Does time really heal all wounds—or only pass them on? Does history actually repeat itself? For whom? When? In a series of case studies that shift the focus from the motives and humanity of the rescuer to those of the people needing help, Tumarkin’s passionate and compassionate study of trauma explores “what …humans do with their pain” and dramatically shows that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Why did one child survivor of the Holocaust become a dynamic force in the entertainment world while another landed in jail for trying to protect her grandson? For both, their early experiences remained a daily reality, permeating their lives with the unmistakable “atmosphere” of the Holocaust. Even more difficult to explain is suicide. Do children of parents who killed themselves feel compelled to repeat the last act of their parent? The fear that one suicide will spark another inhibits even raising the subject, and Tumarkin’s chapter on a series of young peoples’ suicides within one community is both heartbreaking and revelatory. If suicide seems to run in families, can it run in a school, that loco parentis? Yet “there’s no space for a suicide in a school’s institutional memory”—even as teachers state that it’s the students they lose, not the success stories, they always remember. Grounded in “the bottomlessness of human endurance,” this is one of the many hard-won—not pat—truths Tumarkin uncovers in this riveting and troubling book.
Guy Davenport spent his life immersed in books while keeping correspondence with hundreds of notable artists and writers. The Geography of the Imagination distills Davenport’s fascination with the reappearance of symbols over time. The titular essay charts Edgar Allan Poe’s interest in interior design and tussles out details of the American Gothic—a painting we assume to know until Davenport reveals how its domestic familiarities extend back to archaic myth. These essays extend appreciation (and bookshelves) for the familiar—Joyce, Whitman, Marianne Moore—and those lost to time. The fun of reading Davenport comes from being with him through his unexpected discoveries.
Places where, while reading this book, my belly laugh drew attention from strangers: the E4 to Friendship Heights, Panera, the back of an Uber, the front of an Uber, the waiting room at my endocrinologist’s office. Let me tell you, dear reader, this book is funny as heck. In this collection of essays Philpott discusses her life as a genuinely funny person; from getting married, to raising children, to analyzing the clothing choices of celebrities. This delightful and entertaining memoir also prominently features a lobsterman, a snake wedding, and an exploding dog butt. Just trust me and read this book, OK?