Death by Unknown Event by Eliza Smith

Death by Unknown Event by Eliza Smith

I had never heard of the Cindy James case before, but Death by Unkown Event, another podcast available on Audible Plus, caught my eye. Cindy James suffered for 8 years, filing multiple reports of harassment and assaults. The podcast takes us through the events in Cindy James' life, and looks at the investigators in her case, her ex-husband, the psychiatrists, neighbors, private detective. It's a devastating story. We see all the theories and options, but at the heart of the case is that everyone failed Cindy. I think that's the writer's point. Regardless of how you see the case, Cindy asked for help again and again. And ended up dead. ...
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The Murder of Robert Wone by AYR Media

The Murder of Robert Wone by AYR Media

I don't usually listen to podcasts - I'm not sure why. The Murder of Robert Wone is available for free on Audible Plus, and it sounded interesting. I honestly wasn't sure what I wanted to listen to, so free and short is as good a reason as any. It turned out to be pretty fascinating. Robert Wone was found stabbed to death in his friends' home in Washington, DC. The podcast was put together well. It took a thorough look at the people involved and evidence found that night and in the following days. I usually read crime fiction, where more often than not, we get a resolution. True crime can be messy like it is here. People may have their suspicions, but proof is sometimes impossible to get. ...
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Strange Frequencies by Peter Bebergal

Strange Frequencies by Peter Bebergal

I picked up Strange Frequencies for RIP's Peril of the Real. When it comes to fiction, I stay in the mystery aisles most of the time. Nonfiction, however, can be about anything. I can't say that I was really interested in the intersection of technology and the supernatural, but I can find most topics interesting and learn fascinating bits and pieces, especially when the writer/speaker presents it well. Bebergal covers a wide variety of topics, from golems to seances to electronic voice phenomena and he does it from the view of maybe a hopeful skeptic. He researches, but he also experiments. He talks about the history around certain devices or myths and contacts, when possible, experts. He also goes to the seance, tags along with the photographer, builds a Tesla radio, uses his dad's old tape recorder. My one complaint is that it jumps from topic to topic. I would have liked there to be more to it, not just...
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Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown merges the storyline of a TV crime procedural, Black and White, with the life Willis Wu. He and his parents live a fairly unremarkable existence in small one-room apartments in Chinatown. Their building is above the Golden Palace restaurant where the show is in constant production. Wu and his parents and most of their community drift in and out of the series, playing interchangeable parts and hoping their big break might someday come. And I think sometimes they work in the restaurant which seems to actually be a business, not just a set. Wu is often cast as as the "Generic Asian Man," and sees himself holding that role in real life too. It's a clever book, with parts written as a screenplay, parts as Wu's inner monologue, and using snippets of true historical documents. But maybe it's too clever. I appreciated the blurred lines between fiction and reality. I understand that America has been harming Asian...
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Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

In Four Hundred Souls, Kendi and Blain have assembled an outstanding group of 90 writers and poets to tell the history of African Americans. The collection begins with Nikole Hannah-Jones's essay on the 1619 arrival of 20 Africans in Virginia and ends with an essay by Alicia Garza on the Black Lives Matter movement. The essays and stories tell of history we know, but many writers focused on stories and people I didn't know, like Elizabeth Keyes who was the first Black woman in the American colonies to petition for her freedom, Lucy Terry Prince the poet who argued for her family's freedom before the Supreme Court, and David George who established the first Black Baptist church. Others touch on laws and events but they fit together, telling a history that we don't know well enough. Like any collection, Four Hundred Souls is uneven, but I don't think that's a negative here. Each of the writers has their own style, their...
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White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson

White Negroes by Lauren Michele Jackson

White Negroes is a great collection of essays around cultural appropriation and how it relates to power and privilege. It's a short book, but each of the topics, music, art, fashion, language, economy, feels like it's covered well with data and references and examples that get the author's points across. The book is well structured, meticulously researched, and very readable. I do admit that I did miss some of her cultural references, current musicians or memes or whatever that I'm just not familiar with. White Negroes is definitely worth reading. I learned a lot. Obviously, I knew cultural appropriation exists, but I don't have a clear concept of how prevalent it is and how damaging to the black community. And some of the examples are just outrageous. Jackson doesn't suggest there are easy answers or that the topics are clear cut. She does ask us to respect, recognize, and pay the creators, and to recognize how we contribute to the...
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