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The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz: A review

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The latecomer in this family saga is Phoebe. She is the younger sister of triplets in the Salo and Johanna Oppenheimer family of New York. When the triplets are ready for college, their mother is feeling alone and she makes the decision to have their embryo sibling implanted in a surrogate and that is how "the latecomer" comes to be in the world. The triplets are Harrison, Sally, and Lewyn, and they came about because Johanna was concerned that she had not become pregnant after three years of marriage and she consulted a fertility doctor. The treatment exceeded her expectations with the result that she ended up with not one but three babies. The three had little in common beyond the fact that they had once shared a womb. In fact, they thoroughly disliked each other and would not even acknowledge their relationship to those who did not know about it. As soon as they are able to leave home, each goes his/her own way. Johanna has hopes that having a new baby will somehow help to

Poetry Sunday: Retread

Here's a retread for this Poetry Sunday. I was searching for a poem to represent this time of year and this one was the first that came up. It sounded very familiar, so I asked Blogger, and sure enough, I had featured it just about a year ago. In the belief that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing, here it is again. *~*~*~* Poetry Sunday: February by Margaret Atwood February 12, 2022 Poetry may not be what Margaret Atwood is most famous for, but she has in fact published eighteen books of poetry. And, judging by this example, she is quite an accomplished poet. This one made me smile in recognition at her description of the interaction with the cat. Also, her description of our increased appetite in winter seems, unfortunately, spot on. It's not an easy time for those of us who have to watch what we eat. We can only hope that spring will arrive in time to save us. February by Margaret Atwood Winter. Time to eat fat and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat

This week in birds - #536

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A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  Pine Siskins are among my favorite winter visitors.  *~*~*~* Coal is economically outmatched by renewable sources of energy. It is more expensive to keep coal-fired power plants running than it is to build new wind or solar plants. *~*~*~* Six western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to cut their use of water in the basin, but so far California is the one hold-out state that has not agreed. *~*~*~* It's a unique partnership: Bottlenose dolphins help Brazilian fishermen pull their catch in. *~*~*~* Why do bears rub against trees ? It seems that there may be more to it than simply scratching an itch. *~*~*~* The EPA has blocked the Pebble mine project in Alaska , a move that will protect a valuable salmon fishery. *~*~*~* A black bear was apparently fascinated by a wildlife motion-activated camera near Boulder, Colorado, and ended up taking hundreds of "selfies."  

The Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor: A review

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This is the first in a proposed trilogy of books, set in India, mostly in Delhi. It is centered around the Wadia family, but we see things mostly through the eyes of Ajay who works for Sonny, the scion of that family.  When he was a young boy, Ajay was sold by his impoverished mother. It was under those circumstances that the boy grew up and eventually came to work for Sonny.  The Wadia family essentially rules Delhi. Nothing can get done there without their consent. This creates an atmosphere that is rife with all manner of vice, including gangsters, kidnappers, murderers, drug addicts, and violent thugs of every stripe. The story is a blend of family saga and crime drama and the writer takes her time in telling it. The book is over 500 pages long and yet it reads quickly. The action never drags and the reader feels compelled to keep turning those pages to find out what will happen next. The book begins with a tragedy, a fatal car crash that killed five people including a pregnant wom

Poetry Sunday: An Old Man's Winter Night by Robert Frost

Winter is winding down, both the season and the winter of our lives. Robert Frost understood such times.  He knew, for example, about entering a room and not being able to remember why you came there and he expressed it well in this poem: "What kept him from remembering what it was that brought him to that creaking room was age." Yes. That.  Well, there's not much we can do about age. It is inexorable, so it's best to simply accept it and move on, keep on "filling the house" and our lives as best we can.  An Old Man's Winter Night by Robert Frost All out of doors looked darkly in at him Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars, That gathers on the pane in empty rooms. What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand. What kept him from remembering what it was That brought him to that creaking room was age. He stood with barrels round him—at a loss. And having scared the cellar under him In clomping there, he

This week in birds - #535

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A favorite winter visitor - the Chipping Sparrow . *~*~*~* Our ancestors were very hairy creatures and we still carry with us those genes for hairiness, so why don't we look like Australopithecus afarensis?         Depiction of  Australopithecus afarensis .   *~*~*~* Seven states rely on the shrinking Colorado River for water. Since they seem unable to come to an agreement for sharing the water, it seems that the federal government may have to impose such an agreement .  *~*~*~* Prescribed burns, a long-time Indigenous practice , can help to restore depleted lands.  *~*~*~* Inuit communities are calling for mandatory measures to reduce underwater noise pollution which they blame for the disappearance of narwhals and ringed seals from areas where they used to hunt them. *~*~*~* Why do the newts cross the road and why are there volunteers out there helping them to do it? *~*~*~* When scientists tagged a southern ele

Remembering "American Dirt"

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This op-ed piece in the Times reminded me of my own take on American Dirt which I read and reviewed three years ago. Apparently, the book is still stirring up feelings. Here were my thoughts on it at the time. *~*~*~* American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: A review February 11, 2020 Mexico is my next-door neighbor. I live in an area that is made immeasurably richer culturally by Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican heritage. My neighbors, friends, and, yes, employees are some of those people. For those reasons, I was particularly interested to hear about this book. And then shortly after I first heard of it, it seemed the book world exploded along a strict dichotomy of opinions; either it was a "new American classic" or it was a rank example of cultural appropriation and whitewashing. At that point, I tried to distance myself from all the hoopla about the book. I wanted to read it myself and make up my own mind. By now it seems that the plot of the novel is perhaps too well