Neshama’s Choices for June 20th

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The Lioness

It seemed like a great idea when Katie, a hot movie star, brings some friends along on a safari in Tanzania. On her honeymoon, no less. Rapidly things go galley-west as kidnappers descend on the group, split them up, and all experience nature rough in tooth and claw as well as man’s inhumanity to man. The crisis reveals less than stellar qualities in each participant, and there’s a high rate of mortality. Over the top calamities but I gobbled all this misfortune up with perverse pleasure.  Vivid, atmospheric, set in Africa and Hollywood in the mid-60s.  

Razorblade Tears

Two fathers make an unlikely alliance out of desperation. Ike, Black, is trying to make a respectable life for himself and his family after a long stint in jail.  Buddy Lee, white, is racist.  Their sons were married, then murdered, and had been out of touch with their homophobic dads. The cops go limp on the case so it’s up to these two to get back-street justice. Lots of action but also an exploration of the complexities of prejudice from many angles which adds depth.  


Subtitled When a Nurse Becomes a Patient.  When Brown, who specialized in oncology and hospice, received her diagnosis, it felt both devastating and ironic.  She stopped working and experienced our broken health care system from a very personal perspective.  With eloquence and clarity, Brown cycles through the process, reflecting intense emotions and analyzing sources of dysfunction. More irony: when she returned to work, her hospice agency had been bought out by a for-profit agency and subverted the care she’d always provided. Note: she also has a PhD in English and now lectures extensively. Powerful and sobering.  

Brown Girls

They come in many shades from many places but there are threads of commonality that run through all the girls. The author weaves these into a multifaceted evocation of growing up in New York.  Immigrant parents, mostly poor, mostly “good girls” until some break away. To heights: college, careers, and moves. And depths, as in Trish’s sad trajectory; she shows up as a ghostly presence periodically. Short chapters cover a panoply of life markers like boyfriends, children, and travels to countries of origin.  The rich details are grounded, poetic, and evocative.