April 14, 2004 |
H.L. MENCKEN, wherever he is, ought to be tickled by his current bumper crop of granddaughters. The quintessentially American tradition of journalist-columnist as individual voice and public consciousness-raiser, chronicler and gadfly is being carried forward by a phalanx of word spinners from the distaff side: Molly Ivins, Ellen Goodman, Maureen Dowd and Katha Pollitt are among the women who leap to mind.
July 9, 2012 |
It says "memoir" on the jacket of this book, and this time, it's true. Anna Quindlen has been the diarist of baby boomers, and women boomers especially, since she began writing at the age of 18 for the New York Times, where her columns won a Pulitzer Prize and whence she launched a second career as author and novelist. Quindlen helps to tidy up the word "memoir" from the grime it acquired at the hands of "memoirists" like James Frey and Margaret Seltzer, the word winding up in that fantasist's dictionary where the definition of "memoir" is "stuff I just make up. " "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" is certainly her own: She turned 60 on Sunday.
August 25, 1994 |
What a treat to read a good story told by a smart, if not always likable, narrator. We meet Ellen Gulden, the young woman at the heart of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen's provocative second novel (the best-selling "Object Lessons" was her first), soon after she's graduated from Harvard and taken a magazine job in New York.
September 13, 1998 |
It's pouring outside and there is snow on the street. The rain is the real thing, the snow isn't. We're in the picturesque town of Morristown, N.J., specifically on Farragut Avenue, which could be Anystreet, USA. And inside Anyhouse, USA, an old white three-story wood structure, a mother and daughter are having your basic gut-wrenching, tear-shedding argument. "Don't tell me what to do, Ellen! This is still my house. And I'm still the mother in this relationship." "I know it, Mom.
April 22, 1991 |
In the suburban town of Kenwood, just on the northern border of the Bronx, Maggie Scanlon grows up as a de facto half-caste. Her mother, Constance, is a gorgeous Italian Catholic. Maggie's maternal grandfather still survives as a gardener-caretaker in a lush Italian-Catholic cemetery. But Connie has married "up" into the huge Irish-Catholic Scanlon family.
March 18, 1998 |
If Anna Quindlen were writing this story, she would begin with the details . . . The pinky gold light that for a few hours between rainstorms illuminated the lobby of the La Jolla hotel. The way the old women with their clouds of blue hair sat stiffly at the ornate mahogany table playing cards and sipping gin and tonics from tall crystal tumblers. The salt-scented air and the distant barks of sea lions lounging on the smooth rocks at the shore below . . . .