June 19, 2012

Book review: “Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon

In 2009, Thomas Pynchon published a (for him) short 369-page mystery novel “Inherent Vice” about a hippie private investigator trying to puzzle out a host of intricate and seemingly inter-related crimes, deaths, “deaths,” disappearances, hallucinations, scams, drug deals, relationships and betrayals. And was accused of betrayal by some critics and longtime Pynchon fans for slumming in genre fiction. On that question, I have nothing to say. Many years ago, I gave Pynchon a shot, trying and failing to get very far into a couple of his earlier novels. (Not much of an effort, I must admit.) So I’m in no position to judge whether he’s slumming. Yet, for what it’s worth, after reading “Inherent Vice,” I’m going to take a stab, sometime soon, at one of his “literary” works. Beside the point Actually, the distinction between literary and genre books is somewhat beside the point for a writer as talented as Pynchon.
June 18, 2012

AUSL Master’s Degree graduation valedictory by Sarah Catherine Shiel Reardon on June 9, 2012

Good morning residents, colleagues, family, and friends! Michael Whitmore said the three Rs of a successful urban teacher are resiliency, responsiveness, and reflectiveness. Residents, now that we have completed our residency, I know that we all have a deeper understanding of those three words than we ever did on that sunny August day at NLU. Our residency and the work we are committing ourselves to do is hard word. It is. Period. It requires us to be resilient. It requires us to be ready and flexible. It requires us to be reflective. Today is a special day to honor the hard work we have done and the hard work we will do. Every child deserves a quality education to realize their potential and we are the lucky ones that get to be a part of that. Our students will be the future doctors, poets, astronauts, mayors, and teachers of the next generation if we can help them get there. We have all read articles that show that quality teachers significantly affect student achievement. One article I read this year said that three quality teachers in a row can close the achievement gap for a student. Now, residents, I am going […]
June 9, 2012

Psalm

The Lord croons melodious tunes. Praise God. The Lord whistles cool breezes. Praise God. The Lord laughs deep from the belly. Praise God. The Lord knows humor as a faithful friend. Praise God. Garden dirt is under the Lord’s fingernails. Praise God. The grit of soil, the Lord knows. Praise God. Sweating, the Lord’s muscles strain. Praise God. The load down, the Lord’s muscles ease. Praise God. The Lord grieves. Praise God. The Lord weeps. Praise God. The weight bows the Lord’s shoulders. Praise God. The Lord’s shoulders take the weight in balance. Praise God. The Lord sings full-throated songs in congregation. Praise God. The Lord’s voice joins all the voices singing. Praise God. The Lord croons melodious tunes. Praise God. Cool breezes are the whistling of the Lord. Praise God. Patrick T. Reardon 1999
June 7, 2012

Book review: “The Menace from Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein

Success, in the form of “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961), went to Robert A. Heinlein’s head. He discovered a callow audience enthralled with his pop psychology and jejune philosophical rantings on free love, non-conformity, self-reliance and nudity, and took it as a license to pontificate. He became bombastic and preachy and, well, a crank. That Heinlein, thankfully, is nowhere to be found in “The Menace from Earth,” a crackerjack 1959 collection of eight stories published between 1941 and 1957. These stories are just plain terrific, displaying, in a highly concentrated form, Heinlein’s great story-telling abilities.
June 6, 2012

Book review: “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011,” edited by Hilary Ballon

Two hundred and one years ago, when New York comprised the small southern tip of Manhattan Island, three commissioners laid out the future of the city as a grid. It was an act of chutzpah.
June 3, 2012

Book review: “American Characters: Selections from the National Portrait Gallery, Accompanied by Literary Portraits” by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis

“American Characters: Selections from the National Portrait Gallery, Accompanied by Literary Portraits” by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis is the sort of photo-art book that you don’t read from cover to cover. Except, it turns out, you do. At least, I did. This 1999 book is irresistibly readable because of — although some might argue in spite of — its being composed of four levels of stories that are told simultaneously.
June 1, 2012

A history of St. Gertrude: One hundred years in the life of a faith family

This abridged history of the St. Gertrude Roman Catholic parish in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago was read at Pentecost mass on May 27, 2012. The full history is to be published later this year. Eileen Quinlan and the other parishioners here and there in the pews of St. Gertrude church knew something was wrong. Nine a.m. had come and gone, and, though the minutes ticked away, Father Bill Kenneally hadn’t arrived at the altar to start mass. “Then he came out, and he was white,” Quinlan remembers. “He said he just watched the second plane hit the building. He was so shaken, he could hardly say mass.” The bright, sparkling, clear-skied Tuesday was September 11, 2001.