As a young neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi had the difficult task of preparing patients and their families for death. As a brain surgeon his patients included everyone from young children with epilepsy, to teens shot in the head during gang violence, to people of all ages suffering from brain tumors.
Then there was the man who spoke only in numbers. He enunciated well, and spoke with a conversational lilt to his words yet no one understood him. The numbers signified nothing, and left him feeling more alone.
Unlike many doctors, Dr. Kalanithi enjoyed the challenge of discussing death with his terminally-ill patients. His undergraduate and graduate studies of philosophy and literature helped him make these talks both meaningful and helpful while always being cognizant of where the patient and family were coming from in their understanding of the patient’s condition.
But then in his last year as a resident when he was the chief neurosurgery resident at Stanford, he woke one day with intense back pain. He had a checkup but nothing serious showed, so he flew to upstate New York for a reunion with dear friends that he had long been anticipating. Read more about When Breath Becomes Air
I remember the first time I became aware of the movie Brazil. I was reading through “Variety” magazine in an effort to keep up with the films of the day when I suddenly came across a strange full-page advertisement. It didn’t say much. It was a full page sheet bordered in black with the question, “Dear Sid Sheinberg, when are you going to release my film Brazil? Terry Gilliam.” At the time, I had not heard of the film Brazil and did not know the controversy surrounding its release in the United States. Read more about Brazil
This beautiful novel weaves together two stories from vastly different time periods. One is that of modern Taryn, a single Mom, who works at a high-end fabric store in Manhattan that specializes in matching rare fabrics. The other is Clara’s story about working as a nurse with infectious disease patients on Ellis Island in 1911.
Both women have experienced deep tragedies.Taryn lost her husband in the World Trade Bombings of 2001. A special fabric assignment made her late to a Windows on the World restaurant breakfast with her husband who worked in one of the towers. He died. She survived, thanks to a the scarf that is featured in the title, a beautiful scarf more than a hundred years old that Clara also wore on Ellis Island.
Throughout her life Clara had been spunky. As a teenager she helped her dad in his doctor’s office and unlike her mother and sister, could handle even the bloodiest patrons, and the most horrific sick room scenes. Unlike many young women of her time, she traveled far from home for a job, first working in Manhattan for the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. Read more about A Fall of Marigolds
First Line: “I am, beyond a doubt, the last of the old-timers. My name is Jack Crabb. And I am the sole white survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, uh, uh, popularly known as Custer's Last Stand.”
Even though Little Big Man is a comedy it was one of the first movie westerns to portray Native American’s in a positive light and our treatment of them as the horror it often was. Read more about Little Big Man
Do you remember what significant event happened on Nov. 30, 1999?
The World Trade Organization protests, which rocked Seattle that day, shocked the world. In many ways, they served as a precursor of what was to come: Wall Street protests, the Occupy Movement, anger against Wall Street, and massive climate change rallies.
This dramatic, fast-paced novel shows you how thie WTO protest felt from the perspectives of protesters, the police and mayor, and one delegate from Sri Lanka whose country’s future hung in the balance.
The protesters were mostly young, and trained in nonviolence. But alas, the cops were ill-prepared and vastly outnumbered and reacted with fear and brutality. The police included a woman from Guatemala who’d worked for the LA Police during the Rodney King fiasco, another who had been severely scarred by the Oklahoma bombing, and Seattle’s Chief of Police himself, a man who preferred no conflict and whose careful planning was torn aside in the torrent of history. Read more about Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Since 1976, four hundred and ninety four blacks have been executed in our country. This is more than half the amount of executions of whites, although Caucasians make up a much greater percentage of our population.
This powerful short novel tells the story of Jefferson, a young black man, who was sentenced to execution in the Jim Crow days of the 1940s in Cajun Louisiana. Grant Wiggins, one of the few college-educated blacks in the area, narrates the story.
It opens with a liquor store robbery where Jefferson unfortunately happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soon an all-white jury convicts the young man, and he is sentenced to the electric chair. Attending the trial are his godmother, Miss Emma, who raised him, and Tante Louise, who brought up Grant and with whom he still lives. Read more about A Lesson Before Dying