Rosemary and Pansies, Remembrance and Thoughts: Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies. That's for thoughts."—Ophelia, Hamlet, act IV, scene V. There is something remarkable in the state of Stratford, at least as rendered in Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague. Something I turn over and over, like an array of items rising … Continue reading Rosemary and Pansies, Remembrance and Thoughts: Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’

Here There Be Monsters: ‘Lady From the Black Lagoon’ and ‘Margaret the First’

What does it mean to be a creative or creatively-engaged person in a culture that values you primarily for your body alone—your beauty, your procreative potential? Two books I read recently explore this question through the experiences of two very different women and they explore it in very different ways. Yet I find illuminating connections … Continue reading Here There Be Monsters: ‘Lady From the Black Lagoon’ and ‘Margaret the First’

The Force is Strong With This One: Decentering the Powerful in Mantel’s ‘The Mirror and the Light’

The concert musical Six recasts the women who married Henry VIII as pop divas, each queen getting at least one number telling her side of the story. It deliberately aims to decenter Henry, asserting that each of these women meant more than her marital status to a king. Reformulating the story matters because it pushes … Continue reading The Force is Strong With This One: Decentering the Powerful in Mantel’s ‘The Mirror and the Light’

Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” Trilogy, + Mini-Notions Because We Need the Little Things Now

I am somewhat loathe to recommend Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" trilogy since I know that, fundamentally, it will not be everyone's cup of mead. To start, these are big books. Wolf Hall clocks in at 559 pages, Bring up the Bodies 434, and the just-released conclusion, The Mirror and the Light, an easy, breezy 764 … Continue reading Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” Trilogy, + Mini-Notions Because We Need the Little Things Now

Introducing “Here Today” + New Books

A couple of quick items. First, meet "Here Today," a Medium site devoted to reflecting on daily life during the novel coronavirus pandemic and related social distancing. It features several writers, including myself. Second, if you have the means, throw some love to your favorite local indie bookstore (as opposed to that decidedly not indie … Continue reading Introducing “Here Today” + New Books