheek. This may be a sign that, although women’s rights are being challenged in the area of women’s health, no one can conceive of a modern job market that doesn’t include women. Wow, if that is so we have come a long way baby! And even though we are accepted in the work place apparently many feel we should not be allowed to make decisions about contraception and/or abortion. Let’s hope we are through with this anomaly soon.
I keep expecting one of those reactionary Republicans to throw out the banishment of women from the workplace as a suggestion at one of their many debates or campaign speeches, but I have not even heard anyone hint at this. My mother has no such compunctions. She makes it clear that she believes that women who have children should stay home. Of course, my mother was born in 1917, when a woman who was single and had a child was not nearly as acceptable a phenomenon as it is today. She never thinks about single moms and how they would survive if women found it difficult or impossible to find a job. Maybe she believes that if women had to stay home with their children there would not be many single moms. Whatever else she believes, she feels genuinely upset that women have babies and then leave them all day to go back to work. If we as a nation had a more comprehensive approach to child care, moms and dads and children would probably all benefit.
Perhaps no one has brought up chasing women out of the workplace because it is almost impossible to live in middle class America without two salaries. With so many people unemployed this aspect of our economy has really become apparent to many American families. Drastic adjustments in lifestyle have had to be made by many who lost a wage earner, or even two, to downsizing, or who have had to rearrange their budgets to accommodate jobs with lower pay and fewer hours. Obviously two wage earners will continue to be necessary in American households for some time. This may be why women have not taken more heat in this regard.
I also would love to believe that men enjoy dealing with women who have more satisfying and productive lives and who get to use their talent and their intelligence in both the work place and the home. Although marriages have had to go through some adjustments, perhaps to become more team- oriented and less traditional, dealing with a marriage and a family as partners is something that makes marriages that work in this fashion much more satisfying and supportive.
                                                                                                                    

A Sentimental Oscar Sunday

It’s Sunday, the same Sunday as the 2012 Oscars and my sister, my 94 year old mom and I are going to the Manlius Art Cinema to see The Artist which will probably win almost every prize at the Oscar presentations tonight. First of all, I don’t think I have ever gone to see an Oscar nominated film on the day of the Oscar ceremonies so, goofy me, it intensifies my enjoyment of the outing. Second of all, my sister has talked my mom into going with us. She doesn’t go out a lot lately, especially since it is winter and she is too vain to wear her boots (like us when we were teenagers). We are happy to have her with us. Third of all, The Artist is a silent movie and our mom remembers silent movies from the twenties when they were actually the only kind of movies there were. She wanted to know if someone was going to play the piano. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy a silent movie, but I was sure I would enjoy mom’s reactions to it.
We saw this silent movie at a small local theater called the Manlius Art Cinema. This theater was built in the 1920’s and also experienced first-hand the silent movie era. We were basically in a time machine shuttling back and forth between the early years of two different centuries. The Manlius Art Cinema sounds far grander than it is. It has fallen on hard times, as have the rest of us and has not been refurbished in many years. Jerk Magazine wrote about the cinema.
[It] is a tiny historical movie theater built in the 1920’s. It screens foreign films, independent films and a lot of limited release films. It is owned by a super nice old couple, Nat Tobin and Eileen Lowell. They personally hand-pick all the films scheduled to screen.
I’m not kidding when I say that this is a tiny, old, historical movie theater. I felt like I was walking into a trailer. There’s only one screen. Ghetto fabulous. But here’s the thing: without the tight space, the low seats, the old-fashion persona of the place, there would be no sense of history or old-school cinema feel. From the moment I stepped into the cinema, I felt like I walked into another time zone. It was all very twilight zone except without all the science fiction and horror sequences.
The owner of the theater, still Nat Tobin, always speaks to his film audiences before the viewing. He welcomes us, tells some history of the theater and of the movie , and he announces what he and Eileen will be screening next. I am sitting at the very edge of the theater next to the wall. In front of me is a little dry ditch cut into the concrete floor and a mesh bag of those drying crystals we use in basements, which suggest the theater is not always dry. Ghetto fabulous, I guess, but although it is not glamorous, I am not freaked out by this either. It’s sort of endearing and we are lucky to have this couple who spend their lives showing us movies that other theaters do not find it profitable to screen.
The lights go down and we are swept away into the world of George (Dad’s name) Valentin and his sweet dog and Peppy Miller and it is far sadder than I thought it would be. When my mom and my sister start going for their tissues I know it is a success. They always cry together at movies. I do not cry at movies very often these days, but my eyes feel suspiciously wet. These two, George and Peppy, had megawatt smiles. When they were not sad and they smiled it seemed as if the lights went on all over the world. And Peppy, who seemed a light-weight at first, ended up being someone who really stood by her man. We thoroughly enjoyed this timely adventure in timelessness. Afterwards we eschewed the minimalist confines of the Chipotle Grill for an old timber and oak, classic, meat-and-potatoes restaurant (Scotch and Sirloin) with lots of handsome waiters dressed, oddly enough, in  long white butcher’s coats. We were seated a bit too close to the service bar, but we enjoyed our post theater supper very much and we were home in time to see the Oscars. Lovely!

http://www.jerkmagazine.net/columns/nearby-nooks/manlius-art-cinema.html

One for the Money – Movie

My sister did a two-for-the-price-of-one deal on Groupon so we went to see One for the Money, the movie made from the Janet Evanovich book of the same name. We both love reading Evanovich’s series of books (up to #18 now) about Stephanie Plum, skip tracer, and all her friends and family and coworkers living in the “Burg” in Trenton, New Jersey. Stephanie succeeds as a skip tracer almost totally by accident, since she has no real skills and she lives at the edge of disaster. She does have two very capable and sexy men who rescue her, a lot.
This is the first Stephanie Plum book that has been made into a movie. Katherine Heigl was cast in the role of Stephanie, Jason O’Mara  in the role of Joe Morelli, Daniel Sunjata in the role of Ranger, and Debbie Reynolds in the role of Grandma Mazur. The casting is OK; the only ones who really matched the images I had created in my mind were Morelli and Lula (Sherri Shepherd), who is not yet Stephanie’s partner in her skip trace adventures. Although Jason O’Mara does not look Italian, he does read like a young Mel Gibson and he is appropriately “hot”. Katherine Heigl was not bad as Stephanie; it was probably the fault of the writer that she was not as incompetent as she is in the Evanovich books. Grandma Mazur seemed much too with it and she didn’t have her Glock. (I read the first book so long ago that it is hard to remember if Grandma was already toting in Book 1.)
We did enjoy the movie. There were plenty of naked geriatric bodies (just one I think, but it was plenty) and at least one car blew up. Stephanie drove at least 3, maybe 4 different cars and including her own car which she lost in a repo early in the movie. It’s just that an Evanovich book is like a truffle or a chocolate covered cherry, delicious and fast, with an explosive center and this movie was more like a butterscotch candy, still pleasing but much slower to enjoy, without the indulgent center.

Marriage Declines – Who’s Responsible?

The traditional American family has been under scrutiny lately because it seems to be in decline. Unmarried people over 18 now represent 44% of the adult population. An online article says that “In US Proportion Married at Lowest Recorded Levels.” The drop has been most obvious among young adults aged 25-34. “More young couples are delaying marriage or forgoing marriage altogether,” says the article. This article http://www.prb.org/Articles/2010/us/marriage.decline.aspx suggests that the economy and housing market may play a role.
The number of cohabiting couples rose 13% in one year’s time, says an article in USA Today, from 6.7 million to 7.5 million which is also, they believe, caused by the recession. www.usatoday.com/news/census/2010-09-24-cohabitation24ONLINE_ST_N.html The % of couples in which both partners are employed dropped significantly. Wikipedia says the number of cohabiting couples is 10 times greater now than it was in 1960, which suggests this trend is not only related to the current recession. Another astonishing fact in the Wikipedia article says that one in every four American households is occupied by someone living alone.
Facts like this definitely make you wonder what is going on with the traditional American family. I do not believe, as some Republicans have recently suggested that liberal Democrats are responsible for this transformation and that it is a symptom of the overall moral decline of American that we can expect to gain force if we reelect Obama. The American family has been in “decline” for some time and we all can list what we believe are some of the reasons for this. Obviously, the discovery of the “pill” which gave contraception such a convenient and effective form is one of the factors we would name.
I don’t believe we can lay responsibility for the pill at the feet of the Democrats. I am guessing women were the driving force in the almost universal and rapid adoption of the birth control pill, although many men also found things to like about the pill. We all suspect that the women’s liberation movement has played a part in changing our dependence on the family unit. Women with a good education and a good job change the age-old balance between the male (hunter-gatherer) and the female (housekeeper) in a marriage. I don’t think we can blame the women’s movement on the liberal Democrats either although many women probably found refuge in the Democratic Party.
I called up a paper on the internet from the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 21, No.2, Spring 2007, pp. 27-52 entitled “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces” by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.
They agreed with us about the first two items we list as factors that changed American families. They remind us that the family is not a static institution. They include a few more factors in the list of things that are changing families. They believe that household technology played a role, freeing women from housekeeping duties by making these duties less time-consuming. Changes in wage structures have played a role they say. Women make more money and are therefore changing the old hunter-gatherer and housekeeper model perhaps to a leisure and consumption model. Whether we get what that means or not I think we can accept that higher wages have made women less dependent on men in a marriage. They also give credit to the arrival of the “unilateral” or no-fault divorce in which partners could separate without giving a reason. And finally they mention that there have been changes in the marriage market, or in the way we meet our spouses. These changes represent to me the huge cultural shift that began in the 1960’s or perhaps even during WW II.
When a culture makes such a cataclysmic shift it is often difficult to find all the threads of change that caused the culture, which usually moves with a sort of glacial slowness, to make a more rapid jump, perhaps more comparable to an earthquake. Were the roots in World War II when women had to go to work? Can we lay the blame at the feet of Rosie the Riveter? Were the roots after the war when women did not all leave the marketplace and go back to keeping houses? Was it because women began to attend college in larger numbers and across social classes? Can we blame the Vietnam War because it turned people into activists who sang antiwar songs and took drugs and made up slogans like “make love, not war”?  Changing a social institution as ingrown as the traditional family probably took all of the above.

Stevenson and Wolfers say the family unit is still doing well among the wealthy, the happy and the healthy. Families with a high earning potential specialize in market production. Those with a “love of fun” benefit from shared leisure and consumption and those with good health gain from greater longevity of their marriage. This is supported by data that suggests that marriage rates are higher for those with high incomes and higher levels of education. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-the-rise-of-new-families/

I can see that some Republicans are yearning for the certainties of the past. I can see that they believe the roots of the traditional family are Biblical and therefore sacred. I can see that they feel that “liberal” Democrats backed all of these social changes that have had such powerful effects on the American family. I am sure not all of the support for these social changes came from Democrats. People made personal, not party line choices about what they supported or didn’t. Some of this cultural change was so fast and so powerful that we were swept away by it and really had little choice in the matter. Change happened, with or without our approval. That the dividing line between marriage and cohabitation or single parenthood seems to be forming around the economic resources available to a couple and therefore are dividing along “class” lines.

I don’t think that we will be able to turn back the clock on this stuff, put the genie back in the bottle, no matter how unsettling it is. We could make an American Theocracy and legislate ourselves back to the past, but it would not yield the America that Republicans really want. It would not be the America our forefathers brought to life and it would be a static and sorry bargain. All traditional marriages were not marriages made in heaven. Many women became slaves of abusive or controlling husbands and found it almost impossible to leave the marriage.
Republicans are correct in saying that there is no precedent for these changes in the Bible and so we lack a blueprint about how to hang on to morality given these stunning new social developments. However, we can continue to be moral. We can always be guided by The Golden Rule. There is no doubt that morality will not have the comfort of the ancient formulas to guide it, except it will. The same rules that are given to Christians in the Ten Commandments exist in almost every religion. We do see many cultural issues resulting from these changes to family structure and we see that a number of these changes are not positive. Overcoming the difficulties this has caused for our children is perhaps one of our greatest areas of concern. We can probably expect that families will keep changing. In fact we are seeing the influx of a number of “non-traditional” American families as states pass laws allowing same-sex marriage. This development will actually increase the marriage statistics in America and may even make more traditional marriages popular again. Our families are not done changing and the cultural landscape may be totally different in regard to social “family” units fifty years from now. The rules of morality, of basic human decency, if we stick to the basics, will not change that much.

Our Schools

What are we doing to our schools? Schools are being cut, slashed, eviscerated from preschool to college without mercy and without a plan. Teachers are constantly under attack from the government and from their students (who understand that teachers are unpopular people right now). Because the economy is so stressed, the economy is being used as an excuse to rob the unions of their power, to rob teachers of their tenure, and to put an end to peer review. Although the unions bear some responsibility for their current difficulties, most are the result of a loss of leverage because money is tight. At the very least unions should have found ways to get rid of bad teachers. Still, I am betting that sometime in the future all of these management victories will have to be overturned. I understand there is no money right now, but we all know the importance of an education. We all see that a fair number of our children are unconvinced that this is so. We can see what this is doing to their chances to succeed in the 21st century. We do not “put our money where our mouth is.” We say one thing and do another.
Yes, schools are due for reform and the unions probably also need to rethink their priorities. Yes, possibly this austerity approach will force reform. But will we get the reform we need. Will robbing school districts of money and therefore staff and faculty and equipment and books really make us more competitive in terms of the outcomes of our schooling? School administrators are so busy cutting staff and cutting services that they do not have any time to concentrate on curriculum and teacher training and innovation and all of the things that improve schools. Each year they must scramble just to make school happen for that particular year. The stress of this triage pervades the entire institution from top to bottom.
How do we get reluctant children to value education? Drastic cuts in funds do nothing to answer this question, which is not such a prominent question in cultures with less personal freedom, but it is in ours. Many of our children, once they hit middle school, do not want to go to school. That is a real problem and one we haven’t addressed enough. How do we come up with schools that our children want to attend? I’m sure everyone has some ideas about this. Express your ideas; write editorials in the newspaper, get involved with your politicians, let them know how you feel and that you are watching. Request forums where educators and parents get together and discuss this stuff. Parents see what their children go through in school. They know what their children like and don’t like about school. They know the reasons why a child might find a school irrelevant to his/her life.
Parents and teachers together might be able to come up with a more compelling classroom model for schools. At the very least parents and teachers might come up with valid blueprints that conform to reduced school budgets. Schools are just being reactive right now. They know they will probably be cut again next year but they are not calling out their troops to decide how they will deal. Schools could be a bit more proactive. I do understand. however, that it is difficult to be proactive when each school year involves making frantic adjustments to conform with a new financial reality.

Right now it doesn’t look like our governments (federal, state, or local) have much sympathy for schools or teachers or even students for that matter. If schools are to move up on the priority list, what will we need to give up? It would most likely pay off in terms of our children’s futures, and our competitiveness in the world, and even in the health of our economy if we could find some acceptable sacrifices to make for the sake of our children.

Snippets 5

The kids are out of school, Congress is on hiatus, and there is a break in Republican campaigning. Although everything is somewhat on the low down when politics takes a break, stuff still happens. Here are some of the things we’ve been dealing with and hearing about this week.
Whitney Houston’s funeral set the tone for a week long discussion of the terrible toll that drugs and drinking have taken on our musicians (not to mention movie stars). We have lost so many who were so young and so talented, and we have no clue how to end this repetitive tragedy. However, for this moment, we are grieving the loss of Whitney and we are remembering how difficult it has been to watch her as she fought and gave in to her addictions. People tried to intervene; she had the support of friends and family, but this addiction is so powerful, often we must helplessly watch the self-destruction. Let’s hope that this is a scourge the music and the entertainment industry will soon outgrow.
Rick Santorum gave us a rant against contraception in the wake of Obama’s insistence that birth control, which is covered for employees who do not work for a Catholic employer must also be provided by Catholic employers who hire non-Catholics. Obama changed his ruling to say that birth control coverage must be made available, but not necessarily in the employer’s insurance plan. Rick Santorum would solve the whole issue because he believes contraception to be a tool of Satan; he would ban it. Don’t throw out those wire coat hangers yet (sorry that was crude, but since the earth is blessed with 7 billion people I don’t think outlawing contraception is the right move.)
Three journalists died near or in Syria this week. Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, died of an asthma attack. He probably knew the risks to his respiratory system from travelling in that area, but perhaps he didn’t realize that such extreme conditions could kill him. Marie Colvin, an American who wrote for the Sunday Times of London was killed along with the French photojournalist, Remi Ochlik. Our journalists are certainly an intrepid breed. They are even more attracted to places when someone forbids them to go and we owe a lot to their bravery (or stubbornness) because they shed light on the world’s dark places.
If the Republicans are opposed to contraception (as the majority seem to be), they will be even more opposed to the newest “advance” that allows us to test genetic differences in fetuses without amniocentesis. A simple (possibly expensive) blood test will now do the trick. I am sure the GOP pro-lifers are already counting up the abortions this could lead to. But that is not really the point. The test will allow parents who choose to continue a pregnancy to prepare and make sure they find the best plan to help their child develop whatever talents they are born with.
Someone has written something upbeat and optimistic about the world we live in. Peter H. Diamandis and Steve Kotler have written a book called Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. They say: “Take health care: over the past century, child-mortality rates have dropped by 9 percent, while the human lifespan has doubled. Take poverty, which has dropped more in the past 50 years than it did in the previous 500.” These two encourage us to take a longer view if we want to see the progress we have made. It’s a 400+ page book. There is plenty more optimism in there to make your day. We could use a little. There is a review of the book in The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/21/the-world-is-getting-better-argues-new-book-abundance.html
The President can invite anyone he wants to come to the White House to give a concert. Last night he invited Mick Jagger and bluesmen B. B. King and Buddy Guy. He also was persuaded to sing. If you were President who would you invite?

The Forgotten Waltz: a novel by Anne Enright – A Book

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright, winner of the Man Booker Prize, is a story about an affair, something authors have written about many times. What makes this book different? What made it a prize winner? It has something to do with the voice that the author gives her main character, Gina Moynihan, a Dublin girl. She narrates the story in speech so natural and real, that it is enough to amaze anyone who has tried to translate speech from memory to paper.
Gina is married to Conor, who she loves before she meets Sean, and who begins to lose his shine as her relationship with Sean heats up. Sean Vallely, who Gina first sees at the bottom of her sister’s garden, and who she does not fall in love with at first sight (although he makes an impression) is also married and has a daughter, Eve, or Evie. He and his wife Aileen have as complicated a history as any married couple with a child, especially a child with health issues. In an uncomfortable scene where Gina and Conor and Aileen and Sean and Evie are at a beach together, Gina does not over-romanticize.  She tells us, “Certainly, in his togs, Sean – my downfall, my destiny – cut a less than imposing figure. I suppose you could say that of all of us. In the bare sunshine we looked a bit peeled.”
Gina says, “I walk through the Christmas city lights, not a taxi in sight and the town going crazy all around me, and I think how kissing is such an extravagance of nature. Like birdsong; heart-felt and lovely beyond any usefulness.” All the chapters are named for love songs, but this is no perfect love. However, it is near perfect writing. You really need to read it twice; once for the story, once for the prose. You won’t like it of course if affairs are something you want nothing to do with, but if you like to understand all human experience then this may be your cup of tea. It is fast prose, also; it moves right along.

Was what Gina and Sean got worth what they put themselves and everyone else through? You’ll have to make your own decision about that. However, by accident, Gina may have, made a really valuable addition to her life.

Book List – February, 2012

We have not had a hibernation kind of winter like we usually do and so I haven’t spent as much time reading as I usually do. Everything is a trade-off. I suppose that is a good thing because it means I get out and about more often and it has been delightful not to have to shovel everyday and pile on layers of warm clothing. But cocooning is also nice and I’m sure in future winters I will get to do more of it. So here is my new list of books I want to read, with very little hope that I will finish all the titles on this list (or even my previous lists) any time soon.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Reagan Arthur, “enchanting debut novel set in 1920’s Alaska”
The Fear Index by Robert Harris, (for the library catalog) “a visionary scientist creates a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy, but someone is trying to destroy him.”
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey, “Overcoming a life of hardship and loneliness, Gemma Hardy, a brilliant and determined young woman, accepts a position as an au pair on the remote Orkney Islands where she faces her biggest challenge yet.”
How It All Began by Penelope Lively, “The mugging of a retired schoolteacher on a London street has unexpected repercussions for her friends and neighbors when it inadvertently reveals an illicit love affair, leads to a business partnership and helps an immigrant reinvent his life.
Defending Jacob by William Landay, Andy Barber, a respected member of his community and happy at home with wife Laurie and son, Jacob is blindsided when his 14-year-old son is charged with murder of a fellow student.
Home Front by Kristin Hannah, an exploration of the price of war on a single American family
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron, Rwandan runner Jean Patrick Nkuba dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal and uniting his ethnically divided country, only to be driven from everyone he loves when the violence starts, after which he must find a way back to a better life.
Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwall, this is the 6th volume in the Saxon Tales Series, an epic saga of England. I think I will look for volume 1 and start there. This sounds like a series I would enjoy. #1-The Last Kingdom, #2-The Pale Horseman, #3-The Lords of the North, #4-Sword Song, #5-The Burning Land, #6-Death of Kings
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus, a chilling world where the speech of children is killing their parents – Esther’s parents, Sam and Claire, end up in a lab intent on creating non-lethal speech – when Sam discovers what is really going on in the lab he realizes he must reunite with his daughter.
The Odds: a love story by Stewart O’Nan, middle aged couple goes all in for love at a Niagara Falls casino when their home ends up in foreclosure and their marriage is on the brink of collapse.
Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston, woman stuck in dead-end relationship starts to travel compulsively “finding reasons to love life in far-flung places and ends up finding reasons to stay home”
American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, Raised in the American Midwest the author shows readers vividly the powerful forces at work on young men and women growing up Muslim in America. His main character, Hayat is a young man who falls for his mother’s friend Mina inappropriately and with consequences.
Hope: a tragedy by Shalom Auslander, Relocating his family to an unremarkable rural town in NY in the hopes of starting over, Soloman Kugel must cope with his depressive mother, a local arsonist and the discovery of a believed-dead historical specimen in his attic.
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, follows a young woman’s search for the truth about who her mother really is.
Mr. G.: A Novel About Creation by Alan P. Lightman, the story of creation as narrated by God.
Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt, As the bombs rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the country side. Struggling to make sense of her new wartime life she is give a copy of Asgard and the Gods which transforms her life.
The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen by Thomas M Caplan, former soldier turned movie star turned spy – a breakneck parable of good and evil with writing that is elegant and powerful.
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, the epic story of a young man’s journey through the mysterious dictatorship of N. Korea
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker, a poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma
West of Here by Jonathan Evison, the stories of people who first inhabited the mythical town of Port Bonita in Washington state from 1887-1891, and those who live there in 2005-2006 and must deal with the damage done by their predecessors
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay, dark family secret revealed when brother takes sister to childhood vacation site and the repercussions of this secret. Also by the same author, The House I Loved, an ode to Paris, an old Paris woman stays to defend her home against Haussmann’s large scale renovations to the city she loves
Sister by Rosemond Lupton, a NY designer gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch telling her that her younger sister, art student Tess, is missing in London – framed as a letter from Beatrice to Tess the facts are slowly revealed to the reader
The House of Tyneford by Natasha Solomons, a young Jewish woman is forced to flee 1938 Vienna and becomes a parlor maid in England
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, everyone is talking about this book which has recently been made into a movie. It was written as a teen book, but is apparently a book that crosses the boundary between teen lit. and adult lit. This is actually a trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay.

Baby Names – Boys – January – Mid February, 2012

Luke Holden Grant * Donavan Eugene * Brayden Michael * Andrew Thomas * Quest Holmes * Aeden Michael * Declan James * Romeo Dominick * James Thomas * Jacob Michael * Henry Francis * Austin Eddy * Kellan Alexander * Paul John * Miles * Ryan * Elijah James * Kyle Gerald * Garrison Graham * Seth Nicholas * Sawyer Robert * Andrew Lee * Wyatt Allen * Sebatian Peter * Anthony Prymion * Ethan Thomas * Patrick James * Ka’Mel Princeton * Rioghan Draak * Jeydwin Alexander Braiden William * Jahmiah * Joshua William * Caleb William * Robert Joseph * Chase Alexander * Jacob Ryan * Kendrick Synclair * Jedidiyah Michael * Toviyah Matthew * Robert Sean * Ny’zere Dayvon * Elienai Jesus * Kaden Kacey * Luke Leroi * Brecken Paul * Jackson Wyatt * Ethan Angel * Shawn A. * Cooper David * Nikoli Cole * James Michael * Cadel Tomas * Mason Lane * Ayden William * Lachlan Warner * Beckett James *Arey G. * Maximus Arthur * Alexander William * Matthew Vick * Chawn Charles * Carson Daniel * Kodi Michael * DeFine * DeVine * Tristen Aaron Lee * Giordani Jordan * Isaiah Barack * Julius Lorenzo * Huntley Ray * Watson Adam * Ethan Lee * Logan Robert * Ryan Edward * Ethan Mikel * Samuel Mitchell * Lucas David * Michael Phillip * John McNary * Julian Noel-Murray * Isaiah Edward * Oliver * Ky’Ronn D. * Jude William * Nolan Robert * Jonathan Liam * Joseph C. * Hunter William * Peyton Paul * Eugene * Jacob Raymond * Zaykwon Tommy * Aaron Robert * Pierce James * Ethan Michael * Moses Myquan * Andrew Franklin * Bryce Jordan * Nathan Christian * Jayden Robert * Riley Patrick * Brandon James * Kariem W. * Angelo Thomas * Sean Michael * Carlos Jose * Easton James * Tyler Patrick * Felix * Cameron * Eli Isaiah * Austin Michael * Michael Anthony * Bentley Michael