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Letters 04-21-2014

An Exercise of Power

Many brave men and women have worn and do wear the military uniform of the United States of America. They put their lives at risk and have lost their lives to protect our freedom, our loved ones and our right to vote...


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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Thrillers Times Three

Books Nancy Sundstrom Arthur Raven, Alex Cross, and Jack Forman are three tough, smart, yet sensitive guys (think a special forces operative meets Tom Hanks) who just can’t seem to stay out of harm’s way. As a result, the predicaments in which they find themselves in make for some page-turning reading and razor-sharp suspense writing.
The trio are the lead characters and heroes in the latest works from three of the toughest, smartest, and yet sensitive thriller masters around. Respectively, they are the focus of “Reversible Errors“ by Scott Turow, “Four Blind Mice“ by James Patterson, and “Prey: A Novel“ by Michael Crichton. While each has their flaws, they represent the potential of which their creators are capable of delivering, along with being highly enjoyable, worth recommending, and at present, nesting comfortably on the top of the bestseller lists.
 
Thursday, December 5, 2002

Walk Down this Lane

Books Nancy Sundstrom The title of the book, “Nobody‘s Perfect: Selected Writings from the New Yorker,“ gives a nod to the classic ending line delivered by Joe E. Lewis in the movie “Some Like It Hot,“ when his character discovers that his intended, played by Jack Lemmon, is actually a man. In real life, that saying may be true, but it’s debatable when it comes to the focus here, which is the writing of film critic Anthony Lane.
 
Friday, November 29, 2002

A May-December Love Story Blossoms in Q Road

Books Nancy Sundstrom For those who have been awaiting the heir apparent to Sissy Hawkshaw in Tom Robbins’ legendary “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,“ Michigander Bonnie Jo Campbell has arrived on the literary scene with “Q Road“ and delivers an equally memorable heroine in Rachel Crane, a gun-toting child bride with a loose mouth and an undying passion for the “damned land.“
 
Thursday, November 21, 2002

How Does She Do It? The Ups and Downs of a Working Mom

Books Nancy Sundstrom If the title doesn’t get you, the opening pages of Allison Pearson‘s debut novel, “I Don‘t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother,“ will.
In those first few moments one knows they’ve discovered a treasure trove of observations about being a working mother that are so spot-on and elicit emotions from laughter to tears within even the space of a few sentences.
 
Thursday, November 14, 2002

Q is for Quarry is Quintessential Grafton

Books Nancy Sundstrom I was recently perusing the well-stocked shelves of a friend’s library, an eclectic collection that encompassed everyone and everything -- Kafka to the Kama Sutra, Socrates to Jacqueline Susann, Bronte to Burroughs. You get the point.
Among the extensive collections by a number of authors were the first 17 installments of Sue Grafton’s best-selling series about private investigator Kinsey Millhone, which have been done in alphabetical fashion. The latest, “Q is for Quarry“ was there, as well. Knowing that it had immediately shot to the top of the best seller lists after its recent publication, and has remained there since, I asked for an explain as to what all the fuss was about. My ignorance earned me a bit of a tongue-lashing, but by the evening’s end, I was comfortably settled in with Grafton’s newest in my hands.
 
Thursday, October 31, 2002

Donna Tartt‘s Little Friend is Worth the Wait

Books Nancy Sundstrom On the page and in real life, if there is one thing Donna Tartt has mastered, it’s the fine art of suspense.
After all, Tartt has held an eager audience of readers at bay for slightly more than a decade since publishing her remarkable, bestselling debut novel, “The Secret History.“ The literary world has been clamoring for her sophomore effort ever since, but Tartt opted to crank out thoughtful and provocative columns, critiques, and essays, while quietly working on “The Little Friend.“
 
Thursday, October 24, 2002

The Last Place Finishes First

Books Nancy Sundstrom Make no mistake about it, “The Last Place“ is a first-rate thriller.
“The Last Place“ is the seventh book in a mystery series about Baltimore, MD detective Tess Monaghan from real-life Baltimore Sun reporter Laura Lippman, whose previous novels, “The Sugar House,“ “Baltimore Blues,“ “Charm City,“ “Butcher‘s Hill,“ and “In Big Trouble,“ have won the Edgar, Agatha, Shamus, and Anthony Awards.
Like fellow Baltimorians film makers John Waters and Barry Levinson, she loves the city she lives in and has found it a rich backdrop for her well-conceived series, whose strongest asset is her savvy, wise-cracking, independent former reporter turned private investigator Monaghan.
 
Thursday, October 17, 2002

The Curse of Conflict Diamonds: A Lust for Gems Ignites War in Africa and Fuels the Dreams of Osama bin Laden

Books Robert Downes Greg Campbell‘s book, “Blood Diamonds,“ opens with a horrific image from West Africa‘s heart of darkness:
“Ismael Dalramy lost his hands in 1996 with two quick blows of an ax. He didn‘t -- or couldn‘t -- recall the pain of the blows. But he remembered being ordered at gunpoint to place his wrists on a wooden stump dripping with the blood of his neighbors who were writhing on the ground around him trying to stem the flow of blood from their arms or staggering away.“
 
Thursday, October 10, 2002

King‘s X: The Master of Horror Bows out with From a Buick 8

Books Nancy Sundstrom Each new book from Stephen King tends to become something of an event, especially for his considerable legion of fans. His latest, “From a Buick 8“ seems to be generating even more buzz the usual, much of it centered around the fact that King has announced that this will be his swan song - the last novel he will ever write.
While the prolific horror meister himself says this decision is irrevocable, most of the rest of the world remains skeptical, including peers like Peter Straub, a favorite King collaborator. “It might well be his last book,“ he stated recently, “until the end of the year.“ Still, others close to King suggest that we take his pronouncement seriously.
 
Thursday, September 26, 2002

Blessings Explores the Workings of Faith

Books Nancy Sundstrom As an avid reader, it has been a pleasure to follow the evolution of Anna Quindlen’s writing career. She’s become successively more graceful, sharp-witted, and confident with each new effort in her versatile oeuvre, and many have come to look forward to seeing what she does next.
As expected, her hot-off-the-presses “Blessings“ is now shooting to the top of the bestseller lists.
It follows the novels “Object Lessons,“ “One True Thing“ and “Black and Blue“; the nonfiction books “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,“ “Living Out Loud,“ “Thinking Out Loud,“ and “How Reading Changed My Life“; and two children’s books, “The Tree That Came to Stay“ and “Happily Ever After.“ Her New York Times column “Public & Private“ won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and she now appears every other week in Newsweek.
 
Thursday, September 19, 2002

The Lovely Bones Offers a Fatal Remembrance

Books Nancy Sundstrom It’s one of those stories whose topicality is a hot button because it feels coaxed out of, or a jarring reflection of the disturbingly more frequent headlines in today’s papers about the abduction of young women.
Alice Sebold, who authored the memoir “Lucky,“ has crafted a remarkable and haunting debut novel in “The Lovely Bones,“ an artistic high-wire act that succeeds triumphantly, in spite of the considerable risks it takes.
This is a coming-of-age tale, but with none of the trademarks one might anticipate. For starters, it is about the murder of a 14-year-old girl named Susie, and as we meet her, her death and transition into heaven have already taken place. From above, in a place where “life is a perpetual yesterday,“ Susie narrates the story of her life and demise, and keeps watch over her grieving family friends, as well as the ruthless serial killer and the world weary detective trying to solve the case.
 
Thursday, September 12, 2002

Among the Heroes Recounts a Fight in the Sky on 9/11

Books Nancy Sundstrom For most Americans, the horrific, unbelievable events of September 11, 3001 are simply unthinkable, unimaginable. Most of us were not there. How could we possibly comprehend the heartbreak, horror, and heinousness of what took place at the World Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania on that day, one that will forever be unlike any other?
 
Thursday, September 5, 2002

Bittersweet Bitter End Takes a Trip through the Early ‘60s

Books Nancy Sundstrom As we close in on the first anniversary of the terrorists attacks on our country on September 11, it brings to mind that in the not too distant past, there was another horrific event that galvanized our nation, changing it forever.
That, of course, was the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an event of such monumental proportions that many Americans still recall, with crystalline clarity, what they were doing and where they were when they heard the shocking news. And just like 9-11, the impact will be felt for generations to come, marking the end of an era of security and comfort.
 
Thursday, August 29, 2002

Home Grown Authors - Part II

Books Nancy Sundstrom In the last installment of Express, we showcased four fine new works of non-fiction by Michigan authors. Here, we give equal time to some specialists in the fiction genre, each of whom has a growing following of fans that should increase with these latest works in their oeuvre.

More Than Enough by John Fulton
I’m still hungover from the intoxifying effects of “The Corrections“ by Jonathan Franzen, so I was just a little squeamish about settling into another tome bout a dysfunctional family at various degrees of breaking point, but I had thoroughly enjoyed Fulton’s first work, a short story collection entitled “Retribution,“ and was rather curious to see how he fared tackling the subject.
 
Thursday, August 15, 2002

Homegrown Authors - Part I: Four Works of Michigan Non-fiction

Books Nancy Sundstrom A bumper crop of interesting new books from Michigan writers has just hit book stores and library shelves, so as we do regularly in Express, we’d like to showcase them in a two-part installment beginning with this issue.
The first four to be featured are works of non-fiction, one of which is autobiographical. The other three have several common bonds, the primary one being that they focus on some unique charms of life in Northern Michigan. Next week, we’ll introduce you to four quite diverse fictional works from writers John Fulton, Christopher Knight, Constance Cappel, and Express’s own Harley Sachs.
 
 
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