Book review: “Thérèse of Lisieux: God’s Gentle Warrior” by Thomas R. Nevin

Book review: “Thérèse of Lisieux: God’s Gentle Warrior” by Thomas R. Nevin

  For Thomas R. Nevin, the key insight into the short life and rich spirituality of Thérèse of Lisieux is to be found in a conversation in January, 1897, eight months before her death from tuberculosis. Thérèse, a Discalced Carmelite, known in her French convent as Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face,

Book review: “Westminster Abbey” by Richard Jenkyns

Book review: “Westminster Abbey” by Richard Jenkyns

    The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, established in Westminster Abbey a century ago, was the first of a multitude of such memorials in countries across the globe.  This never-identified warrior represents every individual military person who has given his or her life in defense of the British nation. In his erudite, lively and

Book review: “Norwood” by Charles Portis

Book review: “Norwood” by Charles Portis

  Norwood, the first novel by Charles Portis, is a wry, sweet, kindly novel that follows Norwood Pratt, ex-GI and decent enough car repairman, on a meandering, low-stress odyssey across the U.S. from Camp Pendleton, outside San Diego, to his home in Ralph, Texas, and, eventually, back on the road in a too-good-to-be-true car (it

Essay:  We need more holidays like Juneteenth

Essay: We need more holidays like Juneteenth

    It makes a lot of sense to establish June 19 — Juneteenth, the celebration of the emancipation of the final group of black slaves in 1865 — as a national holiday. Maybe the most important reason is that it commemorates an event in which the entire nation, black and white, took part.  Enslaved

“The Loop” on the radio

“The Loop” on the radio

The first interview about my upcoming book — The Loop:  The “L” Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago (SIU Press, November) — will be Sunday at 1:15 pm with Playtime book show hosts Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall. You can tune in online on Facebook at WCGOradio and streaming at WCGO.com.  Also, it can be

Book review: “Saving Ruby King” by Catherine Adel West

Book review: “Saving Ruby King” by Catherine Adel West

In the closing pages of Catherine Adel West’s Saving Ruby King, two men and two women can hear police sirens approaching, drawn by reports of a gunshot in the house where they stand. Usually, in a novel like this — a book about family dysfunction and violent secrets and quests for redemption — this climactic

Essay:  The After

Essay: The After

    I’ve started to think of it as The After.  I mean that time when it will be safe for me and the rest of the world to do all the stuff we used to do before Covid-19 showed up and ruined the party. The time after we’ve lived through this pandemic, those of

Book review: “House Numbers: Pictures of a Forgotten History” by Anton Tantner

Book review: “House Numbers: Pictures of a Forgotten History” by Anton Tantner

  The advertisement in the Vienna newspaper on February 2, 1771, was the sort of plea that has been repeated in one medium or another since earliest human times. Three days before, “a Bolognese puppy, a white male all over and having blue eyes but with one lighter blue than the other and a small

Poem: “Allelulia steeples”

Poem: “Allelulia steeples”

    Alleluia steeples By Patrick T. Reardon   Give me two mule-loads of mud flooded with the Lord God, the water in which I washed, plunged seven times, gagged, splashed, amok, spluttered, my flesh like the flesh of a child, uncleanness now whiter than snow;   The baby sleeps in the upper room. The

Book review: “The Hussar” by David R. Slavitt

Book review: “The Hussar” by David R. Slavitt

  David Slavitt’s novel The Hussar is the story of Lieutenant Stefan F———, a young Austro-Hungarian cavalry officer in 1866, new to his regiment and to military life, who, in his bungling callowness, falls into a situation in which he is having sex every other night with an attractive widow in her 40s and, on