Highly Anticipated New Books

Some people wait anxiously for the newest iPhone model. For others it’s the latest Star Wars movie installment. I look forward to book releases. And I’ve secured two of this year’s the most highly anticipated novels, “Klara And The Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro, and “My Year Abroad” by Chang-Rae Lee.

“Klara And The Sun”

What does it mean to love? Can a protagonist who happens to be a robot explore such a profound question? In an extraordinary novel, Klara, a solar-powered “Artificial Friend” or “AF”, does just that.

Waiting to be chosen, Klara stands in a store window viewing the…

When you’re on the other side of fifty, you start getting those dreaded personalized AARP mailings that enthusiastically exclaim, “You now qualify for membership benefits and discounts!” What you hear as you frantically stuff the unopened envelope into the garbage is “You are now officially old.”

While one learns to accept other age-related milestones like colonoscopies, I never expected to hear the words “hip replacements” uttered about me. But, five years ago, getting up from sitting after an ambitious, three-hour, beginner’s French class my right hip buckled, and I hobbled out of the classroom. I chalked it up to being…

Some of the best

What’s old is new again, as David Sedaris and Joan Didion, arguably two of the most recognizable essayists, have published new books within weeks of each other: Sedaris’s “The Best Of Me,” released in November, and Didion’s “Let Me Tell You What I Mean” was published this month.

Their latest books are new collections of their previous works. Each author famously draws extensively from their personal lives to illuminate their topics in unexpected ways. They share similar sentiments about their writing. Didion states, “Writers are always selling somebody out,” and Sedaris comments, “As a writer, you’re sort of exploiting everybody…

Me as child in front of our family Christmas tee

My friend Mary has a green thumb. A few months ago she pointed out a sizable evergreen that flanked the left side of the steps leading up to her front door. She declared, “It’s going to be our Christmas tree this year.”

Families often shop together to pick out a holiday tree. Some even go so far as to visit a cut-your-own-tree farm to choose one, but who can say they grew their own Christmas tree — in their front yard?

At the other end of the spectrum is the tabletop tree that’s in my storage closet. …

Binge Reading

A Good Time For A Good Book…Or 50

I haven’t baked anything. I didn’t take up gardening. While working part-time from home, I, like many, watched way too much Netflix. And, since the start of the pandemic, I read…a lot.

Available time is a factor, but I noticed around the fifth month, I started picking up speed and doing what can only be described as binge reading. (At least it’s healthier than stress eating.) As my anxiety increased, my reading picked up momentum. Beginning March 2020 till the beginning of November, I’ve read a stream of 50 books.

Perhaps because I work with the library, or, since reading…

One of the perks of working for Disney back when my kids were very young was getting my hands on all the latest animated movies tapes…first, and free.

I still own a box of over 30 VHS cassettes that Disney no longer makes. Some are purported to be valuable enough to fetch thousands of dollars from collectors. There are wildly variable eBay listings for these tapes. One seller is asking a million dollars for a tape, I possess, while another is offering the same one for $3, plus shipping.

Among all those clamshell cases is a copy of the 1998…

Secrets of the Chefs

How do you become a French chef? Do you take your New York family for a stint in the food center of France? Or, do you have to leave your French birth nation and come to America to find a place in a professional kitchen?

Two chefs find their answers in these notable food memoirs; “Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking” by Bill Buford the best-selling author of “Heat,” and “Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters” by Dominique Creen who became the first female chef to…

He was my midday anchor.

I started seeing him on March 11 and nearly every day for the next 111 days. My husband asked, “What do you see in that guy?” or more accurately, “Why are you watching that?” My daughter just put in earphones and kept working on her computer.

But, I was not alone. The Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings were “must-watch” events for millions stuck at home during the coronavirus “pause.” While New York State’s population numbers under 20 million people, his briefings received 59 million online views.

The three-term Democrat’s approval ratings soared to nearly 90%. A…

In elementary school, a loud taunt would ring out whenever a certain schoolmate saw me. “Ching Chong Chong! Ching Chong Chong!” The singsong mocking emanated from a sneering boy pulling up the corners of his eyes.

I was the only Asian girl in that virtually all white elementary school. My parents had moved us from the Bronx to Queens when they became proud owners of our family’s first house. They came for the neighborhood’s “better” schools. As a shy kid eager to fit in, this boy’s racial jeering was public torture. My frantic wishes for someone to help me were…

Timely Fun Read

A security guard accompanied by a white customer in an upscale convenience store confronts a young black woman with a white toddler. He questions her suspiciously, “Is this your child?”

The scenario that opens “Such A Fun Age,” the best-selling debut novel by Kiley Reid, could have been ripped from today’s headlines; an innocent situation arousing an erroneously suspected crime, based on the color of someone’s skin. Generating literary buzz and topping many must-read lists, this amusing satire (the movie rights have already been acquired) is not your average millennial coming-of-age story.

Wrongly accused of kidnapping, it isn’t until Emira…

Doreen Munsie

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