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Short Takes


Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:49 pm

Leaving: Memories of Romania
Mihai Grunfeld
Millrock Writers Collective, 2008, $21.95
The son of Holocaust survivors, Vassar professor Grunfeld grew up in the twin shadows of his parents’ hidden histories and the Iron Curtain. He writes with coiled-spring power and economy: At a covert seder, his mother “looks like a magician circling her hands over the yellow lights of the candles.” When he and his brother escape to Vienna, a blue plastic cigarette lighter proves an ecstatic symbol of freedom.

Izzy & Lenore:Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me
Jon Katz
Villard Books, 2008, $24
The New York Times bestselling author and co-host of NPR’s “Dog Talk” details his relationships with two canine stars: his rescued border collie Izzy, whose extraordinary sensitivity prompted Katz to train as a hospice volunteer, using Izzy as a therapy dog; and “Hound of Love” Lenore, the irrepressible lab puppy who provided her own brand of emotional healing.

Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus From Egypt
Jean Naggar
Stony Creek Press, 2008, $14.95
Ulster County resident Naggar was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Cairo. In prose as densely woven and vivid as an oriental carpet, she describes a privileged childhood of tango lessons, rose gardens, and Passover treats. The Suez crisis of 1956 changed everything; “Our home became our prison.” This poignant tale of loss and renewal evokes a vanished world.

The Left-Handed Story:Writing and the Writer’s Life
Nancy Willard
The University of Michigan Press, 2008, $18.95
This collection of 16 essays by Poughkeepsie poet, novelist, and Newbery Award-winning children’s author Willard opens one inviting door after another. Who can resist a first sentence like “The first book I ever wanted to steal was a slim blue paperback called Stories of Love and Passion?” Read on!

Cartoon Marriage: Adventures in Love and Matrimony by the New Yorker’s Cartooning Couple
Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin
Random House, 2009, $24
What happens when two cartoonists mate? His and hers hilarity. Veteran New Yorker cartoonists Maslin and Donnelly offer more than 200 looks at all that comes after the wedding vows, including raising a bilingual family (English and Cartoon). Readings at Pawling Book Cove, 2/8 at 1pm; Oblong Rhinebeck, 2/14 at 4pm; Merritt Millbrook, 2/21 at 4:30pm.

The Sun and the Moon:The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
Matthew Goodman
Basic Books (Perseus), 2008, $26
When democracy took hold in a young America, one man’s right to write anything was matched only by another’s right to form an opinion on what was written. Veracity and mendacity were beside the point as journalists exercised their creative muscles to amaze and entertain. This impeccably researched history is encyclopedic—no humbug! Reading at Kingston Barnes & Noble 2/21 at 3pm.

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