Greetings and welcome to the Arbor Day Edition of You Are What You Read. Today is, indeed, Arbor Day for those keeping score. Originally begun in Nebraska in 1872 by settlers who missed their trees, it became official in 1907 with a proclamation by Theodore Roosevelt. It is in fact, tree pollen making some of us so miserable with grass a close second. I think that if my eyes and throat are to be this itchy it would be nice if it were warmer. Just ten degrees warmer? Please? Thank you.
Have you all heard about the Fly By Night project? An artist named Duke Riley is the proud owner of 2,000 pigeons which he houses on a de-accessioned barge in the Brooklyn (of course) Navy Yard. As if this wasn’t kind of icky enough, he has fastened teeny tiny LED lights to their skinny little bird legs. When the sun goes down, he then hustles them all out and directs them with a big stick with a garbage bag tied on the end where they will swoop and careen en masse.
Now, I consider myself an open-minded individual but the thought of 2,000 pigeons swooping and diving makes me want to hide under my desk. My twice daily trip under my nemesis, the I-95 underpass, is bad enough. And yes, the conditions under it are still a vile disgrace. Thanks for asking.
I cannot imagine willingly co-existing with 2,000 of them. What does that even smell like? How does one care and feed 2,000 pigeons? Is this something you can go to PetSmart for? Do you belly up to the counter and say, “Good Afternoon My Good Man, I’d like 2,000 pigeons please!” Is there a Pigeon Chow? I have so so so many questions. We have all heard of pigeons described as rats with wings, but I don’t see some demented human tying lights to a rat’s tail and making them scurry around. And I am thankful for that. Also, am I alone in thinking the last thing NYC needs is more pigeon? Any way you can read about that on the New York Times. And if anyone has tickets to this “event” please let us know how it went. But if I were you, I’d bring an umbrella. And not for any predicted rain.
This week we have a Bro and a Dude, few words, recipes, a kingpin, some vigilantes, and some news. News from Heaven that is!
Steph is here with a total departure from her usual. “This week I read the cutest book in the Library, thanks to Miss Krishna! Surf’s Up, written by Newbery award-winner Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, is a must-read picture book for anybody heading to the beach this summer. The surfer frogs at the center of the story want to spend the day differently; Bro wants to finish his book (Moby-Dick!) and Dude wants to surf. Who will prevail? The simple story can be read by even those new to books, and Miyares’s illustrations are instantly engaging. This is a book you wouldn’t be sad to read over and over again. Pack it next to the sunscreen.”
John: a man of few words. “I’m reading Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement. While it’s not quite as immersive as *[Memoirs of a Geisha](/catalog/work/124432 "Memoirs of a Geisha", it’s still classic Tan.”
Pat T is as usual, listening. “I have just started listening to My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved my Life by Ruth Reichl. The author was surprised the publisher was going to produce her book in audio because she didn't think the recipes would convert well, but surprisingly they do and the narrator sounds just like author! Ruth Reichl was the editor of Gourmet Magazine for ten years. After 70 years of publication, this well-loved magazine was abruptly shut down by Conde Nast during the 2009 recession. She did what she always did when she was anxious and scared; she hid in the kitchen and consoled herself with cooking which, for her, is a form of meditation! The book is part narrative and part recipes with a sprinkling of words of wisdom from a 40 year veteran of the food industry."
Laura is also listening. “I listened to The Good Girl by Mary Kubica on audio, and that may have made the difference. The well-read story is a well-crafted, thriller about 25 year old Mia Dennett who was kidnapped by down-on-his-luck thief Colin Thatcher who needed quick cash. It was to be an easy abduction, grab the girl, and hand her off to a Chicago crime kingpin who had issue with her federal judge father. But, while driving to the chosen drop-off point, Colin decided to keep driving. Why did he want to keep her safe? Meanwhile Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman stop at nothing to find her. The story reaches into the complicated and fraught lives of families. What seems perfect and righteous, really isn’t and what seems neglectful and distant, really isn’t as well. If you liked The Girl on the Train, or Gone Girl, this is a good read-alike.”
The Always Delightful Pat S is watching this week with Cartel Land by Matthew Heineman. And just so you know this is one of her very special obsessions. “[Cartel Land], a documentary by former Darien resident Matthew Heineman, and a 2015 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, is a riveting expose on the lawless state that exists regarding the cross border cartels in Mexico and to a lesser extent, the U.S. Filmed so up close and personal that you will fully understand the meaning of the expression fly on the wall. [Cartel Land] focuses on two vigilante groups which have sprung up in the absence of government on either side of the border. In the US, we have Tim “Nailer” Foley, a veteran of the Army and recovered Meth addict who leads a squad of like- minded souls patrolling the border. In Mexico, leading a group that calls themselves Autodefensas is Dr. Jose Manual Mireles, a charismatic physician whose aim is to take back the towns from the cartels where any government presence has proved wholly susceptible to corruption. Filmed with unparalleled immediacy, Heineman focuses on the humanity of the situation-the fear, panic and helplessness which has created these self-defense groups. This vividly compelling and realistic portrayal of such a hopeless war is a long way off from Sean Penn’s interview of a drug kingpin in Vanity Fair.”
How do I judge a good audiobook? By the amount of time I am willing to drive. Because, as you all know I am not a fan. And I knew it was a winner when my child asked if we could keep driving so we could finish a story. Jennifer Haigh is one of my favorite authors. She’s a quiet craftswoman who is brilliant and teases out a different story every time. I somehow missed her short story collection News From Heaven: The Bakerton Stories. Haigh returns to the fictional Pennsylvania coal town that she created in her first novel, Baker Towers. Spanning years and generations the stories look at the lives of the town’s people whether they be to gentry born or down in the mines, and either at home in Bakerton or out in the larger world. The audio has a cast of narrators which I love and totally adds to the story telling. You needn’t have read Baker Towers to enjoy this cross section of life but I think if you haven’t this collection will totally make you want to.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken and I know I am not alone in being relieved and not disappointed this week. What’s good Pats? “Spring is in the air here and with it comes the song of birds. One of the great things about moving into a new place is the new flora and fauna that arrive in the springtime. It’s a gift to see what perennials others have planted in the yard before you owned a particular plot. In our case, it’s just hostas. I was hoping to see some tulips or lilies. It makes me wonder how my bulbs are doing back in Darien. I hope the new owners enjoy the red lilies, irises and tulips. Here, the most beautiful thing has happened. Every morning I am awakened by the sound of a glorious songbird. I have no idea what kind it is and have never seen it but its song is lovely and melodious. So this week when Jen shared the piece about what I’ve dubbed “Pigeon Sky Art” I was thrilled. Enjoy what this Spring gives to you.”