Sunday, February 26, 2023

Books: Nina Siegal On "The Diary Keepers" Who Chronicled World War II In The Netherlands


The Diary Keepers: World War II in the Netherlands, as Written by the People Who Lived Through It

By Nina Siegal

Ecco; hardcover, 304 pages; $29.99

Nina Siegal is a journalist who has worked for the New York Times as a writer for the City section covering Harlem and The Bronx, as well as The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, among other outlets; and a novelist who has authored two books, A Little Trouble with the Facts and The Anatomy Lesson. Siegal is also a doctoral candidate in the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory, and Material Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She received a 2021 Writing Creative Non-Fiction Grant.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

MLB Games Will Look A Whole Lot Different This Season

Yankee Stadium's famous facade. Photo by Jason Schott.

When fans tune in to the Mets' spring training opener tonight against the Miami Marlins, they will get the chance to see baseball in a whole new way.

The game has never been altered the game as much in its history, as Major League Baseball has made three massive rule changes - all of which were largely expected - that will essentially give the sport a clock and affect strategy.

The three new rules that have been implemented for the 2023 season are: there will be a pitch timer, defensive shifts will be outlawed, and the bases will be bigger.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Books: "The Cliff's Edge," The Latest In Charles Todd's Bess Crawford Series


The Cliff's Edge

By Charles Todd

William Morrow; hardcover, 320 pages; $27.99

Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of mystery series featuring Bess Crawford, and focusing on Inspector Ian Rutledge, which includes A Divided Loyalty (click here for our review from January 2020) and A Fatal Lie (click here for coverage from February 2021). This has been a renowned mother-and-son writing team, and sadly, Caroline passed away in August 2021, and Charles lives in Florida.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Books: "The Education Of Kendrick Perkins" By An Anchor Of The Last Celtics' Championship


The Education of Kendrick Perkins

By Kendrick Perkins, with Seth Rogoff

St. Martin's Press; hardcover, 304 pages; $29.99; available today, Tuesday, February 21st

Kendrick Perkins was one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, most known for anchoring the paint for the 2008 Boston Celtics, the hallowed franchise's 17th championship, and first since 1986.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Books: "Lefty and Tim" Documents McCarver and Carlton's Historic Pairing In Philly


Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball's Best Battery

By William C. Kashatus; foreword by Larry Christenson

University of Nebraska Press; hardcover, 376 pages; $34.95

The baseball world was saddened this week by the passing of longtime catcher and announcer Tim McCarver. While most people, especially younger generations, in New York know him for his work calling games for the Mets and Yankees, and nationally on Fox, his playing career was just as compelling.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Tim McCarver, Voice Of Baseball For Mets & Yanks, Plus Nationally, Passes Away At 81


Photo by Jason Schott.

Tim McCarver, known as the catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies during a successful playing career, and as a distinguished announcer for the Mets and Yankees in New York, in addition to his national work for outlets including Fox, passed away on Thursday at 81 in Memphis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Books: "Winning Fixes Everything" On The Houston Astros' Rise & Fall


Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball's Brightest Minds Created Sports' Biggest Mess

By Evan Drellich

Harper; hardcover, 368 pages; $32.00; available today, Tuesday, February 14th

The Houston Astros won the World Series last fall, their second in franchise history, and the first one, in 2017, gained a lot of notoriety, if not shame, when a scandal erupted after they were found to have cheated during that season.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Books: "Prize Women" By Caroline Lea


Prize Women

By Caroline Lea

HarperCollins Publishers/Harper Perennial; paperback, 448 pages; $19.00; available today, Tuesday, February 14th

Caroline Lea is the author of novels including The Glass Woman (click here for our coverage from September 2019) and The Metal Heart, and her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Fish Short Story Competition and various flash fiction prizes. Lea grew up in Jersey in the United Kingdom, and she currently lives in Warwich with her two young children. Her work often explores the pressure of small communities and fractured relationships, as well as the way our history shapes our beliefs and behavior. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Books: "The New Guys" On NASA's Barrier-Breaking Astronaut Class of 1978

The New Guys: The Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel

By Meredith Bagby

William Morrow; hardcover, 528 pages; $32.50; available today, Tuesday, February 7th

Meredith Bagby is a nonfiction writer whose books include We Got Issues, Rational Exuberance, and an ongoing series, The Annual Report of the USA. She also is a film and TV producer, and she works with the actress Kyra Sedgwick under the shingle, Big Swing Productions. She was a political reporter and producer for CNN and a teaching fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

Books: "Revolutionary Roads" By Bob Thompson

Revolutionary Roads: Searching for the War That Made America Independent...and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong

By Bob Thompson

Twelve; hardcover, 448 pages; $32; available today, Tuesday, February 7th

Bob Thompson is the author of Born on a Mountaintop, an on-the-road exploration of the real and legendary Davy Crockett. As a longtime feature writer for the Washington Post and the editor of its Sunday magazine, he was known for his articles on the intersection of history and myth.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Books: New Novels From Deborah Crombie, Brad Taylor, & Gabriella Saab


The Morgan Library. Photo by Jason Schott.

There are three fascinating new novels out that you are sure to enjoy while curling up on cold nights: A Killing of Innocents, by Deborah Crombie; The Devil's Ransom: A Pike Logan Novel, by Brad Taylor; and Daughters of Victory, by Gabriella Saab.

Books: "Choosing Family" by Francesca T. Royster

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance

By Francesca T. Royster

Abrams Press; hardcover, 288 pages; $26.00; available today, Tuesday, February 7th 

Francesca T. Royster is a native of the South Side of Chicago, and a professor of literature at DePaul University. She received her PhD in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of three academic books, Becoming Cleopatra, Sounding Like a No-No, and Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions.

Choosing Family is a lyrical and deep exploration of Royster's unit of three - herself, an African-American woman; her partner, Annie, who is white; and Cecilia, the Black daughter they adopted as a couple in their forties and fifties. 

Told against the backdrop of Chicago's North and South Sides, this memoir recounts Francesca's complex journey to her queer identity formation and adoptive motherhood in an interracial home. She calls upon famed feminist theorists like Audre Lorde to argue how many Black households have a "queer" attitude toward family, far different than the "White normative experience," and are richer because of their flexibility and generosity of spirit.

Race is at the core of Royster and her multiracial family's world, which includes everyday acts of parenting on the North Side, as well as challenging the definition of family. She examines her journey to motherhood while examining how complex and messy the adoption process is, as well as parenthood from a Black, queer, and feminist perspective.

Royster also explores the memories she has of the matriarchs of her childhood and the homes they created on Chicago's South Side, which is itself a dynamic character in the memoir, where "family" was fluid, inclusive, and not necessarily defined by blood or marriage. Her story is about seeking joy, the kind that society did not intend for you, or those like you, and claiming it as your own.

In this excerpt, Royster writes of when she and her partner entered motherhood: "The Friday we began to think of ourselves as mothers started with a series of signs and wonders: A Banksy-style painting of a child lifted by a red balloon stenciled on the wall of a downtown construction site as we walked from the El; a toddler in a spring-green knit cap who popped his head over the back of our yellow booth at our favorite breakfast place, waving at us shyky. Chicago Aprils could give you anything - rain, hail, fog, snow - but the day was miraculously warm, with a steady sun.

I had an important meeting that morning with the promotion committee at my university to consider my application for full professor, and my partner, Annie, had come to hold my hand. Despite the years of hard work and preparation for that day - teaching, researching and writing books and articles, volunteering for hours of committee work - my mind was preoccupied with what I hoped would be a much bigger milestone.

Four months previously, Annie and I had turned in our photobook so that birth parents could consider us to become adoptive mothers. In that photobook, we tried our best to represent our strengths: two seasoned older women, one Black, one white, who loved each other and wanted to raise a child and to bring that child into our community of family and friends - our chosen family. We tried to present ourselves as we are: caring and goofy. We wore our hearts on our sleeves. Somehow, we hoped, the book would communicate our passion to become mothers. Then, three weeks before my meeting, we got a nibble. Our social worker, Wendy, showed us a photograph of a beautiful baby girl who had just been born, her face mostly cheeks and shining eyes. Her birth mother was considering us, among others. At a giddy breakfast brain-storming session, Annie and I gazed at the photo and came up with the name Cecilia, if we were chosen. (At first, I really pushed for the name Jesse. No one would mess with Jesse! I pictured her leaning against a brick wall, thumbs in the loops of her jeans. But in the end, it had to be Cecilia, graceful ringing, and true.)

Before my promotion meeting was scheduled to start, we quickly ducked into Walgreens for last touches: a bottle of water, lip gloss, and breath mints. Standing in line, we heard Simon & Garfunkel's song "Cecilia (You're Breaking My Heart)" playing on the loudspeakers. 

'That has to be a sign! We're going to hear something about the baby, for sure!' Annie called out, doing a little dance.

The promotion meeting floated by seamlessly. Afterward, we planned to unwind at our favorite cafe and meet up with our niece Allie to talk about her post-high school plans. At seventeen, Allie seemed to be growing out of the need to hang out with her aunties, so the chance to spend time with her that day felt like a good sign, too. We headed to the cafe, ordered our tea and coffee, and sat down to wait. In a moment, I heard my phone buzz in my book bag. I answered, expecting to hear Allie's voice. 

'Franceca, where are you right now? Is Annie there, too? I've got some exciting news. Are you sitting down?'

I put Wendy on speaker, and over the din of the crowded cafe, we listened to the details. K., the baby's birth mother, was a single African American woman in her thirties from a small struggling town just to the south of us. She was already raising several children, juggling work and school, and taking care of an ill mother when she found out she was pregnant and made an adoption plan. We had no clear information about the birth father. She had made an adoption plan with our agency for two children before this one and was almost sure that she was ready for us to be her new baby's mothers. Almost sure.

We whooped and hollered, hugging Allie, who had wandered into the middle of the excitement, and spent the next hours celebrating, texting, and calling our loved ones. But somewhere beneath our glee was caution. We had been told the statistics. As of that spring, there were seventy families waiting at the Sayers Center, the Cradle Adoption Angency's program for the adoption of African American children. Most of those families were between thirty-five and forty years old. Only 8 percent were older than forty-five, which we were. And only 15 to 20 percent of those couples were gay or lesbian, and most of them had been waiting for a child for three to four years. And, hardest of all to face, we were told that one in five birth parents change their minds about adoption.

Setting aside our worries for the moment, we spent the next few days preparing. We went to Target and piled our cart high with all the things that we knew we'd need in those first weeks of motherhood: diapers and wipes and onesies and formula. The agency required that we have a new car seat to take the little one home safely from the nursery when the time came. Friends began dropping off stuffed animals and toys at our home and our offices on campus. And we made our first visit to the Cradle to meet the baby, to hold her, to feed her bottles of milk, and to imagine ourselves as mothers. It was irresistible not to.

But then, a week later, Wendy sent us an email that began: 'We've run into a wrinkle. But please don't give up.'

Wendy wrote that K. went to a graduation party for a cousin and told her extended family for the first time that she had recently given birth and was in the process of making an adoption plan for the baby. They begged K. to reconsider and promised to support her if she kept the baby. K. told the social worker that she needed more time but for us to keep close.

We had chosen the Cradle because it offered a program that focused on African American children and an open adoption, a process in which parents and birth parents work together to shape family. But this also meant that we'd have to live with the possibility that the parents who chose us might change their minds.

At first, we didn't tell anyone about the potential change of plans. We were afraid if we said it out loud, we might lose the baby. But slowly we admitted the truth.

Our friends Laura and Erica cooked meals for us. Annie's sister Laura instructed us to keep working on the baby's room. 'That baby is coming. You've got to be ready,' she said. Allie reassured us, 'I'd need more time to make this decision, too. She needs you to hang on for her.' Our friend Misty reminded us that we needed to hold ourselves with tenderness as we waited. Lourdes and Amina encouraged us to lean into our teaching while we waited.

We spent our evenings wrapped in each other's arms on our red velvet couch, eating animal crackers and watching old episodes of Friday Night Lights, trying to breathe. Finally, I broke down and called my father.

'It hurts so much,' I told him.

'That's how you know you're her mother,' he said."

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Books: "Warrior" By Lisa Guerrero On Her Remarkable Career


Warrior: My Path to Being Brave

By Lisa Guerrero

Hachette Books; hardcover, 288 pages; $28

Lisa Guerrero is perhaps best known for her work on Monday Night Football on ABC, alongside Al Michaels and John Madden, and Fox Sports' The Best Damn Sports Show Period, but that is just part of her iconic career. Today, she is the award-winning chief investigative correspondent for Inside Edition, where her reporting shines a light on violent crimes, fraud, scams, sexual assaults, child abuse, and even cold case murders.