Happy new year to all. Given that so many of The Writer's readers are bookworms, I suspect that Santa tumbled pell-mell down a few chimneys and arrived with a big clump thanks to all the books he was carrying.
I received a couple doorstops myself, the biggest being a hardback copy of the 900-page biography A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, by Geoffey C. Ward. Mr. Ward, of course, is documentarian Ken Burns' ace writer (in case you're interested, our contributing editor Chuck Leddy did a neat interview with him in our March 2008 issue).
Another doorstop from Santa: Ian Kershaw's 1,000-page biography of Adolf Hitler, which I hope will at least partially answer a question for our times: How are human monsters created?
On a lighter note, just as intriguing but of considerably less poundage, were the (so far) thoroughly engaging My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, by the great newspaper editor, author and former Random House president Harold Evans, and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps, by former poet laureate Ted Kooser. The latter title is, in the words of New York Times critic Janet Maslin, "a quietly eloquent diary of a year in a small town in Nebraska. . . . a heartfelt plainspoken book about slowing down and appreciating the world around you." This may be therapeutic. Editors generally could stand to slow down a bit.
Finally—and just in time for the one-foot blast of snow that Milwaukee may receive tomorrow—came a complete, and pleasant, surprise from my daughter: an enormous coffee table book full of photographs of polar animals, given her eccentric father's love of penguins. (The polar theme, I might as well admit, continued with a beautiful set of matching salt-and-pepper-shaker Emperor penguins.)
So. A big Arctic-size snowstorm outside, and inside, a warm house, an absorbing 10-pound biography, a couple of lazy, lovable cats, and a pot of fresh-ground coffee—does it get any better for a Wisconsin bookworm?
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