WELCOME TO AMERICA

In my new novel, What’s Left, her mother’s grandparents sail from Patras, Greece, to America in the years just before the First World War. In contrast, her father’s side appears to have farmed the Midwest in the oblivion of forever.

In observance of Independence Day, here are images from the Library of Congress in homage to those immigrants who arrived in that period by way of Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

Greeks board rowboats to a steamer in Patras to begin their voyage to the New World.
The faces on these women still say everything.
Imagine the anxiety of approaching the registration desk, to learn if it’s yes or no or maybe.
The view of the harbor filled with hope and the unknown.
Think of all that’s left behind, too.

 

Advertisements

TEN REASONS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE COMING YOUR WAY

Do I really have to define this? To be honest, until recently about all I knew about the topic came from overhearing someone who’s truly terrified about it, but then you have to realize he’s terrified by everything, including his own shadow. A little research, though, casts the possibility in a much calmer light. For instance:

  1. It’s essentially a suburban phenomenon, should it erupt, starting at the malls. You don’t go there, do you?
  2. That also means it’s afraid to venture into the ghetto – and anything close to center city.
  3. It self-selects for Trump country, something like the plagues of Egypt. By the way, there’s no harm in sprinkling your doorposts with sheep’s blood, just in case. (You may want to keep some on hand.)
  4. It also heads straight for Walmart. Think of the cockroach hotel ads, “They go in but they don’t come out.”
  5. It runs in terror at the slightest whiff of high culture – paintings, fine literature, jazz, classical music, opera (especially) ward it off. Keep a good supply of Shakespeare quotes at the tip of your tongue. They’re better than any arcane spell you could cast.
  6. There’s some debate about whether it’s spread by infected people or by an airborne virus. Here’s a hint: It has no sense of humor – it’s completely defenseless against laughter. Or really bad jokes. (“You hear the one about two zombies go in a bar?”)
  7. As people? Traditional slow zombies will get in the way of the newer mutant fast zombies. They’ll start tripping over each other, which will lead to biting their rivals. New research indicates their blood types won’t match and that will be that. End of the show.
  8. Or consider traffic gridlock. Major highways and bridges stop moving at a given volume – and many zombies will expire right there. You really didn’t expect them to be walking anywhere, did you?
  9. And as a virus? Simple. Stockpile your vitamin C. And take it faithfully.
  10. They won’t want your home-canned green beans. Or any other greens, for that matter. It’s too quiet where I live. Zombies would be looking for live action. I’m more worried about garden slugs.

~*~

So what potential global catastrophes are keeping you up nights? And how would you advise coping?

 

African violets in a cozy window.

Of course, this is totally unrelated to the theme. Just another thing on my mind.

 

BUILDING ON FOOD TRENDS IN AMERICA

Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

There’s no escaping food itself or American culinary trends in my new novel, What’s Left – not when the family’s livelihood and fortune are built around their landmark restaurant. What I did, however, escape is a story relating the day-to-day cartoon sequences of a kitchen demimonde of cooks, dishwashers, and wait staff, out of sight in the back, and the quirky demands of customers beyond the swinging service door and long countertop, out in front. My daughter, a pro in the hospitality industry, already has a fine draft of a novel addressing those, thank you. Besides, I touched on some of those incidents in the opening chapters of my novel, Promise.

Since my new work grows out of a template established at the ending of my first published novel, where her parents’ generation is already immersed in change, it seemed natural to have them look toward innovation and evolution rather than remain tradition-bound in hamburgers and fried chicken. For one thing, they were toying with Buddhism, with its vegetarian traditions.

Let me say simply that the possibilities have led to many heated discussions in our household, married as I am to a well-informed foodie and genius cook in her own right. And that’s before we get to the aforesaid daughter.

In the time since Cassia’s parents’ marriage, the awareness of food options and availability of ingredients in America has advanced by light years.

Read More »

FAMILY VALUES

Mrs. Richardson had been yelling at the kid the fifth-grade girl who came around to our door begging money to pay the babysitter Mrs. Richardson yelled at the grandchild for three days, and spanked her then they were crying, in different parts of the building all the while, their phonograph repeated “the angels sing, glory […]