Tag Archives: books

Trump and Vance

I have no political analysis or opinion to offer here, but I do want to say that I read Hillbilly Elegy when it came out and I thought it was beautiful. What is interesting is that, in 2017, a lot of people said, “Hey, if you want to understand why Trump won, read this book.” Also, Tyler Cowen has a great post at his Marginal Revolution about why Trump is currently on the upswing. One of his points is that Trump is funny – he is a comic. And I think that is true, and I don’t only mean unintentionally (though at times he is unintentionally funny). He actually has great comic delivery – he can be downright Jackie Mason-esque. Someone (John Podhoretz?) wrote a column – probably in 2016 – about how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represented different 1960s eras: Hillary is the late decade, or Laugh-In; Trump is Borscht Belt, or early decade, pre-JFK assassination. True! Another point about Vance is that I appreciate the Amy Chua connection – I’m such a fan of hers, and apparently, she encouraged him to write Hillbilly Elegy and later introduced him to his (impressive) wife. Chua is known for her non-fiction writing, but I want to recommend a historical mystery/police novel she wrote – The Golden Gate. I am dazzled by writers who can be excellent in different genres.

Peter Schjeldahl and Ada Calhoun

About two years ago, I posted about Ada Calhoun and one of her books here. At the time, I did not know that she was the daughter of Peter Schjeldahl, the art critic and essayist. He wrote a phenomenal essay about his cancer diagnosis three years ago and died last week. Only a month ago, I read Calhoun’s latest, Also a Poet, which was, in large part, a tribute to her father and their less-than-perfect relationship. She writes about the struggles of wishing you had had parents that were, for example, more attuned to you, prouder of you, but then also understanding this: you get what you get and good things can come from difficult bonds or even bonds that do not feel strong. Noteworthy for me that Schjeldahl was Norwegian-American. I recognized the unwillingness to praise one’s child, a trait my mother certainly demonstrated. I also recognized the frustration of having parents that seemed perfect (or close to it) to the outside world, while being only human at home. Rest in peace to Schjeldahl and may his daughter continue to write.

Lovely Reader Comment About my Book

I received a terrific message from the son of one of Norman’s fellow soldiers – his batman, actually.

I have stood at your uncle’s grave quite often. I spent a year in Paris as a student 1978-79 at the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon Sorbonne).

That year my dad and mom came over to Paris for a week to visit. We drove to the Normandy beaches, and we visited the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-Cintheaux.

Dad, mom, and I stood at your uncle’s grave for the first time. Prior to driving back to Paris, I inquired of Dad as to where (location) he was wounded. After some searching, we found the Ferme Saint-Hilaire and Hill 195. We walked up hill 195.We were able to pinpoint the location of the 88 shell that exploded and killed your uncle and wounded my father to within approximately 100 feet…Each time we travel to the farm, we stop at the cemetery and look at your uncle’s grave. My dad was his batman and the platoon runner. My father thought very highly of Lt Christopherson.

I commend you for your effort at publishing your uncle’s letters. They are witness to what life was like in those very difficult and trying circumstances.

It means so much to me to have received this email.